Documentaries Series Fiction Grants ERDF
Youth Eternal

The National Film Centre of Latvia has announced the nine new projects developed with the support of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). In detail, these are broken down into four drama series, four fiction features and one documentary feature – all set to hit screens from 2024 onwards.

The projects received financing through a separate call published by the film centre in 2022. The funding is part of the ERDF’s REACT-EU financial tool and of project number, intended to stimulate the growth of Latvian outfits by promoting the work of the country’s film producers, mitigating the consequences of the pandemic and preserving job opportunities.

The first project is the series Boarding House at the Manor, slated for theatrical and online release in January 2024. Staged by Mistrus Media and based on the popular novel by Anšlavs Eglītis, it follows writer Viktors Eglītis (Gundars Āboliņš), who was awarded the Inciems manor for his artistic contributions by Latvia’s government. It also zooms in on his sons Anšlavs and Vidvuds (Rihards Zelezņevs and Kristians Teterovskis), and the many guests and residents visiting the manor. The supporting roles are played by Kaspars Znotiņš, Juris Strenga, Lāsma Kugrēna, Dace Eversa, Guna Zariņa, Vilis Daudziņš, Ivars Kalniņš and Olga Dreģe, among others.

Early next year, audiences will also enjoy the eight-episode series Soviet Jeans, produced by Tasse Film, directed by Stanislavs Tokalovs and Juris Kursietis, and starring Kārlis Arnolds Avots in the leading role. “Rock’n’roll and jeans are stronger than the entire Red Army,” reads the film’s logline. The dramedy, which is “intriguing and unbelievable, yet based on real events”, is set in 1979 and focuses on the patients of a psychiatric hospital. They set up an illegal jeans factory, which the authorities unsuccessfully tried to shut down. Two other main roles are portrayed by Igors Šelegovskis and Finland’s Aamu Milonoff, with Ivars Krasts, Jānis Jarāns, Gints Grāvelis, Valentīns Novopolskis and Andris Keišs rounding off the ensemble.

In the Cinevilla Films-produced series Mutiny, director Andrejs Ēķis, screenwriter Ivo Briedis and leading actor Dainis Grūbe tell a story based on historical events. In 1975, an attempted mutiny takes place on a Soviet warship, instigated by the naïve idealist Špagins (Grūbe). The show depicts the darkest moments of the “Era of Stagnation” during the Brezhnev period, life in a communal apartment in Riga, the permissiveness of the Soviet nomenklatura both in the military system and outside of it, as well as the passionate struggle for human rights and freedom. The main cast includes Gatis Gāga, Inga Tropa, Elīna Hanzena, Lauris Dzelzītis, Andris Keišs, Egons Dombrovskis, Agnese Budovska, Kaspars Zāle, Jēkabs Reinis and Ritvars Logins.

The last series being backed is The Assistant, slated for release in autumn 2024. The four-episode show, helmed by Liene Linde and Alise Zariņa, is being produced by Guntis Trekteris for Ego Media. The main character is an idealistic social worker called Laila (nicknamed Lulu and played by Elizabete Skrastiņa). In each episode, the young woman deals with the issues of vulnerable parts of society. The other main characters include Laila’s energetic mother (Baiba Broka), her sarcastic grandmother (Silvija Bitere) and her father (Kaspars Gods).

The only documentary feature being supported by the centre is Ivars Seleckis and Armands Začs’ Coming of Age, produced by Gints Grūbe and Elīna Gediņa-Ducena for Mistrus Media. The picture revisits the five schoolgoing protagonists of the 2018 centenary film To Be Continued, now eighth-graders living in different regions of the country.

Next, the first fiction feature backed by the fund is BOOM!, produced by Uģis Riekstiņš and Elīna Jozauska for Picture House, with Marta Selecka and Andra Doršs at the helm. It’s the end of summer in Liepāja, and Toms and Hugo (Dāvis Ozols and Lūkass Pāvils Kalniņš) wish to surprise their classmates with their skating skills. As a result of a sudden accident, Hugo gets superpowers, an event that puts the pair’s friendship to the test. The film will be released next autumn.

Meanwhile, Armands Začs is also involved in another project, the fiction feature Youth Eternal. Produced by White Picture, the story revolves around a group of friends who are stuck in their youth and self-destructively refuse to grow up and take on responsibilities. The leads are played by Jana Herbsta, Emīls Ralfs Zagorskis, Sabīne Tīkmane, Elza Gauja, Antons Barons, Rihards Sniegs and Kārlis Zahovskis.

The third project is the period sports drama Escape Net. The action unfolds in the 1950s against the backdrop of the Cold War and follows Dzidra Uztupe-Karamiševa, the first captain of the legendary women’s basketball team TTT. Behind the camera is the team from the Latvian hit Blizzard of Souls (2019) – namely, director Dzintars Dreibergs, DoP Valdis Celminņš, composer Lolita Ritmanis and producer Inga Praņevska.

Finally, the fourth fiction feature is Raitis and Lauris Ābele’s Dog of God. Set in 17th-century Latvia and created using the rotoscoping technique, this “adult fairy tale” is based on a court case that took place in Zaube in 1692 and is deeply rooted in the legends of Livonian werewolves.

The nine projects will be released in theatres and digitally, and are set to air on TV at a later stage.

React EU – The project is funded as part of the Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

React EU – The project is funded as part of the Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic