Time stands still for a 9-year-old girl’s Belarussian village in Aliaksei Paluyan’s short film, Lake of Happiness. Young Jasja (Anastasiya Plyats) lives with her parents and baby brother. When her mother dies, Jasja’s father (Igor Sigov) sends her to an orphanage with a promise that it’s only temporary and he will come back for her soon.
As Jasja begins making friends, she remains somewhat distant because her father will get her any day now. Sadly, that’s precisely what the parents of her friends told them as well. Patience wears thin, and Jasja decides to escape the orphanage and return home only to arrive just in time for her father’s wedding.
“…sends her to an orphanage with a promise that it’s only temporary…”
Lake of Happiness is a sad yet beautiful movie. Writer/director Paluyan captures of contrasting isolation and beauty of Belarus wonderfully. Anastasiya Plyats is captivating as Jasja, considering there is very little dialogue throughout the short. All the acting is done through subtle facial expressions, such as when Jasja sits in the dining hall or waiting outside the orphanage office. The intense stares and furrowed brows escalate at the wedding table and her first family dinner with her new mother. Paluyan’s short succeeds not only in storytelling but also in acting without words and with children.
"…all the acting is done through subtle facial expressions..."