There is a street in Riga. A quite extraordinary street inhabited by ordinary people like you and me. I know them very well. Through films, of course. Actually I have known them for more than 20 years. Skersiela is the Latvian name for the street. Crossroad Street it is called in English. Grand old man in Latvian documentary film, Ivars Seleckis, and his script writer Talivaldis Margevics, who lives in the street, have made it and its inhabitants world famous. In 1988 they made the first film, in the late 90’es they made number two, titled ”New Times at Crossroad Street” and now they seek funding to make ”Capitalism at Crossroad Street”. Seleckis and Margevics pitched the project at the Baltic Sea Forum in Riga with a wonderful teaser that demonstrated that the old master had not lost his human and humourous observational touch for magical moments. The clip introduced one of the characters, Oris, who ten years ago lived with his mother, who died but lies at the cemetery where ”there is also a place waiting for me”. A little group of Forum guests went to the street, took a walk around, saw the house of the gypsy on the corner and the unifinished tower house of Alvis, who wants to build high so he can see the centre of Riga. Never mind that he through that will shadow for the house of Daiga, one of the darlings of the first films! The generous sightseeing ended at Margevics place with vodka and salted cucumbers and small snacks on the wonderful black bread of Latvia.
Seleckis and his wife Maya, editor of most of her husband’s films, as well as editor for Juris Podnieks and Herz Frank, published last year a book, ”100 Yeras of Film” – referring to their being in the film business, each of them, for 50 years. I cant read the Latvian language book but the illustrations of loads of masterpieces confirm to me that Latvia was the documentary capital in the USSR… and with a lot lower volume due to crisis, still has a strong role to play today in this genre. The first of the films can be watched online – see below.