Antra Gaile from Mistrus Media in Riga asked me if I wanted to see and eventually comment on an almost final cut of the new film by Latvian master of documentary Ivars Seleckis, whose work I know so well and have appreciated since I started to visit the country around 25 years ago. The film, the first one about children from the hands of the director, will have its national premiere in the beginning of next year as part of the celebration of 100 years of Latvia. Of course I said yes and wrote this letter to the director:
Dear Ivars, dear friend, dear master.
I have seen your film. I love it. As FILM and as one who has the age of a grandfather and very often are blessed with visits from
kids at the same age as those in your film: 2 are 6 years old and have just started in school, 2 are 4 years old.
Children are children, wherever they are and I could recognise
so many ways of behaviour, so many reactions, facial expressions, clever reflections and thoughts about the world we live in. As you say in the beginning of the film: May they live in peaceful times…
And I could see that the Latvian school system is different from
the Danish. More classical, more based on marks and competition.
BUT the great thing – one of them – is that you succeed to bring out
the personalities of the kids: Karlis is a real Boy, Gleb revolts to
his parents, indeed he does, Zane is a darling, so is Anette whose
mother works abroad (good you have that aspect in the film!) and Anastasia is the star, the one who stands out for me (and you, Ivars) with her phantasy, her living in the countryside with horses helping mum. Antra sent me the photo for this article.
Yes, the countryside, it comes as no surprise to me that the countryside is so present in the film, I know your love to your country and its beautiful sceneries. I am still grateful to you that you many years ago took me and my wife on a tour to places you were proud to show to us. We ended up in the Crosroad Street that you made three films about. To enjoy horseraddish, herring and dark Latvian bread.
The film IS full of love and warmth, and I think the editing works fine, considering how difficult it is to have 5 main characters.
I could have loved one or two more of the scenes, where YOU ask questions to the kids. The ones with Anastasia are sooo good as is the one with Karlis (was it him?) and one of the girls who wants to become a cosmetologist.
Congratulations! I wish you and Mistrus Media all the best with this wonderful hommage to your country and the kids, who are to grow up and hopefully have a decent life.