Liena Šmukste MEŽS:ЛЕС MEŽS:ЛЕС LV 2021, 67’, ru
It’s November and “the planets realigned a week ago,” says a police inspector in complete astrological earnestness. A desperate woman has turned to the police asking for help to find her daughter, Anna. She is 21 years old, is getting good grades at the Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University and has been missing for three days. On the same day, a man arrives at the police station because he has found a phone in the forest while walking his dog. It turns out that the smartphone with the Instagram account “Muha_v_komnate” belongs to the missing girl. The stories that Anna’s family members, friends and those close to her tell clash, leading the chief investigator to question whether anyone ever really knew the girl.
If the central story of MEŽS:ЛЕС bears a likeness to the disappearance of Laura Palmer in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and the found phone has a similarity to the severed ear in Blue Velvet (1986), your intuition has not failed you. Director Liena Šmukste’s film is structured like a riddle – a string of monologues that jumps from one witness’ phone screen to the next, from that, which is openly exposed to things that are kept silent. The film is based on a fragmentary play by Polina Borodina that has woven the contemporary trend of sharing lives publicly and making them into reproducible content into its fabric. The film, which started out as a series on Instagram, features an international cast of actors, including Guna Zariņa, Andris Keišs and Valentin Novopolsky (Oleg, 2019). The way the film elegantly uses its scattered and alienating small-screen format allows viewers to figure things out for themselves: has the girl died, or merely chosen a different life?