This year, the festival lineup consisted of 129 films in 10 thematic programs and was presented in a new format – films were available for viewing in person as well as online across Latvia.
Liene Treimane, the Director of RIGA IFF said:
"This year has proven that a festival can be different. Cinephiles can still come together despite having to watch films on screens in their homes and having to distance and observe the multiple restrictions that have been imposed on cinemas. This year, we created a festival like none of us had ever experienced before: it was made up of 129 films in 66 in-person and 50 online screenings, and countless online meetings with film professionals from around the world. I would like to extend a special thank you to the festival’s daring team, including the over 100 tireless volunteers, as well as to all of our viewers.”
Ivan I. Tverdovsky’s drama Conference (Konferentsiya, Russia), a film about overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder over the course of many years and coming to terms with a tragic event, won the festival's feature film competition's main prize.
The FEATURE FILM COMPETITION program included eight films from the Baltic Sea region and the Nordic countries and included the long-awaited national premiere of the surreal tragicomedy What Silent Gerda Knows (Ko zina Klusā Gerda).
The feature films were judged by an international jury – director and producer Laila Pakalniņa, Marge Liiske, Head of [email protected] & Baltic Event at the Black Nights Film Festival, Dmitrij Gluscevskij, a Programmer at the European Film Forum Scanorama in Lithuania, Eva Markovits a Film Programmer at the legendary Cinémathèque Française, and Theo Tsappos from the Swedish Film Institute.
The main prize at RIGA IFF is the festival’s symbol – a bronze cast of the Rooster of Riga created by artist Ervins Broks. The director of the winning feature will also receive a cash prize of 2,000 euros.
The jury’s special mention goes to director Illum Jacobi’s reflection on philosopher Edmund Burke, in The Trouble with Nature (Denmark, France) – a subtle satire, under the guise of a costume drama, on humans’ relationship with the wildness of flora and fauna.
Nadja Andrasev's animated short film Symbiosis (France) won the International Competition of the short film section SHORT RIGA, which tells the story of a deceived woman who begins to investigate her husband's lovers.
Alise Zariņa's short film II Lines (Divas strīpiņas, Latvia) won the SHORT RIGA National Competition, a film in which six male actors relive 12 women’s personal stories about abortion. The winners of both competitions were selected by Wim Vanacker, a member of the Selection Committee for the Official Short Film Competition of the Cannes Film Festival, Signe Birkova, a Director and Co-founder of the Baltic Analog Lab, and Mikhail Zheleznikov, an organiser and curator of the experimental film festival Kinodot. The winners of both SHORT RIGA competitions will receive the prize Zalktis created by artist Maija Vītola. The winner of the international competition will additionally receive a cash prize of 1,000 euros supplied by the insurance company BALTA.
Since 2019 Riga International Film Festival and the SHORT RIGA section are one of 24 film institutions in the world who are able to put forward candidates for the prestigious European Film Awards nomination. This year's RIGA IFF Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards is Gabriel Böhmer’s Push This Button if You Begin to Panic (UK) – using experimental animation techniques, the film tells the story of a person reconciling with their illness.
For the sixth year in a row, the Baltic Music Video Competition took place as part of the SHORT RIGA section – this competition is unique to the Baltic States and offers viewers a professional overview of this specific artistic genre. The main prize of this competition, and the third SHORT RIGA Zalktis, was awarded to the video Kapapuu by the group Puuluup made by Zbanski Kino, while special jury mention was given to Bruises On Her Legs directed by Igne Narbutaite and Kabloonak, performed by Kabloonak.
The Splendid Palace cinema presented the Audience Award to director Andrey A. Tarkovsky Jr.’s documentary reflection on his father, legendary film director Andrey Tarkovsky. Viewers will be able to watch Andrey Tarkovsky. A Cinema Prayer (Italy, Russia, Sweden) again at a special screening at Splendid Palace on 31 October at 15:30.
The children's jury also selected their favourite out of the RIGA IFF family film competition KIDS WEEKEND. The young experts presented their main award to Mischa Kamp's Romy's Salon (Kapsalon Romy, Netherlands), a film about the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter.
This year’s RIGA IFF FORUM – a series of events dedicated to both professionals and newcomers to the film industry – took place entirely online for the first time and brought together participants from all over the world. A discussion about the opportunities that “alternative” realities could bring to education and a 28-hour hackathon took place at RIGA IFF GOES XR, and professionals from the Baltic Sea Region and the Nordic countries could study the production of television series in depth at MAGNETIC SERIES.
At a discussion about the GREEN CHARTER initiative, solutions for sustainable and climate-friendly cinema were looked at, and creative short film projects were presented at the SHORT RIGA Test Screenings, whereas the BALTIC ANIMATION MEET-UP provided participants with an opportunity to network and expand their knowledge of the field of animation.
A number of lectures, discussions and other events were also available for viewing during the festival, the recordings of which are available for viewing on the festival's YouTube channel.