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After 11 days of cinema, the eighth Riga International Film Festival draws to a close and announces its winners

The Riga International Film Festival (RIGA IFF) took place this year from 14 to 24 October, initially in person in Riga, Valmiera and Madona, and simultaneously online throughout Latvia. The festival now closes out its eighth edition by announcing this year’s winners! The winning films were selected from a broad lineup that included more than 100 films across ten sections and competitions.

Due to the epidemiological restrictions in place in Latvia, this year’s awards ceremony could not be held in person. The festival has, however, chosen a different way to announce the winners, with a short film through which all participants and guests are able to partake in the celebratory atmosphere! Directed by Liene Linde and filmed by cinematographer Dāvids Smiltiņš, the short portrays an alternative ceremony enacted by actor Gerds Lapoška, actor and composer Toms Auniņš, as well as other surprise guests from the film world.

From the nine films in the RIGA IFF Feature Film Competition, the main award and the EUR 3,000 prize, provided by the insurance company BALTA, has gone to Andrius Blaževičius’ “Runner” – an intense story of a woman racing against time to find her lover.

The Feature Competition jury statement reads: “the film stood out in the competition as a remarkable accomplishment and impressive exploration of the relationship between mental health, empathy, and technology through a nail-biting urban journey. Additionally, this film’s complex and layered lead performance will stay with us for a long time”.

The festival is screening the winning film one more time on Monday, 25 October at 19:00 in the RIGA IFF online cinema!

The jury’s special mention in the Feature Film Competition goes to “Lamb”, Valdimar Jóhannsson’s surreal depiction of the nature of family life. The jury characterised the film as an “allegorical and ironical portrayal of humanity (human beings) principally responsible for its ‘lost paradise’ and a place in this world through the prism of myth and reality”.

The main award in the SHORT RIGA International Short Film Competition and the EUR 2,000 prize, provided by the insurance company BALTA, has this year been awarded to a film that takes a gentle, but determined look at the sexual abuse the filmmaker suffered in her childhood at the hands of a relative – Olga Lucovnicova’s documentary short film “My Uncle Tudor”.

The jury’s special mention went to Fanny Béguély’s “Pneuma” – an ecological story about the connection between family and nature. RIGA IFF has nominated Joanna Rytel’s short film “38” as its candidate for Best Short Film at the 2021 European Film Awards, describing it as a personal, witty and at times even cruel portrait of femininity.

The winner of the SHORT RIGA National Short Film Competition is Helen Ora’s debut short “Panic”. The jury’s statement reads: “Panic is a punk, crazy and emotionally anxious film. Helen Ora directs it with a very distinct and visually bold style”. The film was awarded a prize of EUR 1,000.

The KIDS’ REEL competition at RIGA IFF has two award winners. The European Children’s Film Association (ECFA) jury has chosen Stefano Cipani’s heartfelt “My Brother Chases Dinosaurs” as the winner of the Feature Film Competition and as a candidate for the ECFA Award. The film tells the story of life with a brother that has Down syndrome. Hugo De Faucompret’s “Mum is Pouring Rain” won the Children’s Short Film section and was put forward for nomination for the ECFA Short Film Award.

The festival also had a children’s jury – this year, the films were evaluated by Klāvs Bērziņš, Pauls Bērziņš, Miķelis Kreilis, Ketija Praija Vintere, Hanna Marija Suhanova, Anna Rūta Krieviņa, Guna Eglīte, Krišs Alberts Grīva, Mārtiņš Beika and Robins Elmeris. The jury decided to award its prize to Olivier Pairoux’s film “SpaceBoy”, which will be made available to audiences of all ages across Latvia in collaboration with Latvian Television!

For the first time this year, the TEST SCREENINGS section of the RIGA IFF FORUM awarded a prize to the most promising film project! The winning film was Sander Joon’s short film “Sierra”, which will receive post-production services worth EUR 3,000 from the festival’s sponsor BB Posthouse!

RIGA IFF took place from 14 to 24 October in person at Splendid Palace in Riga, in cinemas in Madona and Valmiera, as well as online throughout Latvia.

The festival also featured a series of lectures, discussions, and other events. Videos of the events can be found on the festival’s YouTube channel.

The festival receives support from the State Culture Capital Foundation, Creative Europe MEDIA, the National Film Centre and Riga City Council.