Rīga International Film Festival to open with worldwide 'cine-concert'

Take note – story published 3 years ago

A concert created especially for the opening of the Riga International Film Festival will take place at the historic Splendid Palace cinema on 15 October, accompanying the oldest feature film made in the territory of Latvia, Where is the Truth?! (Kur patiesība?!, 1913). The original music has been co-created and will be performed by musicians Artūrs Liepiņš and Jēkabs Nīmanis.

Only 100 tickets are available to attend the cine-concert in person, but viewers from all over the world will be able to watch the event free of charge online. RIGA IFF will take place from 15 to 25 October and tickets for all festival screenings will go on sale soon.

The cine-concert that will take the audience back 107 years, with a sound spanning across time. Musicians Artūrs Liepiņš and Jēkabs Nīmanis will perform an original score they composed together, while the oldest preserved feature film shot in the territory of Latvia will play on screen – the tragic love story Where Is The Truth?!

The first “cinematic dramas” were shot in Riga in 1913 with the participation of not only local artists, but also of artists from Berlin and Moscow. The “picture houses” of the time tried to meet modern technical standards: the halls were equipped with a recently invented device that prevented the image from shaking, or catching on fire, and in some places a “silver screen” made up of glass pearls was even put up to help the image come to life. Short films that had used gramophone records to ensure synchronous sound went out of fashion. Live accompaniment by individual musicians, or whole orchestras, or less frequently, by actors’ recitations, became the voice of silent cinema at that time.

1913 film 'Where is the truth?!'
1913 film 'Where is the truth?!'

The silent film Where is the Truth?! that was shot in Riga and Ventspils reached audiences in 1913, thanks to Siegfried Mintus – a producer, owner of film theatres and distributor of motion pictures and cinema equipment. The screenplay is based on a play by Abraham S. Schomer, a lawyer, writer and author of the idea for the World Jewish Congress, On the Sea and Ellis Island (Afn yam un Ellis Island), which has been filmed and staged for the theatre many times. It is the story of a Jewish orphan who was forced to register as a prostitute in order to stay in the city where her lover lives. Being accused of robbery and consequently being imprisoned awakens unbearably painful memories from the past for the woman. In 2020, the film was restored by the studio Locomotive Classics at the initiative of the Riga Film Museum, and with the support of the State Culture Capital Foundation.

Both musicians giving the opening of the festival’s seventh iteration its voice have experience in cinema. Artūrs Liepiņš created the soundtrack for the German silent film People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag, 1930), an important film in European cinema history, commissioned by the Les Arcs Film Festival. He also created the soundtracks for Paradise ’89 (Paradīze ’89, 2018), All My Friends Are Dead (Visi mani draugi miruši, 2019) and Fable (2019). The musician is an audio artist for RIGA IFF and is known in other parts of the world, especially in Francophone countries, for his musical alter-ego project Domenique Dumont.

The other half of the creative tandem is Jēkabs Nīmanis who has created film soundtracks since 2008 and received the Lielais Kristaps national film award for the music for the film Māra (2014). Since 2010 he has been creating the sound for the children’s favourite animated short film series Shammies (Lupatiņi). He additionally composes for theatre, actively performs at concerts in Latvia and works with sound installation and audio-visual design.

The cine-concert will be available for free worldwide. Tickets will go on sale for those wishing to witness the premiere of the composition and the restored version of Where Is the Truth?! in person. This will take place in the cinema Splendid Palace, which was inaugurated just 10 years after the film was made. 

100 tickets to the cine-concert in the Great Hall of Splendid Palace on 15 October at 19:00 are now available on the festival’s website – rigaiff.lv – for 15 euros. Closer to the event, information about the free live broadcast will be published on the festival’s website and Facebook page.

RIGA IFF is supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation, the EU Creative Europe – MEDIA program, the National Film Centre of Latvia and the Riga City Council.

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