Homo Novus, dir. Anna Viduleja, 90′, Latvia, 2018
Avivid depiction of rivalry in love and art among the bohemian crowd of 1930s Riga.
The year is 1938. The poor artist Juris Upenājs arrives in Riga from the countryside, while at the same time the refined Eižens Žibeika returns from his painting session in Paris in the hope of receiving a considerable inheritance from his uncle. While Upenājs, in his loyalty to art and helped by the motley Riga bohemian community, is reaching ever greater heights, the talented dilettante Žibeika falls ever deeper. Žibeika’s father has bequeathed all his property to an artists’ competition in which the grand prize is a study tour to Paris. Under the guidance of the curator and critic Kurcums, Upenājs meets the comic characters of the art world, experiences success and failure, contempt and love. Žibeika, for his part, loses money, his beloved and the competition, but he gets a chance for reprieve by devoting himself to painting. Upenājs triumphs in the competition, discarding all attempts to adapt to trends and following the old master Piegāzs’ advice: “Genuine artists try to grasp and disclose the spirit of their nation in painting.”