Baltic Film Weekend: LATVIA


YEAR: 2018


RUNTIME: 1h 30m

Saving one life means
saving the world

Hardly anyone would have predicted that Žanis Lipke would miraculously become a hero. He was a completely ordinary Latvian blue-collar worker who had his share of worry and problems. After Latvia was annexed by the USSR in 1940, Žanis’s daughter became a Communist and when it was occupied by Nazi Germany, she disappeared. In order to be able to support his family under wartime conditions, he worked at the German military aviation warehouses and supplemented his income by smuggling at night. Yet as soon as the German occupation regime began its bloody repressions against Riga’s Jews, he made the hardly simple but humane decision that could prove lethal not only to himself but also to his wife and son. In the same lorry that was recently used to transport bootleg alcohol, dozens of people were plucked — literally, from under German noses — out of the Riga Ghetto and forced labour sites. As soon as their temporary hiding place came under threat of being discovered, Žanis made an even more audacious decision and began sheltering Jews at his own home, in a specially dug underground bunker under his shed. His wife Johanna and young son Zigis also became involved in the rescue operations. As one of the rescued later said: Žanis and his deed of rescuing complete strangers under the reigning conditions of cruelty constituted a genuine miracle. This film tells the story of the secret of Žanis Lipke’s courage, attempting to understand and answer the question whether the key is Žanis’s adventurous and daring spirit, stubbornness, or a sense of responsibility with regard to one’s neighbour.

Director Dāvis Sīmanis
Script Dāvis Sīmanis, Matīss Gricmanis
Cinematography Andrejs Rudzāts, LGC
Producers Gints Grūbe, Antra Gaile
Co-Producer Oval Media (Germany)


Artūrs Skrastiņš
Ilze Blauberga
Matīss Kipļuks
Mihail Karasikov
Milena Gulbe