Laila Pakalnina: The First Bridge

“Krāslava bridge is the first bridge built over the river Daugava in the territory of Latvia—a gate for the Daugava river from Belarus to Latvia”, explains Laila Pakalniņa. “Every film is about time, but ours maybe a bit more than others as it was shot on Kodak Eastman Plus-X Negative Film 5231, acquired in the year 1997 and discovered intact in 2018. So, we are dedicating The First Bridge to film stock”.

Words from a director, who again (like she did with ”Spoon”) surprises with static shots by Gints Berzins and adorable sound work by Anrijs Krenbergs put together in a way that invites you to enjoy the study of a bridge from many angles, most often behind withered branches and bushes, close by or from a distance. The Daugava river with calm water movements, a woman walking from right to left within the image, a woman walking from left to right, steps, cars being heard – and (pure beauty) snow where there is no sound and then suddenly you hear the snow sweeping. Berzins and Pakalnina are playing with the angles, drawing lines as if they are inspired by the Russian avantgarde artists?

In the Visions du Réel catalogue the film is chategorised as a social documentary. Well, why not, time stands still, houses are not at their best, the tone and atmosphere are like the short documentaries Pakalnina made in the middle of the 1990’es – example, «The Ferry», «The Post»…Life outside what we normally are invited to see.

Waiting for the next film by Pakalnina and Berzins. 

Latvia, 2020, 12 mins.

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3861