Watch the oldest movie shot in Latvia

Take note – story published 3 years and 7 months ago

The 2020 Rīga International Film Festival gets under way October 15 with a special screening of the earliest surviving film made in Latvia, and to mark the occasion you can also watch it live online with LSM.

The broadcast will not be geoblocked and should be viewable from anywhere in the world.

As previously reported by LSM a concert created especially for the opening of the Riga International Film Festival will take place at the historic Splendid Palace cinema at 19:00 Rīga time (16:00 GMT), 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.

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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.

The silent film Where is the Truth?! was shot in Riga and Ventspils and 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.

You can see the full program of the Rīga International Film Festival, which features many more online screenings, at the official website.

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