A new film project by veteran documentary director and cinematographer Ivars Seleckis will be presented at the 24th edition of Baltic Sea Docs that starts on the 29th of August. The brief description goes like this: ”The documentary “The Land” will reveal the countryside of the 21st century through the individual and personal stories of the five protagonists living in the Latvian countryside and farming their land.” Producer is Gints Grube, Mistrus Media, who also stood behind Seleckis last big success ”To be Continued”.
”Ivars Seleckis began his career the same way many film people do – from the ‘bottom’. Though he had university education, he spent months lugging ‘boxes’ and the heavy film camera around the Riga Film Studio until he was allowed to switch it on. The first scenes he shot that appeared on film were in 1960 – in the documentary, “My Riga” – a film that became the first timid step away from the official propaganda and towards a more humanly intimate poetics. (source: http://nkc.gov.lv/en/uncategorized/ivars-seleckis-2/)”.
Since then, as cinematographer and later on as director, Seleckis name has
appeared on numerous (an understatement!) documentaries during the time of Soviet Latvia and when his beloved country gained its independence. More than anyone the 85 year old Seleckis has documented the landscapes and trades of Latvia – through his eye for people. Of course he is one of the masters in ”Bridges of Time” by Kristine Briede and Audrius Stonys, the wonderful film on the Baltic poetic cinema. And of course he was one of the cameramen in the film ”235.000.000” from 1967, the unique documentary by Uldis Brauns. The film was censored by the Soviet regime – the original director’s cut has been found and a digital restored version is being made. Right Uldis Cekulis and Zane Balcus?
Ivars Seleckis trilogy from Šķērsiela street in Riga has been shown all over the world. The first one is from 1988, ”Crossroad Street”, the second called “New times at Crossroad Street” came out in 1999, and the third one, ”Capitalism at Crossroad Street” is from 2013. A sociological study it is, lovely portraits of lives of those who live in the street – as did (does?) the scriptwriter Tālivaldis Margēvičs.
Way back Ivars Seleckis and his colleague Piepers took me and my wife on a tour to the countryside of Latvia. We drank champagne at a river and visited ”horseradish Peter” and his wife in one of the gardens of Šķērsiela. Seleckis brought along smoked fish and brandy. The couple was very important in the first part of the trilogy.
2019: A key person from the Latvian Film Centre, Lelda Ozola, has helped Ivars Seleckis through his carreer, so it was only natural that she accompanied him to ZagrebDOX in 2019, where ”To Be Continued” was shown and where festival director Nenad Puhovski gave his ”My Generation” award to the Latvian master. Another piece of memory: When in Zagreb I had to watch a football match with FC Barcelona. Lelda and Ivars joined me. The documentary skills of the latter were demonstrated from start till end of the match. Ivars knew actually very little about football but during the 90 minutes he commented and discovered the rules and tactics of the game, sitting or going close to the tv screen pointing and asking. Curiosity, without that, forget about being a documentarian!
A brilliant filmmaker, a man full of humour, always with a small bottle in his pocket – looking fwd to seeing him again in Riga!