In the Estonian capital, Tallinn, the only A-class film festival in Northern Europe – Black Nights Film Festival – is currently taking place, and a notable number of Latvian films and projects are participating in the competition programme and project categories. On November 18, director Viesturs Kairišs’ feature The Sign Painter will have its international premiere in the festival’s Official Selection competition. Director Laila Pakalniņa’s film In the Mirror will also have its international premiere in the same competition. There are seven Latvian films in the Baltic Film Competition.

The Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival is taking place from November 13 – 29, 2020, partially in persons in film theatres, and partially via direct-link. As reported previously, the Tallinn film festival’s official competition programme will include director Laila Pakalniņa’s latest feature In the Mirror; the first of four in-person screenings, the film’s international premiere will take place on November 22. In a rare occurrence – this year Latvia is represented in the Tallinn festival’s official competition by two films, and right on Latvia’s 102 birthday, November 18, Viesturs Kairišs’ feature The Sign Painter, will celebrate its international premiere.

Latvia is most widely represented in the Baltic Film Competition, wherein Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian films are selected by international experts; this year’s competition will feature 14 films in total and seven of those are connected to Latvia. Festival director Tiina Lokk has stated: “For this programme we’ve concentrated as full a cultural and cinematic overview as the film sector in the three Baltic States can offer, featuring films screened in international festivals as well as completely innovative explorations. I am truly happy with the diversity that we’ve achieved.”

In this year’s Baltic Film Competition Latvia will be represented by three films that just received awards in the Lielais Kristaps (Latvian National Film Awards) feature film category – best feature Blizzard of Souls (dir. Dzintars Dreibergs), best feature documentary Latvian Coyote (dir. Ivars Zviedris) and best animation My Favorite War (dir. Ilze Burkovska-Jakobsen). The Tallinn festival’s Baltic Film Competition will also showcase films that have yet to be screened in Latvia – Vitaly Mansky’s documentary Gorbachev. Heaven had its premiere postponed due to the pandemic, and director Dace Pūce’s feature debut, the PIT, which was just awarded the Grand Prix prize at the Lübeck Nordic Film Days festival a week ago.

Along with the films connected to Latvia, there are also two Lithuanian films made in co-operation with Latvian film studios – Šarūnas Bartas’ historical drama In the Dusk (with studio Mistrus Media), which was part of the official selection at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, and Giedrė Žickytė’s documentary The Jump (with VFS Films).

The festival’s special programme Current Waves, which showcases films of diverse artistic spectrum and broad audience appeal that have already been screened and awarded at other festivals, will feature Russian director Alexei Uchitel’s film Tsoi  – a co-production with Latvia, with production involvement from studio Mistrus Media. In turn, the studio Ego Media co-production with the Czech Republic, the feature The Pack, has been selected for the JF Youth Competition programme.

The film industry’s part of the event, the Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event Works in Progress, seeks new opportunities, sales agents, festivals and international premieres for 18 projects in production or post-production phases. This year Tallinn film festival industry events will take place via direct-link; project presentation can be viewed on November 24 on the website:

All projects presented in the Baltic Event, showcasing Baltic and Finnish films as well as the International Works in Progress categories are competing for the EUR 10,000 Post Production Award. The EUR 3,000 Baltic Event Works in Progress award winner will be chosen as well.

Seven promising projects from the Baltic States and Finland have been selected for the Baltic Event Works in Progress category. This attests to the view that professionals have on this region’s film industry potential. The two Latvian film projects in the Baltic Event Works in Progress category are the drama Lovable, directed by Staņislavs Tokalovs, and Neon Spring by director Matīss Kaža.

This year Estonia will be represented by two projects, both of which are being created through co-operation with Latvia – the sports drama Kalev, together with studio Ego Media, and Apothecary Melchior with Film Angels Studio, shot in Cinevilla, in Latvia. And in the Just Films Work in Progress category, a co-production project between the Latvian studio Lokomotīve and producer Roberts Vinovskis with director Jaak Kilmi, who is already well known in Latvia, has been selected.

In the Baltic Event / Co-Production Market taking place from November 25-26, director Dāvis Sīmanis’ up-and-coming historical drama project, Maria’s Silence (studio Mistrus Media) has been selected. An intended TV series by the brothers Raitis and Lauris Ābele, Wandering Souls, is among the projects in the Script Pool TV programme category, while the project Lazlo produced by Tasse Film was selected for the MidPoint TV Launch category.

Prepared by:
Zane Kauliņa,
NFC Senior Officer
(Promotion of domestic films abroad)
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