Directed by Aliaksei Paluyan
Fiction, Belarus, Germany, Spain, 29’57” (2019)
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: Aliaksei Paluyan
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.