Series Industry Film Markets Festivals
Baltic Stand
Baltic Stand at the EFM, Gropius Bau

Two noteworthy entries from Latvia are set to shine at the 74th Berlin International Film Festival, commencing on February 15, 2024. Maria’s Silence, directed by Dāvis Sīmanis, and the miniseries Soviet Jeans, helmed by Staņislavs Tokalovs and Juris Kursietis, will take the spotlight. Additionally, Latvia will have representation at the European Film Market.

The Berlin Film Festival, running from February 15 to February 25, stands tall as one of the globe's premier A-class film festivals, alongside Cannes and Venice. It boasts rich traditions and is highly esteemed in the cinematic world. The festival meticulously curates its programme from thousands of submissions, making the inclusion of a Latvian film in a main section a significant achievement. Films showcased in the Forum section, including Maria's Silence (Marijas klusums) by Dāvis Sīmanis, underscore cinema's socio-artistic significance, prioritizing works with profound messages and aesthetic excellence.

Maria's Silence, a historical drama, delves into the dramatic life of Marija Leiko (1887-1938), a revered theatre and film actress who worked in Europe. The narrative unfolds during her later years as she embarks on a journey from Germany to the Soviet Union to care for her granddaughter. There, she bears witness to and becomes a victim of Stalin's atrocities against Latvians. Co-produced by Mistrus Media (Latvia) and Broom Films (Lithuania), the film is supported by the National Film Centre of Latvia (NFCL), the Lithuanian Film Centre, the State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia, Latvian Television, and the European Union programme Creative Europe MEDIA. The world premiere of Maria’s Silence is slated for February 18 at 7 p.m. at Arsenal Cinema 1 in Berlin, with a Latvian theatrical release scheduled for April 4.

Concurrently, the European Film Market, a pivotal forum in European cinema, runs from February 15 to February 21. This year marks the 10th anniversary of its Berlinale Series Market, showcasing 15 promising series from around the globe (Argentina, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, United Kingdom, etc.) with significant international potential. Latvia is proudly represented by Soviet Jeans (Padomju džinsi), a miniseries produced by Tasse Films and supported by the National Film Centre of Latvia and ERDF funding. This eight-episode narrative, depicting an illegal jeans factory in a Latvian psychiatric hospital during the 1970s, recently earned the National Film Award Lielais Kristaps for Best TV Series, along with accolades for Best Screenplay. Kārlis Arnolds Avots was honoured as Best Actor in a Leading Role. Soviet Jeans will premiere nationally on February 26, followed by screenings in Latvian cinemas from March 1.

As part of the European Film Market, Latvian film screenings are scheduled for potential distributors, festival curators, representatives of streaming platforms, and TV channels. In addition to Maria’s Silence and Soviet Jeans, the full-length animated film Thelma's Perfect Birthday (Telmas burvīgā dzimšanas diena), a Latvian-Luxembourg co-production by studio Rija, will be showcased.

The Latvian stand, staffed by representatives of the NFCL and the Latvian Film Producers’ Association, will be located next to the Lithuanian and Estonian stands at the main venue of the film market, Gropius Bau. The NFCL has prepared a statistical publication titled Facts & Figures, featuring data from all three Baltic countries, available for use at the stand and online. Additionally, the three Baltic countries have collaborated on an eye-catching magazine titled Baltic Film, highlighting relevant processes and phenomena within each film industry. Latvia's contributions to the magazine include an interview with director Dāvis Sīmanis conducted by Sonora Broka, articles about the miniseries Soviet Jeans, and eight other films produced in Latvia with the support of ERDF funding. Two promising upcoming film projects, Impressions (Nospiedumi) directed by Alise Zariņa and Blue Blood (Zilās asinis) directed by Juris Kursietis, are also featured. Additionally, the magazine contains information about the Baltic Sea Documentary Film Forum and international project co-financing opportunities in Latvia.

Latvia is also represented in the Berlinale juries, with producer Marta Romanova-Jēkabsone serving on the Ecumenical Jury, which evaluates films in the main competitions, and film critic Dārta Ceriņa included in the FIPRESCI Jury, responsible for evaluating films in the Encounters section.

A significant number of Latvian film professionals will participate in the Berlin International Film Festival and European Film Market. Minister of Culture of Latvia, Agnese Logina, will also attend to partake in the world premiere of Maria’s Silence and visit the European Film Market. Furthermore, she will attend Latvia's reception on February 19 at the historic theatre Volksbühne Berlin, where actress Marija Leiko performed in the 1930s.

Margarita Rimkus

Senior Officer
margarita.rimkus [at]