NFC Family Film Contest Results

The Latvian National Film Centre’s contest has now closed, and total support of EUR 1 240 417 is slated to be given to four feature-length fiction film projects with child, youth and family-friendly content. The films in progress offer a wide-ranging spectrum in content and artistic style and will hit the screens in 2019 and 2020.


The total available 2018 production financing for child, youth and family-friendly films is EUR 1 240 417. In terms of the financing distribution, the NFC panel of experts asks that the growth in the Latvian film sector’s capacity as the result of the Centenary programme and the potential to expand the genre-diversity of the supported films be considered. That’s why four projects will receive financial support for starting new film production – Where the Road Leads (dir. Matīss Kaža, studio Fenixfilm, EUR 420 130), Christmas in the Jungle (dir. Jaak Kilmi, studio Lokomotīve, EUR 300 152), In the Mirror (dir. Laila Pakalniņa, Kompānija Hargla, EUR 430 135) and The Pit (dir. Dace Pūce, studio Marana Production, EUR 90 000). In 2019 the four films will also receive support for finishing production.

Two of the supported films will be made by directors making their debut in the feature-length fiction film format. NYU Tisch School of the Arts graduate Matīss Kaža, who is known to Latvian viewers through his student documentary One Ticket Please (Vienu biļeti, lūdzu!, 2016), will be able to showcase his wide-ranging knowledge and love of the Western genre with his new feature Where the Road Leads. Together with a veteran team – cinematographer Aleksandrs Grebņevs and artist Jurģis Krāsons – Matīss Kaža will create a youth-oriented romantic adventure story set in the 19th century manor in the Vidzeme region.

Dace Pūce, who has graduated from the Latvian Academy of Culture with a Master’s in film directing, is basing her film The Pit on writer Jana Egle’s stories. Set in the present-day – it is a topical cross-section of society about children growing up without parents (deceased or departed) who therefore encounter emotional abuse and relationship problems.

Roberts Vinovskis, producer of Christmas in the Jungle, has extensive experience in working with our Baltic neighbours, and this new film will be a Latvian-Estonian production. The director is Jaak Kilmi, and the creative team is the same one behind Kilmi’s previous feature, The Dissidents (Sangarid, 2017) – cinematographer Aigars Sērmukšs and production designer Katrin Sipelgas. The film is about a family that relocates to Indonesia for the father’s work and comes to the verge of collapse, with both daughters also experiencing their own problems in the foreign land. Their only idea of self-preservation is to head into the jungle and look for Santa Claus, who, according to local legend, has been living there for many years. The film’s production plan includes several weeks of filming in Indonesia.

Director Lailas Pakalniņa’s project In the Mirror attests to an innovative and experimental approach to cinematic language and artistic quality of cinematic imagery – together with veteran cinematographer Gints Bērziņš, the film will be created using “selfie stylistics” and will transpose the old Snow White fairy-tale into the youth-centric present, with a fitness-obsessed wicked step-mother and seven extreme-sports-enthusiast dwarves (casting – young men from the Czech Cirk la Putyka contemporary acrobatic circus ensemble).

The NFC panel of experts included director, professor Pēteris Krilovs, head of the Latvian Animation Association and European Animation Awards board member Anna Zača, and NFC representative Kristīne Matīsa.

Specially invited society representatives also voiced their opinions on the projects to the panel of experts: Riga International Film Festival (Riga IFF) Kids Weekend children’s programming curator and film critic Kristīne Simsone, the Latvian Writers’ Union designated representative, journalist and writer Egils Venters, and social research specialist Ilze Mileiko from the University of Latvia, Dept. of Anthropology – the opinions of the representatives almost completely matched those of the NFC experts.

It should be noted that all four of the projects receiving production support also received NFC financial support for project development after participating in the 2017 film development contest promoting child, youth and family-friendly content. Three out of the four supported projects are international co-productions with an average budget of EUR 1 million and potential for distribution abroad.