LATVIAN FILMS AND PROJECTS IN DEMAND WORLDWIDE
In September and October, new and up-and-coming films from Latvia actively took part in various film-world activities – selected for international film programmes and film industry events – filmmakers participated in master classes and project development workshops. Among the currently internationally active projects: Latvian children’s films and works from film studio Animācijas Brigāde, up-and-coming works from Dāvis Sīmanis and the brothers Raitis and Lauris Ābele, and the latest works from Jevgeņijs Paškēvičs, Aija Bley and studio VFS Films. Also, the third annual Baltic Film Festival is about to take place in New York.
In Poland, the children’s film festival Kino Dzieci (https://kinodzieci.pl/) just ended, and during its run from 26.09-4.10 films were screened simultaneously in 20 Polish cities in theatres and via direct link. The film Away from Gints Zilabalodis was included in the festival’s Discoveries competition, while children’s films from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia took part in the From the Baltic Sea special programme. Latvia was represented by Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs (2018), a Latvian Centenary Film by Edmunds Jansons, Mother, I Love You (2013) by Jānis Nords, the Latvian-Estonian co-production animation, Lotte from Gadgetville (2006), Nils Skapāns’ clay animation, Cat in the Bag (2013) and several puppet animation films from studio Animācijas Brigāde – Acorn Boy (2010), Piglet’s Journey (2016), Crispy (2014) and Pea Children (2020) by Dace Rīdūze, and Guards of the Forest (2015) and Waikiki (2017) by Māris Brinkmanis.
Jevgeņijs Paškēvics’ latest feature, What Silent Gerda Knows, had its world premiere in the Out of Competition Russian Trace programme at the venerable Moscow International Film Festival, (http://www.moscowfilmfestival.ru/ ), taking place from October 1-8. The film’s national premiere is scheduled for October 22 in the Riga International Film Festival’s (Riga IFF) competition programme.
Among projects from 12 different countries, Dāvis Sīmanis and Tabita Rudzāte’s screenplay for Marijas Klusums/Maria’s Silence has been selected for the international script development programme ScripTeast, with the first session beginning on October 8. It’s a story about the actress Marija Leiko and the fate of the Latvian theatre Skatuve in Moscow in the 1930s. The ScripTeast programme has been operating for 15 years, and within the programme’s framework international industry experts guide the script authors over the course of almost a year. The first session, which will have the project authors in talks with notable film professionals, will be followed by a presentation of draft scripts that will take place via direct link until the end of December. The two following sessions will take place next year at the Berlinale and Cannes film festivals, where the authors will have the chance to present their projects to industry representatives, and, if successful, gain international support and partners for their projects. The programme will end during the Cannes IFF with the presentation of the Krzysztof Kieślowski ScripTeast award for best screenplay from the Central and Eastern European regions.
Similarly, the Baltic Pitching Forum (8-10.10, https://bpf.lt/), organized by Lithuania, which starts on October 8, will feature short film projects presented by young filmmakers from the Baltic States and Poland via direct link. Latvia will be represented at this event by film directors, the brothers Raitis and Lauris Ābele. Animation film director Lizete Upīte, utilizing the experience with her internationally-recognized film Riga’s Lilac, will host a lecture on how to use international pitching sessions, courses and master classes in animation film development. The forum is organized in cooperation with Baltic State short film festivals (including Riga IFF Short Riga and 2Annas from Latvia), and is supported by MEDIA’s Creative Europe.
On October 9 in the Polish capital, the regionally-notable Warsaw Film Festival (9-18.10, https://wff.pl/en/) will begin, and Latvia’s presence is significant, especially in the documentary film competition. Director Aija Bley’s We Wanted To Change the World (2020) about the indie group Inokentijs Mārpls (the film’s national premiere was on May 4 during the Latvian Film Marathon) is included, as is studio VFS Films co-production with Lithuania and France, director Giedre Žickīte’s film The Jump, which will also be screened in festivals in Rome, New York and Tallinn in the near future. The film’s Latvian premiere will take place on November 27 during ArtDocFest.
The Warsaw Film Festival’s competition programme 1-2, featuring directors’ first or second films, will include Ilze Burkovska-Jacobsen’s documentary animation My Favourite War, currently playing in Latvian cinemas, which just had its premiere in Canada within the Ottawa International Animation Festival’s competition programme (23.09-4.10). In turn, two features selected for the WFF’s main competition programme include Latvia as a minority co-production partner – Alexei Uchitel’s film Tsoi (Latvian studio Mistrus Media) and the Romanian/Czech/Latvian co-production Unidentified (Latvian studio Tasse Films).
On Saturday, October 10, in Saxony, Germany, the Schlingel International Film Festival (for children) will begin (10-17.10, https://ff-schlingel.de/en/ ), and the latest films from studio Animācijas Brigāde – Dace Rīdūze’s Pea Children and Jānis Cimmermanis’ London Holidays have been selected for competition in different age group categories. And that is but one of the stops this year for films from this studio’s directors. Since May, when both films had their international premieres in Portugal, the films were also selected for the Constantine’s Gold Coin (20-24.07) animation festival in Serbia. London Holidays was also screened at the Supertoon festival in Croatia. Future studio Animācijas Brigāde film plans include the Big Cartoon festival in Moscow (29.10-9.11), FluXus Animatiefilm in The Netherlands (31.10), and London Holidays and Dace Rīdūze’s The Dust will be screened at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in November.
And the final event included in this summary and worth a special mention is the New York Baltic Film Festival (https://www.balticfilmfestival.com/), which is divided into three parts this year. The first part, taking place from October 15-18, will offer direct links for films from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia throughout the USA territory. At this festival Latvia will be represented by features from Alise Zariņa, Jānis Nords and Juris Kursietis.
NFC Senior Officer
Promotion of Domestic Films Abroad