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Kurzeme Fortress

A deeply moving story about the tragic impact of war on a young family, but ultimately, also a story of survival and resolution. Unaware of what is to come a 24-year-old Voldemārs joins the Latvian Army in 1940. With the world watching Hitler’s invasion of Paris, it fails to notice some thirty thousand Soviet troops marching into Latvia. Voldemārs meets Millija while on leave, they fall deeply in love and a year later and married.

In 1941 Nazi German Forces sweep through Latvia pushing out the Russian Forces, Voldemārs escapes into forest with his unit being killed in the attack. Yet to even meet his newborn son, Andris, Voldemārs is captured and placed in the Stalag 336 Nazi P.O.W. camp. Left with no choice he is eventually coursed into joining the German Army to fight the next Soviet invasion, briefly getting to see his wife and son. Voldemārs receives training by the Germans and after one last embrace by his young family he is sent into one of WWII’s most fierce battlefronts, the Kurzeme Fortress, aptly named the ‘Kurland Kettle' by the Germans. A hurriedly scribbled note arrives to Millija dated March 1945, it simply says “Today we left for Kurzeme”.

Knowing what this meant Millija quickly packs a suitcase with some bread and clothing, then under cover of darkness and with baby Andris flees her home as the Red Army is surrounding the city. Voldemārs unit will be cut off and no more letters will arrive. Torn apart by war, both sides of this young family struggle to survive without the other. This heartbreaking separation will strike a universal chord with anyone who understands the deep resilience of family bonds.

  • Kelly Hetherington
  • Kelly Hetherington
  • Derek Griffiths
  • Adrian Twigg
    Key Cast
  • Sophie Don
    Key Cast
  • Joylene Stanley
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, War
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 28 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 14, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • West End Film Festival
    May 28, 2017
    World Premiere
    Best Film
  • Screen it Film Festival
    Gold Coast
    October 6, 2017
    Best Director
  • Real Film Festival
    October 28, 2017
    Best Film
  • Noosa International Film Festival
    October 29, 2017
  • Sydney indie Film Festival
    September 23, 2017
    NSW Premiere
  • Salute Your Shorts
    Los Angeles
    United States
    August 26, 2017
    US Premiere
  • UK Monthly Film Festival
    Watton Norfolk
    United Kingdom
    April 8, 2017
    Best Film
  • Los Angeles CineFest
    Los Angeles
    United States
    July 27, 2017
  • Normandie-World War II International Film Festival
    June 4, 2017
    World Premiere
Director Biography - Kelly Hetherington

Kelly Hetherington is a debut Director, Writer and Actor working out of sunny Brisbane in Queensland Australia. His recent credits include "Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Men Tell No Tales" as a Barbosa Pirate and Director of "Kurzeme Fortress". He started in commercials as an extra and starred in few award winning short films including "Departures" by Luke Farrow.

His mother Sylvija Karklins is a Latvian woman who gave birth to Kelly in Christchurch, New Zealand. His mothers parents were WW2 Latvian immigrants. Although brought up in a poorer family Kelly found great freedom in the creative arts, with singing, writing, dancing and performing from an early age.

Kelly's Directorial debut "Kurzeme Fortress" was written in honor of his Latvian Grandmother and is based on the book "Andris, Where Are You?" by Ron Crosby.

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