Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

The Python 2003


Directed by Laila Pakalnina

Latvia In Latvian with English subtitles
88 minutes CinemaScope

Director, Screenplay


Gints Berzins


Sandra Alksne


Ainars Mielavs


Mara Kimele
Juris Grave
Januss Johansons
Ilze Pukinska


Venice 2003; Rotterdam 2004


This absurdist anomaly is set in and around a labyrinthine Latvian schoolhouse. With its incredibly dry deadpan humour and exquisite mobile photography, Laila Pakalnina’s second feature may remind viewers of last year’s oddball masterpiece Hukkle. A venomous headmistress who rules her school like a tyrant is hellbent on uncovering the culprit behind the latest affront to her authority (someone has shat in the school’s attic), but the arrival of the school’s photographer, vested monkey and slippery snake in tow, delays her bizarre investigation. Given the choice of being photographed with the monkey or the snake, the students choose the monkey, giving the snake ample opportunity to escape. The camera too escapes the confines of the school, giving us a glimpse into the gently surreal chaos of village life. 

“Audiences open to fresh approaches and experimental cinema will find the rewards are plentiful… best enjoyed as a serene, witty examination of the human condition… The Python is an utterly disarming experience.” — David Stratton, Variety