77th Cannes
© Shochiku Co., Ltd. – Rhapsody in August by Akira Kurosawa (1991) / Graphic creation © Hartland Villa

The renowned Cannes Film Festival kicks off in France on Tuesday, 14 May, running until 25 May, and this year holds special significance for Latvia. Director Gints Zilbalodis’ full-length animated film Flow / Straume has secured a coveted spot in the competition programme Un certain regard. Additionally, several other Latvian film professionals are actively engaged in various industry events, film market, and programmes.

Celebrating its 77th edition, the Cannes Film Festival has brought exciting news for Latvia. Gints Zilbalodis’ film Flow is one of only 18 selected from around the globe to compete in the prestigious Un certain regard programme, overcoming stiff competition. Animated films rarely grace the main stage at Cannes, making this inclusion particularly noteworthy.

Dita Rietuma, head of the National Film Centre of Latvia, remarked, "Earning a place in the Cannes Festival competition amidst thousands of submissions is a significant achievement for Latvian filmmakers. This feat is even more remarkable as animated films are a rarity at Cannes. Notably, in 2010, Jurģis Krāsons' animated short film To Swallow a Toad (Norīt krupi) was featured in the short film competition, underscoring the strength of Latvian animation. With Latvia's representation in the Un certain regard competition, we are revisiting this programme's success, following Laila Pakalniņa's triumph in the 1990s. I extend my best wishes to the film Flow, crafted by Gints Zilbalodis and produced by Matīss Kaža, for a harmonious flow towards global recognition, and perhaps even acclaim at Cannes."

The Un certain regard programme spotlights films by emerging and promising auteurs, showcasing valuable artistic discoveries. This year, the jury president is the vibrant "Canadian prodigy" Xavier Dolan (1989). Overseeing the main Cannes Jury is director Greta Gerwig, known for her popular film Barbie (2023). The festival's poster, traditionally designed by Hartland Villa, draws inspiration from a scene in the legendary director Akira Kurosawa's film Rhapsody in August (1991).

Flow will have its world premiere at Cannes on 22 May, with additional screenings scheduled for 23 May and two showings at the Marché du Film (14-22 May). The Cannes Film Market serves as a focal point for Latvian film professionals, with the National Film Centre of Latvia (NFC), the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA), and the Latvian Film Producers Association collaborating to operate the Latvian pavilion. Additionally, Rija production company will present films from various Latvian studios at a separate stand, offering them for distribution.

Dāvis Sīmanis' feature film Maria’s Silence / Marijas klusums, produced by Mistrus Media studio, will screen at the Marché du Film's market screening for industry professionals, film distributors, and festival programmers, continuing its international journey after receiving an award at the Berlin Film Festival in February.

Furthermore, Dog of God / Dieva suns, a film by directors Lauris Ābele and Raitis Ābele, has garnered attention at the Cannes Film Market and is featured in the industry event programme Fantastic 7, an initiative founded five years ago. This program comprises fantasy genre projects or recently completed films recommended by seven A-class festivals. Supported by the NFC and the European Foundation ERDF, the film, created using experimental rotoscoping techniques, is endorsed by the Tallinn Festival Black Nights as an "exciting Latvian project" and a visually captivating "gem of the genre from the Baltic countries". The presentation of the Fantastic 7 programme is scheduled for 19 May at 12 p.m. at the Cannes Palais des Festivals.

Representatives from Latvia and other Baltic countries, united under the Baltic Shorts cooperation network, are actively engaged in the Short Film Corner / Rendez-vous Industry section of the Cannes Film Market. Emīls Alps, a young Latvian producer leading Neonorma studio, has been selected as one of ten participants in the New Producers Room initiative. Alps will present the upcoming short film Thank You for Your Review / Paldies par jūsu atsauksmi, by directors Līva Polkmane and Marta Šleiere, alongside other authors at Cannes.

Latvian film producers, NFC representatives, and the Riga International Film Festival (Riga IFF) team, along with Baltic Shorts participants, will be actively involved in various events at the Cannes Film Festival. Minister of Culture Agnese Logina will attend the world premiere of Zilbalodis' film Flow.

The NFC, in collaboration with the Latvian Animation Association, has developed the latest catalogue of Latvian animation authors and studios specifically for the Cannes Film Market and the Latvian pavilion. It can be found in the publications section of the NFC website HERE. Additionally, an informative publication detailing the Latvian film industry, studios, and producers has been recently updated and is also available HERE.