'Poetic documentarian' turns octogenarian

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Acclaimed documentary film-maker emeritus Ivars Seleckis and his wife Maija were both selected Tuesday to receive Latvia’s esteemed national film award ‘Lielais Kristaps’, to be presented in December.

Seleckis turned eighty years old Monday, marking the occasion with a retrospective celebratory screening of his works at the Splendid Palace cinema theatre.

He is one of Latvia’s unique documentary cinematographers, among the founders of Riga’s ‘poetical documentary’ film style and currently the land’s eldest actively working documentary maker.

He has received some of the world's leading international documentary film honors – the Robert Flaherty and Felix awards, in addition to many others.

He has made 30 documentary films as director and cinematographer, 15 as cinematographer, plus three feature films in his 54 years in the field. There seems hardly any corner or social segment of Latvia and its history Seleckis hasn’t once framed into view from behind his singular camera-lens, spanning back his first credits in 1960.

Among the many legendary names he worked with over the half-century is his life companion Maija Selecka, also a prolific and talented documentary film director and editor who shares authorship in many important works of Latvia’s ‘gold fund’ of historic reels.

The ‘Lielais Kristaps’ award will be presented at the close of the Riga International film festival from December 2-12.

But those who wish to begin delving into Seleckis’ work until then can look at the photo exhibit ‘Ivars Seleckis and his team’ at Splendid Palace, depicting behind-the-scenes views into the making of his works until October 15.

Above all, the beret-bearing lively and prolific director is currently enjoying critical praise for his most recent works, the 2014 cinema-novel ‘Ķīpsala; , about Riga’s unique island neighborhood, and 2013’s “Capitalism at Crossroads Street”, the third in his Crossroads series.

‘Ķīpsala’ was featured in the Riga2014 Capital of Culture program project ‘Force Majeure’, a collaboration between film-makers from seven countries, with Seleckis’ cinema-novel closing off the series.

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