Documentary examines Latvian song festival under Soviet occupation

Latvian Television's series of short documentary films has another offering for you, complete with English-language subtitles.

This week's subject is the fate of the national song festival during the years of Soviet occupation. Originally a powerful force contributing to the drive towards national independence, the Soviets tried hard to twist the song festival into a useful cultural tool of their own by changing its date, repertoire and ideological justification but never really succeeded in crushing its spirit and eventually found that their emphasis on collective identity would rebound on them in an unexpected way in the 'Singing Revolution' of the Baltic States.

Particular attention is paid to the fate of legendary choral conductor Haralds Mednis, whose life and professional career encompassed both tragedy and triumph.

According to LTV "The Keys" series tells of the most important or "key" events, personalities and turning points in the history of the Latvian state from 1918 to the present. The purpose is to reveal each selected event from an unusual point of view, as if "unlocking the door" to lesser known and therefore particularly intriguing facts. 

"Such an exploratory approach, bypassing the usual stereotypes of presenting history, will allow viewers to perceive what is known to others and to better understand what has happened in the context of today's experience," says LTV.

Throughout the year, Latvian history will be told in 'mixed order' - events will not be sequenced year by year, but viewed in the exact month in which they occurred

The show is made by VFS Films, a long-time partner of Latvian Television and it is hosted by Mārtiņš Ķibilds, a distinguished cultural journalist who sadly passed away late last year.

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