Jānis Streičs

Film director and scriptwriter Jānis Streičs was born on September 26, 1936, in Preiļi parish. He completed is elementary education at Gailīši Elementary School in Rušona Parish, and graduated from Rēzekne pedagogical school in 1955 before working as a teacher and in amateur theatre; he served in the Soviet Army in the Voronezh area of Russia. Following his service, he moved to Rīga and in the late autumn of 1959 enrolled in the Latvian State Conservatory Theatre Faculty directing department.

In 1963, after graduation, teacher and film director Aleksandrs Leimanis offered his student the opportunity to work as assistant director on the film Cielaviņas armija (1964), and soon after Jānis Streičs became the second director in Leimanis’ film ‘Tobago’ maina kursu (1965). In 1967, the new director’s debut feature film Kapteiņa Enriko pulkstenis premiered. The film’s co-director, as in his next film Līvsalas zēni (1969), was Ēriks Lācis, one of Jānis Streičs’ fellow students.

Jānis Streičs’ first independently directed film was titled Šauj manā vietā! (1970), in which he also played a pastor- Father Arsēnijs. His filmography features many more acting roles – educator Dūms in Oļģerts Dunkers’ film Cāļus skaita rudenī (1973), director Kalsons in Oļģerts Dunkers’ film Vīrietis labākajos gados (1977), as well as two roles in films he also directed – author in movie Teātris (1978) and priest in the film Cilvēka bērns (1991). Jānis Streičs has always maintained active involvement in writing scripts for his own films, worked as co-scriptwriter for Dzidra Ritenberga’s film Šīs bīstamās balkona durvis (1976) and wrote the scripts for seven of his own movies independently, including his latest work Rūdolfa mantojums (2010).

In total, Jānis Streičs has shot 22 feature films, with many winning awards at international film festivals, with festivals in Moscow, Boston and Chicago among others. Streičs’ directed film Cilvēka bērns received the top prize at the San Remo International Film Festival in 1992, the second prize at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 1993, and the first prize at a Moscow Film Festival in 1993.  The director was also the first Latvian to be granted the honour of receiving the Vatican Beato Angelico per L’Europa. It is also significant to note, that in the Soviet Union film directorial system only two Latvian directors have been recognized as elite film directors – they were Aloizs Brenčs and Jānis Streičs.

In 1998, Jānis Streičs was awarded the Order of the Three Stars, he is a member of the Latvian Academy of Science, and was a Latvian Filmmakers Union President and the Chairman of the Rīga Latvian Society. In 2006 when he celebrated his 70th birthday, Rīga Film Museum opened an extensive exhibition on the mysteries of Jānis Streičs, cinema “Rīga” hosted a retrospective of the director’s filmography, and during the year MicRec came out with an anniversary CD titled Jānis Streičs. Music from his films.

Streičs is also a talented writer, supported by the fact that in the autumn of 2006 he published the books Lāga dvēseļu straumē, a story about the film industry to allow readers to get to know its personalities, and 1991. Tas garais cilvēkbērna gads (2012), a reflection on his time during the creation of Cilvēka bērns. Since ceasing his active work in film, Jānis Streičs has focused on social activity and painting, participating in several exhibitions with his oil paintings of the Latvian landscape.

In 2016, Jānis Streičs turned 80 and to celebrate, the National Film Centre and the Riga Film Museum dubbed 2016 ‘The Year of Jānis Streičs’. Throughout Latvia, various celebrations and extensive programs culminated in the autumn, beginning in September- Jānis Streičs’ birthday month.