Lake of Happiness

Directed by Aliaksei Paluyan

Fiction, Belarus, Germany, Spain, 29’57” (2019)

Synopsis

In a small Belarusian village where time seems to stand still, Jasja, a 9-year-old girl, has to deal with  her mother‘s death. Her father decides to send her to an orphanage. But one day she decides to run away,  home.

Director’s Statement

LAKE OF HAPPINESS is a personal film for me, because the character of Jasja is based on the story of my father. He was 7 years old when his mother died and my grandfather decided to send him to an orphanage. This traumatic experience in his childhood has always been a taboo topic for my father. Although he never spoke to me about it, I know that this is a topic he’s struggled with until today. That left me with a burning question: why would parents give their own children away? As a filmmaker, I tried to find a cinematic angle of view at this personal story.

During my research, a good friend of mine made me a present, a new book called “Lake of Joy” by the famous Belarusian writer Viktor Martinovich. This was a key signal for me. On that same day I wrote a letter to this writer and told him I was working on a very similar story at the moment and that I wanted to meet with him. I told him at our meeting that I wanted to use only one special episode of his novel, that I wanted to dissemble it, find its essence and rebuild a new story based on my father’s experiences. Viktor Martinovich believed in me and gave me his approval and the filming rights to his novel. For my screenplay I created a fictional character named Jasja. She comes from a small Belarusian village, like my father. It is very important for me that even though Jasja is in fact imaginary, her role in my film was played by a real orphan girl (Nastyia Plyatz).

In LAKE OF HAPPINESS I wanted to tell the drama about a strong person who at the age of 9 dares to build his own way. Not every adult is ready for this choice, but Jasja was able to. We understand that she will still fight in this life.