Father’s Letters

Папины письма

One winter day in 1934, Pr. Vangengheim was arrested for sabotage and sent to the Gulag on the Solovki Islands. He decided to hide the truth from his wife and daughter Eleonora, until his execution.

On January 8, 1934, Pr. Vangengheim was arrested for sabotage, accused by a close collaborator of being the organizer of a conspiracy by having falsified weather forecasts. He was sent to a Gulag prison camp on the Solovki Islands. Convinced that what happened to him was a great misunderstanding, he did not want to reveal the truth to his daughter, Eleonora. So he pretended to be an explorer on a trip in the letters he was sending her. He sent her herbariums of flowers and plants from Solovki, composed riddles and puzzles, drew the birds and animals that lived on the island, as well as the astronomical phenomena he observed: the northern lights, a solar eclipse. He kept making her believe in this fairy tale as long as possible, and came to steal the dandelions forming the mustache of Joseph Stalin in a flowerbed of the camp... For the damage he caused to the portrait, Vangengheim was executed.

Director’s statement
What transcends this film is the unconditional love of a father for his daughter, through these stories and drawings, and that is why I chose to avoid a realistic approach. I want to tell the story in animation from the point of view of Eleonora, her admiration for the magnificent illustrations and herbariums with which Vangengheim left his mark on history. I would like to invite the audience to experience a gulag story through these letters written on cigarette rolling paper at the time, and to share Eleonora's emotion when reading them. She discovered an Eden, a garden inhabited by flowering plants, a plain where animals live that can be found nowhere else, rare lights and weather phenomena that her father, a great meteorologist and explorer, represented to her with care. The herbariums Vangengheim has sent to his daughter is a metaphor for his own fate. In parallel to our story, Vangengheim tells his daughter about the flowering cycles of the dandelion, from birth to death.

Director and Scriptwriter
Alexey Evstigneev

Country of production

France, Russia

Target audience

all audiences

Animation Technique

2D vector based, hand drawn, stop motion

Production company

moderato Mimesis

CEE Animation is supported by the Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union and co-funded by state funds and foundations and professional organisations from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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