The world premiere of the new feature film The Year Before the War by Dāvis Sīmanis will take place at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Along with 14 other films, it has been selected for one of the main programmes of the festival – Big Screen Competition where the winner receives EUR 30,000 and guaranteed screening of the film in cinemas and on TV in the Netherlands.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), one of the most important film events in Europe, celebrates its 50th birthday this year. It will run from 1-7 February in a new and unusual format due to the pandemic. Trying to restrict the spread of Covid-19, the government of the Netherlands has closed all public institutions, including film theatres until 9 February, therefore the entire festival has moved to virtual space. All film screenings as well as discussions with authors and film professional meetings will take place online. The Dutch citizens and accredited guests will have a choice either to watch films in digital premieres that will try to imitate real presence in a film theatre by offering online meetings with the creative team and a chance to ask questions or rent the film for streaming within a 72-hour period. The premiere of The Year Before the War by Dāvis Sīmanis and the online meeting with the audience will take place on 5 February at 8 pm.

Dita Rietuma, the Head of the National Film Centre, says, The International Film Festival Rotterdam is one of the most well-established, the so-called Class A European film festivals with emphasis on films with unique, often radical elements of film direction. Until now, the contribution of Latvian cinema has not particularly attracted the attention of the organisers of the IFFR, therefore the fact that The Year Before the War directed by Dāvis Sīmanis is included in the competition programme of this festival is a noteworthy fact. We wish success in Rotterdam and hope that participation in this important festival will pave the road for the film in other parts of the world.”

The protagonist of the historic thriller The Year Before the War is a young man, Pēteris Mālderis – one of the most mysterious Latvians of the 20th century. The story twists around his tragicomic and surreal trip in 1913, right before the start of the First World War – a time that changed the world. Pēteris tries to solve a conspiracy mystery but the many plot twists are loosely based on real historic events therefore the protagonist meets several historic persons on his way — Lenin (Lauris Dzelzītis), Freud (Ģirts Ķesteris), Stalin (Eduards Johansons), Trotsky (Gints Grāvelis) and Proust (Jānis Putniņš) as well as his beloved Alma (Inga Apine), a crazy wise man (Juris Strenga) and other significant characters. The film is an interpretation of the European history and tells about the demise of old culture.

The creative team of the film – director and screenwriter Dāvis Sīmanis, director of photography Andrejs Rudzāts, production designer Kristīne Jurjāne and producer Roberts Vinovskis – have co-operated before on the production of the feature film Exiled (2016).

The Year Before the War is a co-production of three countries – Studio Uljana Kim from Lithuania and the Czech Produkce Radim Prochazka have joined forces with the Latvian Locomotive Productions. Faustas Latenas, one of the most prominent Lithuanian composers, who passed away last December, represented Lithuania in this project. The leading actor Petr Buhta and the editing director Anna Ridnova are from the Czech Republic. The film is financially supported by the National Film Centre.

The first trailer:
Stills from the shooting (authors: Andrejs Strokins, Kristaps Dzenis):

Facebook profile of the film:
Instagram profile of the production company:

Additional information: Liene Ančupāne, 26443883