// Presented as part of Filmatique's Young Womanhood Series //
Spotlight on The Chronicles of Melanie
Viesturs Kairiss / Latvia-Czech Republic-Finland, 2016 / Tallinn Black Nights, Bratislava, Camerimage, Fajr, Jeonju, Prishtina, Riga / 120'
In the early morning of June 14, 1941, Melanie and her 8-year-old son Andrejs are, along with over 40,000 people from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, arrested and dispatched to permanent exile in Siberia. Ignorant to her husband's fate, Melanie moves into the barracks and begins forced labor; she writes Aleksandrs hundreds of love letters that are never sent since his address remains unknown. After 16 years, Melanie is released and returns to Riga, only to find out that her husband Aleksandrs died in the camps in 1942.
Based on the life of real life of journalist Melānija Vanaga, The Chronicles of Melanie documents the Soviet purges of the Baltic states by resurrecting the voice of a singular female victim. Viesturs Kairiss's third narrative feature premiered at Tallinn Black Nights where it won Best Cinematography and Prishtina International Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize. The Chronicles of Melanie was selected as the Latvian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.
"[T]he value of the film lies... in the educational purpose it serves for both foreign audiences and younger generations back home... Memory is a tricky thing, and one purpose of cinema is undoubtedly to serve as a chronicle that would help us to define, understand and construct the future through reflecting on past events"
- Tristan Priimägi, Tallinn Review, Cineuropa