Latvian Director Juris Kursietis' film 'Oleg' premieres at Cannes

May 17 saw the world premiere of the Latvian director Juris Kursietis' film "Oleg" in the "Director's Fortnight" section of the Cannes Film Festival dedicated to spotlighting young film directors.

Even though the film is not competing for the "Palme d'Or" in the festival's Official Selection, the film's inclusion in the "Director's Fortnight" has garnered worldwide publicity and international attention.

"Oleg" is Juris Kursietis' second film. His debut "Modris" (2014), which had its international premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, showed that the director, together with his "Tasse Film" studio producers Alise Ģelze and Aija Bērziņā, finds inspiration in Latvian reality including the sometimes harsh aspects of growing up in the country.

According to the director's statements after the film's premiere at Cannes, Oleg, the eponymous protagonist of his new film, is based on a real individual, about whom Kursietis had read in an interview in the Latvian press.

Oleg, played by a Lithuanian actor named Valentinas Novopolskis, is an ethnic Russian young man who lives in Latvia as a non-citizen and travels to Belgium to work in a meat factory. In the course of the film, it becomes clear from Oleg's dialogues with other characters, especially his phone conversations with his grandmother back in Latvia, that he has left some unpaid debts at home. These conversations also reveal him to be a sympathetic person eager to solve the problems he himself has created.

"Each of us could be Oleg and maybe all of us are... in different ways," said the director.

Oleg's story resembles another film screening at this year's Cannes – Ken Loach's family drama "Sorry We Missed You". Ken Loach is the twice recipient of the "Palme d'Or" prize.

The premiere of "Oleg" also closely coincided with the premiere of the long-anticipated Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's new film "Pain and Glory".

Juris Kursietis' "Oleg" will premiere in Latvia on October 4 at the "Splendid Palace" cinema.

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