RIGA: The sixth annual Riga International Film Festival, which concluded on 27 October 2019, gave its award for best film to Nova Lituania by Karolis Kaupinis. The big winner this year, however, was the festival itself, which drew a record number of visitors with an impressive industry programme and specialised industry events on short films, animated films and VR.
The Riga IFF Forum, which included the Magnetic Latvia Film Conference, did exactly what its title implied: attracted a stellar gathering of international film professionals to introduce them to Latvia and the Baltics. The three Baltic states are becoming Europe’s new darling, with high film incentives, new film studios being constructed and a wave of domestic film successes thanks to increased film funding to celebrate their 2018 centennials.
The Forum also focused on three areas of filmmaking important to the region, but often overlooked: animation, short films and VR production. The Baltic Animation Meet-up (BAMU) opened with presentations of ten animators and their works, along with introductions of another ten animators and several more regional film organizations. Anna Zaca, who organised the event, said that short animation is the main product of the Baltic film industry, with around 40 animated shorts produced each year, but that funding for short films is still a problem in the Baltics. Riga IFF give equal acknowledgement to shorts, with a competition section and prize of equal status as their feature film competition. Short film proponents had an open panel discussion with Baltic TV representatives to encourage them to open up programming slots for short films. The TV executives were in agreement that they would prefer packages of short films, rather than acquiring individual films.
In tandem with the festival, the board of the European Film Academy (EFA) held its annual meeting in Riga, with the EFA Board Deputy Chairman Mike Downey stepping up to replace outgoing Chairwoman Agnieszka Holland.
The festival had film competitions for Baltic feature films, short films, documentary films and children’s films.
The list of winning films follows:
FEATURE FILM COMPETITION
RIGA IFF Award for Best FilmNova Lituania (Lithuania)Directed by Karolis KaupinisProduced by M Films (Lithuania)
Special MentionAnimus Animalis (A story about people, animals and things) (Lithuania)Directed by Aistė ŽegulytėProduced by Meno avilys
FIPRESCI Latvian Section Jury Award:Scandinavian Silence (Estonia, France, Belgium)Directed by Martti HeldeProduced by Three Brothers (Estonia)Coproduced by ARP Selection (France), Media International (Belgium)
Splendid Palace People’s Choice AwardScandinavian Silence (Estonia, France, Belgium)Directed by Martti HeldeProduced by Three Brothers (Estonia)Coproduced by ARP Selection (France), Media International (Belgium)
SHORT RIGA International Competition
Best Short FilmUncle Thomas, Accounting for the Days (Portugal, France, Canada)Directed by Regina Pessoa
Special MentionCommunity Gardens (Lithuania)Directed by Vytautas Katkus
Special MentionOperation Jane Walk (Austria)Directed by Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner
KIDS WEEKEND Feature Film Competition
RIGA IFF Children’s Jury Diploma – Best FilmRocca Changes the World (Germany)Directed by Katja Benrath
Grand PrixImmortal (Estonia, Latvia)Directed by Ksenia Okhapkina
Best DirectorPure Art (Poland, Belarus)Directed by Maxim Shved
Jury awardSchool of Seduction (Denmark)Directed by Alina Rudnitskaya
Special mentionDaymohk (Netherlands)Directed by Masha Novikova
Special mentionState Funeral (Netherlands, Lithuania)Directed by Sergei Loznitsa