Latvian Nat. Film Prizes: Lielais Kristaps

Sunday is the ceremony, where Latvian film is to be praised in all categories you can think of, also for camera, sound, editing etc. and what is attributed to fiction filmmaking. I have a heart for Latvian documentaries so I limit myself to mention the five nominated in the section “long documentary”. I have seen three of them. They are:

Bach against Covid / Bahs pret Covid (Latvia)Directed by Ivars Zviedris

The director is – for me – a true documentarian (btw. the title of one of his films) and it is no surprise that he makes this film, as Baltic Sea Docs manager, critic Zane Balcus wrote to me: Ivars Zviedris manages to capture current issues in society – be it political, economic, or social processes or shifts… Here he has filmed during the Covid period documenting visual facets of lockdown and its imprint on the life of the film’s protagonist – the cello musician Normunds who plays his instrument for the tourists in Riga Old Town…

Hecuba’s Question / Hekabes jautājums (Latvia) Directed by Pēteris Krilovs, Iveta Budreviča

Krilovs… have followed his many films, and his “Klucis. Deconstruction of an Artist” is for me a masterpiece in storytelling. This one Zane Balcus gives these words: ”This film Krilovs has directed together with Iveta Budreviča, close friend of the film’s main protagonists. Through associative representation of a dream told by Krilovs at the start of the film, the directors draw us into the world of the musician Rolands Ūdrītis, who after the tragic accident a few years back has not recovered, and his wife Ilona Balode. We are asked to imagine and then follow how their life goes on and what strength is needed to endure and keep up the hope.”

My Mother the State (Latvia, Iceland)Directed by Ieva Ozoliņa

Fascinating universal story, straight forward and emotional, about looking for a sister and finding out that you have not only one but four sisters “scattered all over the world”. It’s an incredible story and the protagonist is one, who never gives up in her search for family and herself.

Before the Light / Svārstības (Latvia) Directed by Kristīne Briede

Kristine Briede made the magnificent “Bridges of Time” with Audrius Stonys, she is one of the most knowledgeable I know from the Latvian documentary scene but what I did not know, but now saw, she is also one who points in fine cinematographic language at an incredible story from nowadays Latvia – as it is written in an introduction of a review in the magazine Kino Raksti: Would it be normal for us if women were allowed to work as doctors or teachers only under the supervision of men? Why then is this considered normal within the Lutheran Church and in the work of a pastor?.. The personal service stories of three women – Dace Balodes, Rudīte Losāne and Agrita Staško – are being unfolded.

The Land / Zemnieki (Latvia) Directed by Ivars Seleckis

Ivars, my hero, my friend, known him for more than 30 years, I am biased, here is what IDFA wrote when it was shown there last year: In The Land, Ivars Seleckis’s measured, observational images capture the cycle of the seasons in a rural community in Latvia. Fifty years ago Seleckis shot another film in the same region: The Corn-Bins (1973), which documented a major shift in the country’s agriculture. The upscaling of farming had already been started under Stalin—because groups were easier to control than individuals—and these huge farming concerns ushered in the collapse of traditional agriculture… how is it today, Ivars goes back to meet the farmers of today. 

Still: “Bach against Covid”, the cello musician Normunds. 

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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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