Shocking Film News from Latvia

”National Film Centre of Latvia is under the threat of reorganization” was the headline of this morning’s daily news from ”Film New Europe”, continued by these lines: ” The financial crisis in Latvia has triggered a chain of reorganization of cultural institutions that threatens the existence of the National Film Centre of Latvia (NFC) as an independent establishment.” So not only has the budget for support for films in 2009 been cut 44% compared to 2008, but an eventual cut-away of the Film Centre to be reduced to an office in the Ministry of Culture is of course a severe perspective of catastrophy.

As one who has followed the Latvian film since the independence, I can only admire the work done by committed and clever people in and around the Film Centre. A well functioning, independent film institutional structure has been established, that serves the many fine film directors and producers from a country that especially in the documentary sector has long and proud traditions.

Anyone can understand that cuts are needed in times of financial crisis, but to destroy an independent structure that represents a country with such competence is political narrow-minded thinking. And if this reorganisation becomes a reality, the consequence will be that the EU-supported Baltic Sea Forum, that takes place in Riga for the 13th time in 3 weeks will cease to exist. At this forum Latvian producers, among others, come to find funding for their film projects. Protests have arrived from neighbouring countries, from Austria, from Slovenia, and more will come, I am sure. The Latvian filmmakers protest outside the Ministry of Culture. Allow me to send many warm thoughts to Latvian film friends. A fight for independence is going on.

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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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