The Year Before the War
World premiere: IFFR 2021 - Big Screen Competition
On the precipice of the monumental events leading up to WWI, a young, Latvian man named Peter (Petr Buchta)- but who claims to be called Hans - travels around Europe with little apparent purpose. Beginning as a doorman in Riga, he is unexpectedly embroiled in a series of bizarre events that place him at the dead-centre of political warfare of a number of emerging and defiant forces, falling into the literal and ideological crossfire of anarchists, communists and nationalists alike.
Peter’s unpredictable, often absurd and sometimes tragic journey takes him through the untamed wilderness of Northeastern Europe, ultimately bound for Vienna via the radical 'Lebensreform' wellness community at Monte Verità in Switzerland. Along the way, he is romanced by legendary spy Mati Hari and analysed by Sigmund Freud. Meanwhile, more notorious figures of the early twentieth-century send his journey towards more violent revolutions, conducting Peter to commit a series of life-changing acts that alter the course of history.