Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ziemassvetku Jampadracis (The Christmas Hullabaloo)

Children. 1993.
Directed by Varis Brasla.
Written by Alvis Lapins.
Based on a story by A. Zapere.
Starring: Dace Everss, Janis Paukstello, Inara Kalnaraja, Uldis Dumpis. Liga, Lasma, Liene and Almars Zostini, Edgars Eglitis and Kaspars Adamsons.

Great films don’t always need to be “Great” films. They don’t have to be perfect or about important topics. Sometimes they can just simply be small gentle films that tell their story with heartfelt sincerity, humor and warmth. “Ziemassvetku Jampadracis” is such a film.
“Jampadracis” tells the story of the Cirulisi, a tight knit family down on their luck, and their trials and tribulations during the Christmas season. Father Cirulitis has just been turned down for a job as a music teacher. He can barely support the family as a piano teacher with far too few students. They can’t even afford a Christmas tree. The landlord is threatening to kick them out. The kids have just received their report cards and some of the marks are not, well, they are not the kind that you would want your parents to see. The eldest son has been summoned to the police station falsely accused of hitting a policeman with a snowball. And, to top it all off the child prodigy that the two youngest kids have been entrusted with entertaining has just been injured on the eve of his concert, for which they are sure to be blamed.
What ensues is a story that is as genuine as it is warm. A wonderful tale that transcends whatever weaknesses it might have simply because it is told from the heart. The Cirulisi might be poor and going through hard times, but the love that they have for each other can triumph over anything that comes their way. In contrast, the family of the child prodigy, which has all the wealth and status that anyone could possibly need, seems lost and sad because they lack precisely the one thing that the Cirulisi have been blessed with.
The winner of several awards, among them Chicago’s and Frankfurt’s children’s film festivals, “Jampadracis” might be characterized as a children’s film, but it is a film for the child in all of us. It transcends the genre. The performances do not contain a single false note and Varis Braslas direction and the script by Alvis Lapins are exemplary.

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