For the fourteenth time Latvia has entered a film for the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar Awards nomination consideration in the Best International Feature Film category. The panel of experts selected by the National Film Centre (NFC) voted in agreement on director Dace Pūce’s feature The Pit.
Entries from Latvian studios were evaluated by a panel of experts selected by the National Film Centre – Ieva Romanova, Chair of the Latvian Filmmakers Union, Zane Balčus, film theoretician and project manager of the Baltic Sea Docs, Dzintars Dreibergs, director of the last year’s Academy Awards entry Blizzard of Souls, Uldis Cekulis, producer, Kristīne Simsone, film critic and journalist, Dace Vilsone, State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and member of the Film Board, and Dita Rietuma, film historian and head of the National Film Centre.
The panel of experts evaluated three full-length feature films – the same three that were nominated this year for the National Film Awards Lielais Kristaps as the best feature films of the year - The Pit directed by Dace Pūce, The Year Before the War directed by Dāvis Sīmanis, and In the Mirror directed by Laila Pakalniņa. Meeting virtually, the panel of experts weighed in on the films’ potentials, evaluating their different qualities, including the boldly unconventional and radical fairy tale interpretation In the Mirror by Laila Pakalniņa, and Dāvis Sīmanis’ cinematic handwriting and development of film language in the visually tight, richly textured, and stylistically compact The Year Before the War.
Having considered all pros and cons, the panel agreed that Latvia’s entry for the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar awards nomination in the Best International Feature Film category will be The Pit directed by Dace Pūce - a clearly told, realistic and human story with a precise description of small-town life and thorough acting. In addition, this film is a convincing director's debut that has already garnered success abroad, showing its international convertibility and potential to be understood outside the local audience. The world premiere of The Pit took place at the Lübeck Film Festival in Germany a year ago, where it received the Grand Prix, followed by the Best Film Award at the Baltic Debuts Festival in Russia; during the year, The Pit was selected for several more prestigious international film festivals. It has received eight National Film Awards Lielais Kristaps nominations, including for the best feature film director, screenplay, cinematography and music, and three of the film’s actors have also been nominated for the awards.
Also, this year, the entry and nomination process for the Academy Awards has been slightly delayed due to the current emergency situation – the awards ceremony that usually takes place at the end of February will now take place on 27 March, 2022. Countries must enter their national submissions until 1 November, 2021. The short-list of 15 contenders will be announced on 21 December, and the five nominated films will be announced on 8 February.
Our neighbouring countries have already announced their Academy Awards entries. The Lithuanian choice is especially significant for Latvia, since it is the Lithuanian-Latvian-French co-production, the documentary Jump that has already been exhibited in Latvia, the Latvian co-producer is Uldis Cekulis, VFS Films.