It is 1935. The former cinema and theater star Marija Leiko goes to the Soviet Union to take over the care of her recently born granddaughter, whose mother has died in childbirth. The way back to Latvia leads through Moscow where her former Latvian friends, former revolutionaries of 1905, now commissars of the Stalinist regime, talk her into staying in Moscow for one season to perform with the Latvian theater Skatuve (Stage). Leiko is ready to once again experience the working atmosphere of the theatre and the devotion of the audience, yet soon enough she becomes aware of the schizophrenic and violent character or the regime under its “new life” façade. Leonīds Zakovskis, a Latvian, deputy of the head of the NKVD, becomes her admirer and romantic suitor. A year later, as the NKVD-organized “Latvian Operation” begins, Zakovskis is put in charge of it. Should the famous actress admit to anti-Soviet activities, it would be proof positive to Latvian disloyalty to the regime. Albeit in the dark about the fate of her granddaughter, who has been kidnapped by the NKVD, Leiko cannot betray her ideals and admit to “crimes” she has not committed. She is forced to play her life’s most tragic role – an innocent victim destroyed, along with her fellow actors and thousands of other Latvians, by the murderous regime.
Director and scriptwriter Davis Simanis, Ph.D. Arts is a Latvian filmmaker and theorist. He has directed historical feature films, a number of poetic documentary films as well as cross-genre features that have participated in various major festivals. His docu-fiction Escaping Riga (2014) premiered internationally at IDFA 2014 and is still screened at documentary film festivals worldwide. Escaping Riga tells a story of two world-class 20th-century geniuses, the British philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin and the Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein. Previously received Award for the Best Debut (Version. LNO, 2006) and FIPRESCI Award (Valkyrie Limited, 2009) at the Latvian National Film Festival Lielais Kristaps and Grand Prix Award at the Vilnius Documentary Film Festival (The Chronicles of the Last Temple, 2013).
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