Several film festivals ended at the weekend, bringing Latvian film professionals a significant range of awards - Viestur Kairish and the feature film January received four important awards in Rome and Warsaw, Linda Olte's debut film Sisters won two awards at the Warsaw IFF, and the short film co-produced by the Atom Art studio Misaligned was recognized the best animated film at the DOK Leipzig festival.
Dita Rietuma, head of the National Film Center of Latvia, summarizes: "If we remember the recent nomination of the European Film Academy for Signe Baumane's film My Love Affair with Marriage, then after this weekend we can safely say that Latvian cinema has never received so many prestigious and important awards in such a short period of time. Extreme joy both for the classicist Viestur Kairish, whose film January has been on the intense festival scene since its world premiere, and for the debutant Linda Olte, who has announced herself as a socially astute and nuanced director. And the greatest satisfaction is that these world-recognized films are simultaneously available to Latvian cinemagoers - My Love Affair with Marriage and Sisters are currently in the repertoire of Latvian cinemas, we are waiting for January in November, as the national holidays are approaching."
From October 13 to 23, the Rome International Film Festival Festa del Cinema di Roma was held in Rome, in the main competition Concorso progressive cinema among 16 films from France, Spain, USA, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Viestur Kairish's new feature film January was also selected; the film tells about the feelings of a young man in Latvia, during the barricades in January 1991. At the closing ceremony, the international jury awarded January with the three most important awards of the festival – best film, best director (Viestur Kairish), best actor (Vitorio Gassman award to Kārlis Arnolds Avots). The main jury of the festival, which consisted of five European film professionals, acknowledged in its justification of the award: "We were unanimous about the film Janvāris - it is a beautiful, personal story of growing up against the background of a troubled era. The performances of the actors are excellent, the fragility of the film's characters, despite the brutality of the situation, touched us all. The film is a beautiful tribute to cinema and freedom; unfortunately, the story is still relevant, because we see similar events in the world today." (List of festival laureates and jury – https://www.romacinemafest.it/en/winners-2022/ )
The Rome festival was held this year for the 17th time, its main competition Progressive Cinema is designed with the aim of searching for new authors and new filmmaking principles, keeping in mind the motto Today's vision for tomorrow's world. After receiving the award at the press conference in Rome, director Viestur Kairish told media representatives that January is his most personal film and he knows the characters of the film well, so it is a great pleasure that the film is highlighted in two European film forums at the same time. The director also urged to remember that cinematography has power and called on Europeans to believe in the Baltics and not to form any ties with Putin's Russia. The film January in Rome also attracted wide media interest. "The historical context of the film is far from intrusive, as the aim of Viestur Kairish is not to reconstruct the events, but to show the consequences they caused in the hearts and minds of people," wrote Cinematographe.
On Saturday, October 22, the closing ceremony also took place at the Warsaw International Film Festival, where the film January was included in the Main Competition program as a European premiere. The Jury Award for the best direction was awarded to the director Viestur Kairish, the award was received in person by the Polish co-producers of the film (January is a co-production of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland). (Laureate lists and juries of the Warsaw Festival - https://wff.pl/en/news/winners_2022)
Also at the Warsaw Film Festival, in the competition Competition 1-2, which evaluates the director's first and second films, director Linda Olte's debut feature film, the Latvian and Italian co-production Sisters, was selected as the best film of this competition and also received the international film critics association FIPRESCI award as the best Eastern European debut. The director Linda Olte has already brought the awards to Riga and showed them both to her actresses and to the audience at the special screening of the Kino Bize cinema. "In a few days, I have experienced both the international premiere in Warsaw and the national premiere at the Riga IFF festival, the excitement has been great and there is very little time to think about it all, it is such a whirlwind of emotions. I am honored for the first international recognition of my debut project, and at the moment the film is already with audiences all over Latvia, the film team and I participate in special screenings and hear very warm words - it is the greatest award a director can receive. I believe that the international success at the Warsaw Film Festival will open even more doors for my work, and everywhere Sisters travel , the film will shed light on the very important topic of "children of the system".
Matīss Kaža, the producer of the film Sisters, admits: "Receiving an award at a class A festival is a major international success for the entire creative team and for Linda Olte, for whom this is her debut work as a feature film director. The jury appreciated the film's emotional script and the director's responsible approach to the theme and characters, including the believable acting. Sisters is also my first work as the main producer of another director's feature film – an international project that was the first co-production between Latvia and Italy with the support of Eurimages over the course of three years. The film will continue to travel to festivals in Europe and other parts of the world - in the near future you will be able to watch Sisters at festivals In London, New York, Lübeck, Tallinn, later also in other places. But most of all, of course, we are waiting for viewers in domestic cinemas - come now, because the film is on screens all over Latvia!"
The Latvian premiere of the film January is scheduled for November 11, the film will start showing all over Latvia on this date, and tickets can already be purchased for both the premiere screenings and special screenings throughout Latvia. Already on November 18, the film will be shown in the official program of the Tallinn film festival Black Nights, on November 19 – at the Lithuanian film festival Scanorama, in October and November, January also participates in the Baltic Film Days in Oslo, the Ankara Film Festival (Turkey) and the Nordic Film Days in Lübeck, Germany.
The third film that won recognition in Europe this weekend is the Latvian-Polish co-produced short film Misaligned - auteur animated film for adults by the Polish director Marta Magnuska, which was made in cooperation between one of the most active Polish studios Animoon and the internationally known Latvian studio Atom Art, the creative co-authors on the Latvian side of the project are animators Mārtiņš Dūmiņš and Kristīne Zvirbule, producer Sabīne Andersone. Misaligned was recognized as the best animated film in Germany at the documentary and animation festival DOK Leipzig, and with this victory it qualifies for next year's competition for the nomination of the best short film for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar Award, but it had its Latvian premiere last week, at the Riga IFF International short film competition. (List of DOK Leipzig awards - https://www.dok-leipzig.de/en/news/two-feature-length-debut-films-winning-golden-doves .)