World Premieres of Latvian Films at Karlovy Vary IFF

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF, Czech Republic) began on Friday, June 28, and the A-Class film festival’s programme will feature the world premieres of three films connected to Latvia – our country will be represented by Laila Pakalniņa, studio VFS Films in collaboration with Estonian studio Vesilind, and also director Signe Birkova in the festival’s “EFP Future Frames” section.

Two of these films have been selected for the main KVIFF documentary film competition – from among ten contenders for the Crystal Globe is the Laila Pakalniņadirected three country co-production, the feature-length documentary Spoon / Karote, and director Ksenija Okhapkina’s film Immortal / Nemirstīgie / Surematu, a Latvia-Estonia co-production with producers Uldis Cekulis and Riho Västrik. This same team, together with their Lithuanian colleague Arūnas Matelis, also produced the Latvian Centennial film, Bridges of Time / Laika tilti, which just received the best documentary film award at the Shanghai IFF – this film had its world premiere exactly one year ago in the very same Karlovy Vary festival’s documentary film competition.


Laila Pakalniņa’s Spoon is a film about a plastic spoon and about society that has reached such a level of development that it extracts petroleum from the depths of the earth, transports it to a refinery, where it is turned into plastic, then transports the plastic to another factory, where it takes on the form of a spoon; then transports the spoons to all kinds of stores and eating establishments, where the spoon’s meaningful life lasts a mere ten minutes or so before… being thrown out.

This socially topical theme is clad in high-level artistic form – the black and white film’s cinematographer is Gints Bērziņš, co-author of almost 20 of Pakalniņa’s films. Unlike many of Pakalniņa’s films, which are shot in Latvia, the geography for Spoon is widespread – film material was shot in Lithuania, Norway, China, Hong Kong and Azerbaijan; the film is a Latvia-Lithuania-Norway co-production. For more information about the film: CLICK HERE. For the film’s trailer: CLICK HERE.

The national premiere for Spoon will take place during one of Latvia’s fall film festivals, which will be announced separately.


Young director Ksenija Okhapkina, born in St. Petersburg, has already received a festival award at the IDFA Amsterdam. Her comments on Immortal: “This is my first film that has a certain connection to the experiences of my childhood and teenage years in post-Soviet Russia – a place with its own rules that a young person took for granted and didn’t even question.” The film, which takes place in the industrial city of Apatity in Russia’s Far North, unveils the mechanism that encourages people to willingly deny individualism and become a usable resource in the hands of the nation. The director’s non-intrusive but exacting view unveils the “system” working in the most seemingly innocent everyday situations. What happens to the free will and self-determination of a person in these circumstances?

Script co-writer is Latvian writer and publicist Pauls Bankovskis, who spent a lot of time talking to the director about the imaginary glory of the “immortal hero”. The film’s sound was designed by well-known Russian sound engineer Aleksandr Dudarev, and final audio postproduction was done at VFS Films studio under Artis Dukaļskis. For more information about the film: CLICK HERE. For the film’s trailer: CLICK HERE.

The film’s Latvian premiere will take place in October at the Riga IFF, within the ArtDocFest programme.

Laila Pakalniņa’s Spoon in Karlovy Vary will premiere on Saturday, June 29, with screenings on June 30 and July 2; VFS Films co-production Immortal will be screened on July 2, 3 and 5.

The third Latvian participant in the Karlovy Vary festival is film director Signe Birkova, who was chosen to participate in the European Film Promotion programme Future Frames – this programme gathers together ten new and promising directors from various European countries and presents them as the next generation of European film.

These directors, recommended by participant countries and selected by a KVIFF team, will take part in an intensive four-day programme (30.06 – 03.07) that will feature the premiere of their latest film, special master classes led by internationally renowned film professionals, and meetings with film industry professionals – festival programmers, film distribution agents, producers, and others. Future Frames participants also receive unremitting international media attention. For more on the participants and the events: CLICK HERE. For an interview with Signe Birkova in the Cineuropa publication: CLICK HERE.

Signe Birkova is participating in the Karlovy Vary festival with her short film He Was Called Chaos Bērziņš (2018), her Master’s work at the Latvian Academy of Culture.

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) is one of the oldest film festivals in the world, and ranks among the Cannes, Berlin, Venice and Moscow film festivals; this year it is taking place for the 54th time from June 28 – July 6. For the festival’s webpage: CLICK HERE.