There has been quite a film party going on in the Latvian capital. Not only has the city, as Cultural Capital of Europe, hosted the EFA Awards – films have been shown at the Riga International Film Festival that ran from December 2-12, masterclasses and panel debates have been going on at the new National Library and awards have been distributed, among them the National Film Prizes, which – to my great joy – includes a number of awards for documentaries. My source is Film New Europe, link below for a list of all awards:
Best full-length documentary award went to Peteris Krilovs personal ”Obliging Collaborators” (photo), a personal historical film that as a motivation point has the death of the director’s father due to ”the KGB repressions, which is closely linked to the devious game Soviet Latvia’s KGB played against Swedish-British-American spy agencies”. Original in narration, the films uses clay animation. To be a bit patriotic, the editor of the film is Danish Julie Vinten, with whom Krilovs also worked on the film on Klucis.
Best Documentary Film 60 minutes was Davis Simanis ”Chronicles of the Last Temple”, that has been praised on this site: ”a superb interpretation of the new and much discussed National Library of Riga, a film that shows Simanis ability to capture the grandeur of a building and its details in a super aesthetic form.”
Best Documentary Film Director was Viesturs Kairiss ”Pelican in the Desert” and Best Documentary Film DOP Gints Berzins for the same work. I have written long about this fine film, here is a quote from the end of the article: ” The film has…No message but experience and a hymn to spirituality, sometimes solemn, always letting the dignity of the people come forward whatever mad or weird they might appear. Kairiss did not go there to inform, he went there to experience. He was impressed, he saw an operalike drama or an elegy, if you like. He dwelled like another Visconti on the decadence of the decline. He went with his superb cameraman Berzins to convey this inspiration in an observational, expressionistic film language of super-aesthetic sequences.”
And then to the more formal and institutional European Film Award (EFA) ceremony, that was held at the Latvian National Opera Saturday the 13th. On FaceBook producer Guntis Trekteris posted a photo from the Opera: ” EFA pre-ceremony opens with Ten Minutes Older”, of course it did, one more well deserved tribute to Herz Frank and Juris Podnieks, two late masters of the rich Latvian documentary history, and the two behind the film that was my number one on the Sight & Sound documentary top ten early this year. 10 days before the glamour, at the opening of the Riga International Film Festival, “Beyond the Fear” by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko had its premiere.
Back to EFA: Marc Bauder’s ”Master of the Universe” was voted the best European Documentary in competition with Jon Bang Carlsen’s personal narratively wild ”Just the Right Amount of Violence”, Laurent Bécue-Renard’s idfa-winner, impressive ”Of Men and War”, Gianfranco Rosi’s Venezia-winner for me disappointing ”Sacro Ga” and two I have not seen yet: Teodora Ana Mihai’s ”Waiting for August” and Hubert Sauper’s ”We Come as Friends”.
Last but not least, a Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Agnès Varda. No objection at all!