North Pole

Short film | 2024

Young ice cream vendor Max, who aspires to become a techno musician, experiences a paralyzing fear of performing before stepping on stage at a rave club and is forced to embark on an introspective yet visually expressive journey. Where until now insecurity and the cold presence of the guardian of loneliness Alex has dominated, there the young man suddenly meets the charming Helen, who is determined to free Max from the clutches of self-doubt.

Latvian National Film Award


Leiden Shorts

World Premiere | Special Mention - Brand New Eyes Competition

The short film “North Pole” is an audiovisual exploration of identity in the form of a dreamlike contemporary fairy tale. Shot on 16 mm film, it’s a playful cinematic journey that blurs the lines between reality and the mind of the main character. Max, a young ice-cream truck merchant and artist, experiences paralyzing stage fright before his DJ performance in an underground techno club. Trapped in self-doubt about his artistic, social abilities, and sexuality, Max attempts to find his courage and encounters two ambiguous characters who personify his emotions.

The suffocatingly friendly male character, Alex, embodies Max’s loneliness and keeps him isolated from the rest of the world. However, the female character, Helen, serves as the muse of self-confidence, grabbing Max’s attention but eventually trapping him in a place where he needs to find balance and independence from these overwhelming inner forces.

The script’s idea originated from the introspective depths of myself as a musician, artist, and young film director, characterizing fragmented identity. It also resulted from the peculiar social rollercoaster that we experienced during the pandemic. Focusing on modern youth in Eastern Europe, the film covers themes such as identity, self-confidence, loneliness, sexuality, and rave culture. Alternating between an underground rave club and a foggy, dreamlike seashore, it also portrays the landscape of Baltic countries.

By utilizing eclectic yet homogenous visual aesthetics inspired by the French movement Cinéma du look, particularly films by Leos Carax, who extensively quoted great predecessors of cinema, "North Pole" takes shape through stylized visual language and a love for analogue cinema. The story is also conveyed through a contrasting mix of techno and choir music that represents the opposing inner forces bombarding the main character. The use of contemporary dance and expressive editing builds to the story's climax and offers multiple interpretations of the film's "meaning."


Cast – Eliass Zandmanis, Jurijs Djakonovs, Elizabete Milta, Marija Linarte, Rihards Sniegs, Dimitrijs Panfilovs

Director – Roberts Vanags

Producer – Nikola Ozola, Emīls Alps

Director of Photography – Anna Konovalova

Editors – Roberts Vanags, Līna Brauna


Art Director – Estere Betija Grāvere

Costume Designers – Marta Folkmane, Monta Masaļksa

Makeup artist – Kseniia Galchenko


Assistant Director – Matīss Saulītis

Choreographer – Karīna Lapšina

Sound director – Edvards Broders