A special screening of The Mover by Dāvis Sīmanis will open the Riga International Film Festival

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The opening film of the Riga International Film Festival (RIGA IFF) this year will be The Mover (Tēvs Nakts) by Dāvis Sīmanis – a true story about the Latvian Žanis Lipke who saved more than fifty people during the Second World War. The RIGA IFF will open on 18 October at 7 p. m. in the Large Hall of Splendid Palace. Tickets to the special opening screening are available on the festival website rigaiff.lv.

The new feature film The Mover is based on historic events, memories and testimonies and tells about the legendary Rigan Žanis Lipke. During the Second World War he worked in Luftwaffe, the German military aviation, warehouses by day and supplemented his family’s income by smuggling at night. When Nazis started to persecute and kill the Riga Jews, Žanis decided to save the doomed people. Literally under the noses of German soldiers, he took dozens of people to safety. With the help of his relatives he made a makeshift shelter for them in his own home – a cellar under the shed.

In the time of overall brutality, the actions of Žanis Lipke seemed like a miracle even to the ones he saved. What was the secret behind Lipke’s courage – was he simply a risk taker and spiteful daredevil? Or did he have a gift for human compassion even under extreme conditions?

With the special screening on the RIGA IFF opening the filmmakers wish to pay tribute to Augusts Sukuts, the founder of the Film Forum Arsenāls, who died last year. He was one of the initiators to commemorate Žanis Lipke’s effort. Žanis and his wife Johanna were awarded with the honorific of Israel, Righteous Among the Nations, that says, ‘Anyone who saves a life is as if he saved an entire world.’ There is a memorial to Žanis Lipke in Ķīpsala, not far from their house, at 8 Mazais Balasta dambis.

Director Dāvis Sīmanis for the first time turns to the events of the Second World War that nobody in Latvia has ever tackled in a feature film. ‘There must be people also nowadays, remaining relatively unnoticed, who would suddenly act in a strange and selfless manner in a situation of crisis. I think that only thanks to the actions of such freaks that often seem inexplicable from the point of view of survival, the society and the state can continue in a somewhat reasonable way,’ says the director. Films by Dāvis Sīmanis have been screened in several prestigious international film festivals. He is a film school lecturer in Latvia and Finland.

Žanis and Johanna Lipke are played by Artūrs Skrastiņš and Ilze Blauberga, their son Zigfrīds is Matīss Kipļuks. The film is produced by Mistrus Media (producers Gints Grūbe, Antra Gaile and Inese Boka-Grūbe) that received the Latvian National Film Award Lielais Kristaps in 2016 for the feature film The Chronicles of Melanie (Melānijas hronika).

The Mover is financed from the programme Latvian Films for Latvia’s Centenary of the Latvian National Film Centre and the EU programme Creative Europe – MEDIA. It will be released in Latvia on 25 October.

Tickets to the special screening of The Mover are already available on the festival website http://www.rigaiff.

The Riga International Film Festival will take place from October 18 – 31. Its screening venues will be cinemas Splendid Palace, KSuns and Kino Bize, as well as the National Library of Latvia. The audience will be presented with more than 100 films in 12 programmes, diverse industry events, and a range of thought provoking public discussions.

The RIGA IFF is supported by the National Film Centre of Latvia, the European Commission’s programme Creative Europe – MEDIA, the National Film Centre of Latvia, and the Riga City Council.