World press cheers Latvian cinema

Take note – story published 9 years ago

The Riga International Film Festival (Riga IFF), which culminated in the European Film Academy awards ceremony Saturday at the Latvian National Opera building square, won accolades for its strengthening of ties between the local motion picture industry, and that of western Europe and the rest of the world.

As Scott Roxborough of the Hollywood Reporter wrote under the headline –  “tiny Latvia looking west”, the nation’s film industry leveraged the Riga IFF to showcase its own array of works as well as selections from its neighboring countries’ filmmakers for the international press in an ever-expanding search for partners in co-production and distribution around the world.

Latvia has in place a system of financial incentives to attract the world’s production companies and filmmakers to the unique cinematographic landscapes of Riga and many provincial towns, which can serve as stand-ins for historical settings and other European locations.

“We are really seeing an increase in productions from outside now, thanks to the incentives, we've had productions from Germany, from England, from India, from Japan,” Roberts Vinovskis, the Latvian producer of animated feature Rocks in My Pockets, which is Latvia's official entry for the 2015 foreign language Oscar, told the Hollywood Reporter.

“We are a small country so co-productions are a necessity for us and we need to establish the contacts with producers outside the country, particularly in Europe.”

Roxborough cited Jānis Nords’ surprise success with his family drama Mother, I Love You as yet another example of Latvian cinema’s “strong track record.” Indeed, the coming-of-age story starring first-time child actors took Latvia’s own ‘Oscar’ – the Lielais Kristaps award at Thursday’s ceremony leading up to the EFA Awards two days later.

Latvian producer, Guntis Trekteris of Ego Media, remarked that joint projects with Europe were simpler to realize this year since Latvia joined the eurozone. Work with Russia, however, has gotten more difficult as that country's economy continued its downward spirals.

“The ruble has fallen 30 percent his year and it looks like the government will be giving less support to Russian filmmakers,” says Trekteris. “We've had talks with Russian producers who have shot in Riga and would like to do so again but can't commit because of the financial problems in Russia.”

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