In the National Film Centre’s second of three film industry calls for applications for extra funding – for the production of low-budget features – two new film projects, from directors Elza Gauja and Ivars Tontegode, will receive support.

As in the call for applications for TV series with results announced on 9 September, financing for the low-budget feature film call for applications was granted from within the 2020 state budget allocation for unforeseen events. In order to support the cultural sector, which was seriously damaged due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the emergency situation announced in the spring, in June the Cabinet of Ministers, as per the action plan developed by the Ministry of Culture, made the decision to grant financial support in 2020 to the cultural sector from funds allocated for unforeseen events, including: 2 million – for the Latvian film sector.  The National Film Centre is granting this emergency financing through several calls for applications, and the decision was taken to also use the financing in support of new film projects, not just to compensate for financial problems created by the emergency situation.

The available funding for the low-budget feature film call for applications is EUR 180,000; nine film projects were submitted for experts’ panel review, and the regulations of the call for applications provided to support at least two projects to be completed and premiered in Latvia in 2021. All project submitters had the chance to further elaborate on their intentions in virtual pitch with the National Film Centre’s panel of experts – film director Andis Mizišs, animation director Edmunds Jansons, and Head of Production at the Nacional Film Centre, Inga Blese.

The projects each received EUR 90,000 in financial support, and with that these young generation directors of two small-budget features will begin the process of creating their films.

Debut director Elza Gauja, who up to now has been most widely known as an actress in the films Nothing Can Stop Us Now (2019) and Class Reunion 2 (2019), together with Andris Gauja and Studio Riverbed will make the black comedy film, Mom Still Smiles, with a script written with significant input by the film’s three leading actresses – Anta Aizupe, Baiba Broka and Daiga Kažociņa. The film is based on an absurd situation – three very different sisters, who have been at odds with each other for years, living in different countries, are suddenly forced to illegally criss-cross half of Europe together in one car. For small-budget purposes this road-movie production will be shot entirely in Latvia, with the various European locations recreated through the creativity of the art department.

In turn, director Ivars Tontegode together with producer Guna Stahovska (Mojo Raiser Production), will produce the feature Anna LOL, aimed at a high-school-aged audience, with a script based on the diary of real-life girl Marta Sofija, who navigates a series of dramatic experiences and existential questions in school and at home – a young person searching for their own identity and forming a relationship with reality. The question noted in the synopsis of the film is – “Will Anna survive?”

Both low-budget features supported through the call for application will be available to audiences in 2021.


Prepared by

Kristīne Matīsa,

Senior Officer (info. on Latvian film industry)

National Film Centre of Latvia