The National Film Centre of Latvia announces the programme of its traditional Latvian Film Marathon on May 4. After a two-year break it returns to the cinema Splendid Palace in eight live screenings with some surprise appearances and events. As part of the marathon, films will be screened in the neighbourhoods of Riga and available all over the world on the portal filmas.lv
The May 4 Latvian Film Marathon returns to the cinema Splendid Palace this year with free live screenings in the two auditoriums and open-air venues. Invitations to cinema screenings will be available from April 27 at the Splendid Palace box office or can be registered electronically on the cinema’s website HERE. In the cinema, films will be screened with subtitles in English, therefore guests of Riga are most welcome to the celebration.
The programme of the Latvian Film Marathon will start in the big auditorium at 1 p.m. with a tribute to director Rolands Kalniņš (1922) – the Latvian cinema classic turns 100 in May, and the old master has promised to come to be present. His contribution to the history of Latvian cinema will be honoured with his most famous and symbolic film Four White Shirts (1967, restored in 2017), included in the Cannes Film Festival selection Cannes Classics. The event will be complemented by a musical surprise from Carnival Youth and a premiere of a new film – a documentary short 100 Years Older (2022) by a quite surprising creative team (scriptwriter Daira Āboliņa, director Agita Cāne-Ķīle, cinematographer Andrejs Rudzāts, still photographer Māris Ločmelis, producer Matīss Kaža).
The traditional Selection of Latvian Animation will start in the big auditorium at 3 p.m. – latest films for children of all ages, some already in great demand at international film festivals. The programme includes Māra Liniņa’s lullaby Hush Hush Little Bear, Dace Rīdūze’s puppet film Angry Bag, late Nils Skapāns’ last film The Nap, Vladimir Leschiov’s childhood memory Comeback, and Edmunds Jansons’ short Guard of Honor.
Premieres of two feature films will be celebrated in the big auditorium on May 4. The documentary Home by director Laila Pakalniņa and cinematographer Gints Bērziņš will have its first screening in Latvia at 5 p.m. It premiered at two important European festivals last autumn – in the Baltic competition of the Tallinn Black Nights festival and Amsterdam IDFA selection Masters. The film crew visited 75 Latvian homes, and almost 180 residents of Latvia confirm the feeling of home, which is especially relevant everywhere in Europe today. "Home is what you can't take with you," says director Laila Pakalniņa.
Director Ivars Zviedris has just completed his documentary Bach vs. Covid he began filming two years ago in the first days of the pandemic. The central character of the film is musician Normunds who plays the cello every day in the Dome Square in Old Riga - if there are no people, to pigeons then. The filmmakers and Normunds, who closely follows the world events on TV, create a joint pandemic diary, and Bach's music accompanies them everywhere - in hospitals and vaccination centres, on empty streets and in a closed airport, on protests and in homes where parents and children learn to be together and ‘go to school’.
The programme of the May 4 Latvian Film Marathon in the small auditorium, in one way or other, relates to Ukraine and the ongoing war there. At 3.30 p.m., the documentary Mariupolis (2016) will be screened, it premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. The Lithuanian director, Mantas Kvedaravicius (1976-2022), filmed the life in the town soon after the beginning of the war in 2014, when the war had not yet destroyed the microworlds of the many film’s protagonists but just rumbled on the horizon as an indistinct threat. In 2022, the director returned to Mariupol with his film camera and was killed in the beginning of April. Now his film has become a monument both to the destroyed town and the author.
Tribute to Ukraine will be continued at 7.30 p.m. with the fiction film Sniper. The White Raven (2022, director Marian Bushan) – an emotional heroic drama about the events in Donetsk at the very beginning of the war in 2014. When the Russian forces attack the Donbas, pacifist Mykola's naive world collapses and he makes a cardinal decision to protect his homeland and enlists in a sniper company. The film’s star Pavlo Adoshyn is currently fighting in the Ukrainian armed forces.
Expanding the theme of brave resistance to political events, the documentary Valiant! A Car, a Cause, and the Cold War (2021, director Māra Pelēce) produced by the museum Latvians Abroad will be screened in the small auditorium at 5.30 p.m. It is an inspiring story about the imagination, boldness, courage and patriotic attitude of young Latvians in exile who organized resistance actions in the 1980s to constantly remind the world's governments that Latvia was occupied and did not voluntarily join the USSR. One of the main characters of the film, the owner of the car Valiant, Juris Bļodnieks from the USA, has promised to be present at the screening and meet the audience.
At the end of the evening, with the onset of darkness, a screening is planned at the open-air cinema Splendid Garden – the centennial animated film Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs (2019) with subtitles in Ukrainian.
Another special event of the May 4 Latvian Film Marathon will take place in the cinema at 3 p.m. - the presentation of the book My Cinema (and) Time in two volumes by film critic Anita Uzulniece, published by Laika Grāmata.
On May 4, the National Film Centre of Latvia will also offer film screenings in the neighbourhoods of Riga – at Mežaparks Grand Stage, in Iļģuciems and Imanta. Animation films Before the Day Breaks (2018), Pigtail and Mr. Sleeplessness (2017), Our Granny Rocks (2017), Waikiki (2017), and the fiction film Jelgava ’94 (2019) and the documentary Valiant! A Car, a Cause, and the Cold War (2021) will be shown in several screenings.
The NFC’s portal filmas.lv will offer a different holiday programme on May 4 all over the world according to local time in each country. The Sign Painter (2020, with subtitles in English) directed by Viesturs Kairišs and three centenary films – Edmunds Jansons’ feature-length animation Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs (2019, with subtitles in Ukrainian), Kristīne Želve’s documentary Mērija’s Journey (2018) that tells about the preservation of national treasures during the war and relates to the current situation in Ukraine, and Ivars Seleckis’ documentary To Be Continued (2018) that also represents the National Film Centre’s 30th anniversary selection will be offered for viewing online.
The May 4 Latvian Film Marathon is organised by the National Film Centre of Latvia and supported by the Riga City Council and Latvian film production companies, collaboration partners – the Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents and Culture Information Systems Centre.