A Riga Meeting with Ivars Seleckis

Riga. The day after the Baltic Sea Docs, Edition 19. Producer Uldis Cekulis is developing a film project initiated by Kristine Briede. Theme: The poetic tradition in the Baltic cinema. They have been so kind to involve me in the research, which has given me the opportunity last year to meet Estonian master Mark Soosaar on his island in Estonia and legendary director Uldis Brauns, who lives in the countryside in Latvia. Brauns is the man behind ”235.000.000”, the classic masterpiece in Latvian and world documentary history. That the made together with Herz Frank in 1967.

And now Ivars Seleckis, 81 years old, fresh in head and legs, as always shooting a film, if anyone the Latvian documentarian, who has described people and culture and places and history of his motherland, and who has taken a place in world documentary with his trilogy from Skersiela, a street in Riga – three films: ”Crossroad Street” (1988), ”New Times at Crossroad Street” (1999) and ”Capitalism at Crossroad Street” (2012). As you can see from the photo (director Kristine Briede to the left doing sound and translation)

we went to the harbour area and had a nice time on board a ship that sails no longer and is now turned into offices – and flats! In this area Seleckis, director and cameraman, a classical documentarian, who called ”reenactment” ”disgusting”, when I asked him, has made several films. My relationship with Seleckis goes back to 10 years (1990-2000) of Balticum Film & TV Festival on the island of Bornholm in Denmark. He was there almost every year with a new film.

We spent a nice long afternoon together on the ship and in the Miera district of Riga – Miera means Peace, the district is full of nice cafés, old and new houses, shops – has been called the Hipster Capital of Riga! Seleckis talked about how he started his filmmaking, how the poetic documentary cinema was born, the absurd relationship to the authorities in Moscow during Soviet times, his concern about the privatisation of the Riga Film Studios. A man in good mood and a man who demonstrated that he is a specialist in Latvian food and drinks.

Photo taken by Uldis Cekulis, the man behind the fine excursion, a producer who has always a lot of interesting projects on his plate, a father of two small kids, super-active and generous. You can see how he looks like in the post below.

PS. At the hotel in last night my wife and I watched the Riga part of the arte series on food markets, directed by Uldis Cekulis and the man behind the series, Italian Stefano Tealdi from Stefilm in Turin. It was a fine, in terms of cinematography beautifully executed work with visits to the homes and working places of (as an example) the producers of the wonderful bread that we have carried home each year from Riga for 20 years now! The market in Riga is indeed a must for all visitors! We saw an English voiced version of the tv-documentary and although we – as Danes grown up in a different culture with subtitles where you can hear the original language – I have to say that the visual professionalism of the formatted one-hour programme was excellent, and we enjoyed to hear beautiful English spoken! 

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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