On Thursday, October 17, the legendary cinema Splendid Palace hosted the opening of one of the largest Baltic film festivals – Riga International Film Festival (RIGA IFF). It commenced with a screening of 3D animation film Away, made by the local filmmaker and animator Gints Zilbalodis.
The guests were addressed by RIGA IFF Director Liene Treimane, Artistic Director Sonora Broka, National Film Centre of Latvia Director Dita Rietuma, and Gints Zilbalodis, the author of Away. The speakers highlighted the significant role that RIGA IFF plays in creating the image of the capital of Latvia. This marvellous event is also an opportunity to pay tribute to the world's cinema.
The 6th edition of the RIGA IFF will be held until Sunday, October 27. More than 140 films in 11 separate thematic sections will be screened at various cultural venues, such as Splendid Palace, K.Suns, Kino Bize, Cafe Film Noir, the National Library of Latvia, and others.
The SHORT RIGA Baltic Music Video (BMV) Competition and Party will mark the festival’s second and last Friday evening. This event of the year for music video creators from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will take place at Villa C.C. fon Stritzky, where the works will be screened in their most fitting format. The competition screenings will take place in an informal party atmosphere with the filmmakers and musicians in the audience; afterwards, the party will hit full throttle as DJs from Riga, Moscow and Amsterdam spin tunes until dawn.
The evening will start at 20:00 as the works selected for the BMV Competition demonstrate that the music video is a powerful short format in its own right. The programme’s curators spent a whole year searching for works that challenge audiences by extending the accepted boundaries of the music video format, content, and even art in general – and now they are ready to present what they’ve found. An integral part of the evening will be the meet and greet with music video makers, musicians, curators, and the competition’s international jury.
As soon as the screening finishes, the lights will go dim and the dance floor will open to the evening’s performers and you – our guests.
Artūrs Liepiņš (Riga)
As a DJ, Artūrs rarely plays music created by others because he spends most of his time composing original works. He has been part of the projects Dun Dun and ELVI/DUNIAN, has written music for the films Paradise 89, All My Friends are Dead and Fabula, and is working on creating the audiovisual identity of RIGA IFF. He is currently working on the project Domenique Dumont, a collaboration with a mysterious French artist that begun in 2013. The music of Domenique Dumont has been released by the record labels Antinote, International Feel and Record Makers, and has attracted the attention of various international media outlets (Resident Advisor, Pitchfork, NME). Domenique Dumont’s music has also been featured at a number of festivals and on international broadcasts, including BBC Radio, NTS, Radio Nova, and FIP FM.
As Liepiņš himself says: ‘I’ll be playing a variety of both contemporary and 20th-century music that has been either ripped from dusty hard drives and flash drives, has been mailed to me, I’ve found on the street in other countries, or has been recommended to me by friends or algorithms.’
Javybz (Anya Karmanova and Julia Rodionova) is a Moscow-based duo. They are also residents at the London radio station NTS, where they host the monthly show All Styles All Smiles.
Anya and Julia recently celebrated ten years on the radio (the show originally debuted at another London radio station – Deep Frequency). They've also done shows for Red Light, Worldwide FM, David Byrne and The Lot Radio.
Both artists focus on rare grooves, classics, new productions and obscurities with a worldwide perspective. Together and independently they've been involved in various music projects such as organising parties and vinyl markets, curating festivals, and curating music for an exhibition at the Tate Modern.
JEN Z (Amsterdam)
JEN Z, aka Žanete Skarule, has a master’s degree in Film/Video from the California Institute of Arts (CalArts) and is an experienced director who made her debut at RIGA IFF in 2017 with the film Flying Monks Temple and the project Sound We See: Riga. This year, she is participating with the short film Fabula. Alongside her professional career, JEN Z skillfully leads crowd scenes on the dance floor.
The RIGA IFF 2019 programme is indeed ready! 148 films in 11 days and 11 thematic sections including competition programmes – these are the numbers of the sixth Riga International Film Festival. You can find our curators' insights by most of the film descriptions on this site - a chance to see the film from the curators' point of view!
Again, contemporary cinema will meet the classics and work of renowned directors will be screened alongside courageous debuts. There's no shortage of films in the programme, but we have made sure that one can navigate them easily and that the most treasured finds can be saved for later. Do that with “❤”! Head over to the calendar view or the alphabetical index and pick your favourites.
The Spanish writer-director challenges the audience with his latest work Liberté. Adapted from his play which debuted at Berlin in 2018 and having had its premiere in Cannes, it – typically to Serra’s work – strictly parts the audience in those that do or do not accept to follow the director’s vision. The RIGA IFF screening will take place on the evening of October 23.
The film – spanning more than 2 hours in duration – not only challenges the audience to immerse itself in the challenging territory of boundless satisfaction of the pleasure, but also to indulge in the multilayered message and lack of emotion characteristic of Marquis de Sade.
Shortly before the French Revolution, the aristocrats expelled from the puritanical court of Louis XVI seek the support of the legendary Duc de Walchen, German seducer and freethinker. They aim to export libertinage – an extreme hedonism that rejects moral boundaries and authorities. But moreover – to find a safe place to pursue their errant games, where the quest for pleasure no longer obeys any laws. And they find themselves in a dark forest clearing...
Bodies, impulses, desire. The libertines craved liberty. The film is asking what it is that this liberty leads to, which absence? And is this absence bearable? Serra wants the film to physically impact the viewer and produce the type of stunned state you can be in when you walk out of a night club in the early hours of the morning. When you can no longer distinguish what you’ve seen from what you’ve heard or what you’ve imagined.
Roy Andersson – characterised by his well-developed style of narration and aesthetics – returns to RIGA IFF. His latest film About Endlessness – the first since A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, with multiple festival's screenings in 2014 – is as odd and as alluring as the previous. It will be screened as a part of NORDIC HIGHLIGHTS on October 18 and 22.
About Endlessness is a reflection on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendour and banality. We wander, dreamlike, gently guided by a Scheherazade-esque narrator. Inconsequential moments take on the same significance as historical events: a couple floats over a war-torn Cologne; on the way to a birthday party, a father stops to tie his daughter’s shoelaces in the pouring rain; teenage girls dance outside a cafe; a defeated army marches to a prisoner-of-war camp.
The director has developed such a genuinely distinctive and original way of making films that his works qualify as a genre of their own. Simultaneously an ode and a lament, this film presents a kaleidoscope of all that is eternally human, an infinite story of the vulnerability of existence.
As a part of the festival's section New Canadian Cinema – dedicated to the latest films from Canada – audiences will have the opportunity to see the latest film by Xavier Dolan titled The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. The polarising Canadian-born director's film – the production of which spanned several years – was premiered in Toronto International Film Festival, but the RIGA IFF screening will take place on October 24, at cinema Splendid Palace.
A decade after the death of an American TV star, a young actor Rupert reminisces the written correspondence he shared with him, as well as the impact those letters had on their lives. Rupert Turner reveals all he knows about John's troubled life, what compromises John made for fame — and how John's tenderness and generosity inspired that little boy who was desperate to connect with the man he idolized.
The film condemns the cruelty and prejudices that thwarted John's too-short life while celebrating the depth of his connection to those who truly loved him. Xavier Dolan’s seventh feature and first in English is a summation of key themes the Montreal writer and director often explores: gay alienation and shame, suburban resentment and fraught mother-son relationships.
Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Kit Harington and Kathy Bates all star in major roles! Various biographical details of the director's life have been woven into the story.