17 JAN 2024

Latvian film "Maria's Silence" to premiere at 2024 Berlin International Film Festival

The latest film of Dāvis Sīmanis is about the true story of German silent-movie star and theatre actress Marija Leiko.

17 JAN 2024

"Maria's Silence"

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The latest work of Latvian filmmaker Dāvis Sīmanis, "Maria's Silence", will have its international premiere at the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival. Simanis directs and co-writes with Magali Negroni and Tabita Rudzate, the true story of German silent-movie star and theatre actress Marija Leiko, who late in her career has to decide between fame and love for her grandchild, between her ideals and the lies of Stalin’s totalitarian regime.

"Maria’s Silence" is the consistent continuation of the director’s work on the history of the 20th century. Dāvis Sīmanis’s previous films have premiered internationally – "Exiled" (2016) and "The Mover" (2018), Winner of the Haifa IFF Price and The Year before the War at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (2021).

With precise historical accuracy, beautiful photography and dedicated performances, the film is a co-production between Latvia (Mistrus Media) and Lithuania (Broom Films) to premiere at the 74th Berlin International Film Festival, Forum programme, and stars Olga Šepicka, Artūrs Skrastiņš, Ģirts Ķesteris, Inese Kučinska and Vilis Daudziņš.

For the producer Gints Grūbe (Mistrus Media), “The fact that 'Maria’s Silence' will have its world premiere at Berlinale makes us think about the twists and turns of history and how they have affected the life story of the prototype of the film’s protagonist, actress Maria Leiko (Leyko). In the 1930s, the actress fled Nazi Germany and ended up in Stalin’s Russia. Today, when Russia is trying to minimize Stalin’s crimes, it is also important to talk about artists’ collaboration with a criminal power. It becomes evident that the concealed pages of the 20th century history can reveal much about the contemporary world of power, making us think about the relationship between intellectuals and power and the possible consequences of this relationship. The life story of Maria Leiko is one of the 'blank spots”'in European history."

“Maria Leiko’s life is the perfect ground to reveal the scale of cruelty of a demonic political regime and to tell a biographical story of a strong personality and outstanding actress. She experienced the most progressive and creative period of the 20th century, playing in Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s films or on stage at the Bertolt Brecht’s German political theatre. She had socialist dreams of an ideal society where everyone’s rights would be honored, and the majority of people would not be condemned to a miserable existence. Although Leiko’s attempts to take a stance against the brutality of the totalitarianism of the interwar period led to her death. Yet she has left us with a powerful historical lesson and a narratively rich closing chapter of her life,“says the director Dāvis Sīmanis.

The film received backing from the National Film Centre of Latvia, the Lithuanian Film Centre, Latvian Television, Creative Europe Media Programme, the project was developed at ScriptEast workshop and EAVE.