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Berline 2006.indd

Berline 2006.indd

IN COMPETITIONby

IN COMPETITIONby Mārtiņš SlišānsFilm CriticThe Delicacy of Water2Water/Ūdens/Feature (short)/35 mm/12 min/2006/Director Laila Pakalniņa/Producer Laila Pakalniņa/Production Hargla Company/International Sales Hargla Company, Valtaiķu 19, Rīga, LV-1029 Latvia,tel.+371 9235 618, laila.pakalnina@inbox.lvadiscovery at Cannes, arecent competitor at theVenice IFF – now for thefirst time Laila Pakalniņa’s workwill be featured in the ShortsCompetition at the Berlinale. After16 documentaries, 2 feature filmsand 1 TV special, Laila Pakalniņais making her debut in the genreof fiction short. Clean and clear.Water by Laila Pakalniņa has beenincluded among the favourites ofthe selectors at the Berlinale.• How would you feel if you arrivedfor a swim at you favourite poolonly to discover that the water iscold? That’s exactly what happenedto the author of Water. It triggeredLaila Pakalniņa’s fantasy whichnow seems to have overgrown theinitial momentum. At the outsetWater was intended as a short,but after the script was finished,Pakalniņa understood that she hasmore in mind than the initial bargainof a moment at the pool. Nowwe can look forward to a featurelengthtetralogy combining all fourelements – water, fire, air and earth.• With two higher-educationdiplomas – the first in journalismfrom Moscow University and thesecond in film directing from theMoscow Film Institute (VGIK) – LailaPakalniņa is not your usual sort ofdirector. If one looks at Pakalniņa’strack record, there is hardly anotherdirector in Latvia who can matchher international success. She hasan air of anti-establishment abouther, but at the same time she is inthe middle of the film scene. Herfirst black & white documentaryshorts after graduation from theMoscow Film Institute, whichcoincided with the collapse of theSoviet Union, were discovered atCannes. The Ferry (1994) and TheMail (1995) were included in theOfficial selection. Ten years havepassed since then. Pakalniņa’s firstfeature, The Shoe (1998), followedin the footsteps of her shorts atCannes. For her second feature, ThePython (2003), thepeople at Venicewere quicker andincluded it in theirnew Upstreamcompetitionsection. As forher latest doc –Pakalniņa’s DreamLand (2004), waspicked-up bythe high-profileAmsterdam IDFAfor screening lastyear.• So why does Pakalniņa’s workfascinate people who’ve seenthousands of films? If one speaksof Laila Pakalniņa as overused,the notion of auteur still can’t beavoided. It’s the principal originalityfeatured exclusively in her work andin not in that of other directors. ALaila PakalniņaBorn 1962. Graduate of Moscow University,TV Journalism and VGIK, Film Directing.Has directed 16 documentaries, 2 short and 2feature films. Finds inspiration in moments oflife – in movements, words, lights, situations.In childhood wanted to become an ice-creamvendor.world of delicate interplay betweena mostly static frame recordingreality as it happens, in front of oureyes, and a world of sound mostlyoutside of the frame. It seemslike nothing much is happening.Sometimes “nothing much” is anexaggeration. It seems like nothingis happening! Just wait a second, ortwo or three… and slowly, bit by bit,you’re immersed into a window tothe world as Laila Pakalniņa sees it.• Somehow the best description ofwhat (not) happens in Pakalniņa’sfilms and why it is so rewarding toactually watch them is a feeling thatradiates from the following story. Inthe world seen by Laila Pakalniņa:“I wait hopelessly long for anelevator in a small hotel in Prague. Itis evident that someone is riding it.Down-up. Up-down. Suddenly theelevator doors open. In front of meis a Japanese girl who asks: “Couldyou tell me how to work this lift?” Iexplained, and afterwards I never didmanage to catch the elevator…I took the stairs.”• It’s just the thing that Pakalniņadoes in her films. She “waits” forthings to happen, and then, whenthey happen, she “takes the stairs”.The small everyday absurdities

3Water / Photo: Agnese Zeltiņa

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