The 14th of June 1941, Soviet-occupied Latvia: Without warning, the authorities break into the house of Melanie and her husband Aleksandr and force them to leave everything behind. Together with more than 15 000 Latvians, Melanie and her son get deported to Siberia. In her fight against cold, famine and cruelty, she only gains new strength through the letters she writes to Aleksandr, full of hope for a free Latvia and a better tomorrow.
‘Family Instinct’ is a film about incest – an illegal act, social taboo and a violation of religious norms. Zanda is a 28-year-old woman, worn out by hard work. Surrounded by poverty and despair, she is trying to survive with her two children in a god-forsaken Latvian village. Her hardships can be traced back to living in a relationship with her brother Valdis. When Valdis is put in jail, the local community forces her to make a difficult choice: to stay with him or with her children. Despite her ill fortune, she manages to express her love for the children, still hoping to save her family. The film offers a tragicomic but highly authentic insight into the bleak reality of Latvian countryside today.
Western frontiers of the USSR, 1942. The region is under German occupation. A man is wrongly accused of collaboration. Desperate to save his dignity, he faces an impossible moral choice.
Anna’s story takes place on Åland Island in 1666, during the beginning of the most widespread and systematic witch-hunts in Scandinavian history. In all, 16 women were convicted of being in league with the devil, and seven of them were executed. For Judge Psilander, who has mastered the newest witch theories of the time, the trials are meant to cleanse the island of superstition, to have science and common sense prevail. The main character, the intelligent and stubborn Anna, gets an intimate view of the events, having just started working as a maid in the judge’s house. To Anna’s misfortune, she falls intensely in love with her friend Rakel’s husband Elias, but his infatuation with her quickly fades. A hurt and jealous Anna decides to get revenge and falsely reports Rakel to Judge Psilander. It’s only when Rakel is arrested, and things get out of hand, that Anna realizes the gravity of her doings.
Over the course of one year, this film follows the life of an ordinary Pyongyang family whose daughter was chosen to take part in one of the famous Korean “Spartakiads”. The ritualized explosions of color and joy contrast sharply with pale everyday reality, which is not particularly terrible, but rather quite surreal, like a typical life as seen “through the looking glass”.