FNE Market Analysis 2019: LATVIA

    Blizzard of Souls by Dzintars Dreibergs Blizzard of Souls by Dzintars Dreibergs

    RIGA: The Latvian film Blizzard of Souls directed by Dzintars Dreibergs broke box-office records existing since the early 1990s, showing the continuing demand for local films, that was significantly boosted by the Latvian centenary film programme, which peaked in 2018.

    Two domestic productions made it to the the Top Ten box-office list. The most popular domestic film was Blizzard of Souls / Dvēseļu putenis, a historical drama directed by Dzintars Dreibergs and produced by Kultfilma, with 226,984 admissions (8.33 % of total 2019 admissions). The independent production Class Reunion / Klases salidojums directed by Andrejs Ēķis and produced by Platforma was number 7 on the list, reaching 80,967 admissions.

    The last films of the Latvian Films for Latvian Centenary programme were released in 2019: the feature film 1906 directed by Gatis Šmits and produced by Studio Tanka, and the long animated film Jacob, Mimmi, and the Talking Dogs / Jēkabs, Mimi un runājošie suņi directed by Edmunds Jansons and produced by Atomart.  


    Class Reunion by Andrejs EkisA total of 17 feature fiction films, 10 animated films and 16 documentaries were in production in 2019, with the support of the National Film Centre of Latvia.

    Among the feature fiction films in production there were: The Year before the War / Gads pirms kara directed by Dāvis Sīmanis and produced by Latvia’s Locomotive in coproduction with Lithuania’s Studio Uljana Kim and Czech Produkce Radim Prochazka, In the Mirror / Spogulī directed by Laila Pakalniņa and produced by Hargla in coproduction with Lithuania’s Just a Moment, The Pit / Bedre directed by Dace Pūce and produced by Marana Productions, Christmas in the Jungle / Ziemassvētki Džungļos directed by Jaak Kilmi and produced by Locomotive.

    Among the documentaries in production there were: The Peasants / Zemnieki directed by Ivars Seleckis and produced by Mistrus Media, and The Fire Circle / Uguns aplis directed by Signe Birkova and produced by VFS Films.


    A total of 320 films were distributed in 2019, including 54 domestic films, 117 European non-national productions, 130 films produced in the USA, and 19 films from other territories.

    The leading distribution companies in the country are regional Baltic distributors: Forum CinemasLatvian Theatrical DistributionAcme Film, Garsu Pasaulio irasai and BestFilm.

    1906 by Gatis ŠmitsRegional distribution in areas without permanent cinemas is handled by Kinopunkts, which screens films in more than 100 places. The project is sustained by the National Film Centre and the Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia.

    Small cinema initiatives focusing on the distribution of independent and art house films, such as Kino Bize and Kino Spektrs, which emerged in 2014 and 2015, continued their activity in 2019.

    The Internet platform Filmas.lv, the biggest Latvian film database, launched in 2015, provides a catalogue of 2,740 films going back to the 1920s. Two hundred films are available free of charge for viewing on any device in Latvia. Special events had been organised to make the films available internationally for a limited period of time, due to copyright restrictions. The project is supported by the National Film Centre of Latvia in cooperation with the Culture Information Systems Centre.

    Commercial platforms ShortcutLMT straume, Helio and Viaplay offer film streamings, including domestic premieres.

    Nova Lituania by the Lithuanian director Karolis Kaupinis and produced by Lithuanian M-films, won the best feature film award at the 6th Riga International Film Festival (17-27 October 2019).

    The best national fiction film award announced during the Lielais Kristaps National Film Festival (7-12 November 2019) went to Oleg / Oļegs directed by Juris Kursietis and produced by Tasse Film (Latvia) in coproduction with Iota Productions (Belgium), In Script (Lithuania) and Arizona Production (France).

    The annual analogue and experimental film festival Process took place from 20-24 March 2019, and actors’ film festival Baltijas Pērle took place from 21-27 September 2019.

    Oleg by Juris KursietisEXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE

    Latvia had 34 screening places in 2019, out of which 20 are cinemas (including five multiplexes, one of them with 4 screens) with 81 screens, from which 72 are digital screens (36 3D screens), throughout the country.

    A new multiplex cinema Apollo Kino opened in Riga in 2019. It has nine screens with a total of 1,146 seats, and the first IMAX hall in Latvia.

    Total admissions were 2,723,422 and total gross was 14,962,678 EUR in 2019, compared to 2,523,600 total admissions and 13,293,972 EUR total gross in 2018.

    Out of the total, 548,938 were admissions to domestic films, 356,645 admissions to European non-national productions, 1,765,099 admissions to US-produced films, and 52,740 admissions to films from other countries.

    Admissions to domestic films in 2019 (548,938) were only slightly lower than in 2018, when the number was 556,832.

    Domestic films continued to have an important market share in the distribution in 2019 - 20.16 % (2,504,132 gross). In 2018 it was – 22.07%, in 2017 only 7.84%.

    A total of 54 national films were screened in 2019 and two of them made it to the admissions top ten.

    Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs by Edmunds JansonsThe most successful film was Blizzard of Souls directed by Dzintars Dreibergs and produced by Kultfilma, with 226,984 admissions, followed by five animated films such as The Lion King (109,821 admissions), How to Tame Your Dragon 3 (101,182 admissions) and The Secret Life of Pets 2 (95,487 admissions), as well as Joker (86,599 admissions), Avengers: Endgame (72,596 admissions) and Once Upon a Time …in Hollywood (51,675 admissions).


    The National Film Centre is the main film institution in Latvia. It serves as the primary source of funding for local films. The grants contest is held annually, although separate tenders regarding different stages of project development, or specific thematic programmes, are announced throughout the year.

    Total state support for the industry in 2019 was 6 397 379 EUR, including 5 462 576 EUR from the National Film Centre and 934 803 EUR from the Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia.

    Through the production financing grant schemes (annual production grants and a special programme for National identity films) in 2019, the National Film Centre supported the production of new domestic projects, four animated films, seven documentaries and six feature films, with a total amount of 1 610 401 EUR.

    Four projects received funding through minority coproduction grants: one documentary and three feature films, for the total amount of 300,000 EUR.

    In 2019, the total financing for the production of national films, including minority coproductions, in the amount of 3,64, 276 EUR, was granted to a total of 33 films: 14 feature films, eight animated films and 11 documentaries.

    The Year Before the War by Dāvis Sīmanis, photo: Gatis Indrēvics, FACEBOOKIn 2019 a total of 679,903 EUR was distributed for servicing seven projects with production companies from the Netherlands, Hungary, Finland, Russia, Germany, Sweden and South Korea.

    In 2019 one Latvian minority coproduction received funding from Eurimages in the amount of 48,000 EUR – the Lithuanian feature film, musical drama Songs for a Fox directed by Kristijonas Vildžiūnas and produced by Lithuania’s Studio Uljana Kim in coproduction with Latvia’s Locomotive.

    In 2019 the Riga Film Fund, which offers a cash rebate of up to 20% of all production costs, approved co-financing agreements for a total amount of 484,110 EUR, supporting four minority coproductions.

    A new rule was implemented in the financing legislation: in the case of grants for domestic films, at least 80% from the applicable expenses have to be spent in Latvia.

    Latvia has a range of diverse filmmaking locations, including medieval architecture, Art Nouveau architecture and 19th century wooden architecture, therefore urban as well as natural locations in Latvia are able to double for many European locations.

    Latvia is also home to The Cinevilla Film Studio, located 50 km from the national capital of Riga and providing opportunities for shooting, as well as its own hotel.

    The Latvian Film Producers Association with its approximately 30 members represents the most important film production companies in Latvia. The Latvian Filmmakers Union, which was established in 1962, also represents local filmmakers. An important role in the region is played by the Films Service Producers Association, whose members include, among others, the Latvian Film Angels Studio, the Baltic Pines film studio and Ego Media. These studios have vast experience in handling foreign productions shooting in Latvia.


    Christmas In The Jungle by Jaak Kilmi, photo: Andrejs StrokinsThe leading broadcaster in Latvia until the second half of 2019 was the commercial channel TV3 along with the LNT channel. LNT was taken over by TV3, that combined previously separately operating news departments and rebranded LNT. TV3 belongs to the company All Media Baltics, which underwent rebranding and is now called TV3 Group.

    The public broadcaster LTV is funded by the state and through advertising revenues. The Latvian Television organises an annual documentary film project The Code of Latvia / Latvijas kods focusing on stories about contemporary life in Latvia. The project is implemented in cooperation and with the support of the National Film Centre of Latvia and the Culture Capital Foundation. New episodes are presented every year in November as a part of Latvian Independence Day celebrations.

    In 2019 LTV produced and broadcast a 12 episode series for the centenary of Latvia - The Red Forest / Sarkanais mežs directed by Normunds Pucis and Armands Zvirbulis, a historical story taking place at the end of the 1940s.  


    Peitavas 10, Riga, Latvia, LV-1050
    Phone: +371 7358878
    Fax: +371 7358877
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    Director: Dita Rietuma

    Phone: +371 6703 7659
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    Class Reunion by Andrejs EkisPhone: +371 6750 3177
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    President: Aija Berzina
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    Mobile: +371 26466014

    Chairman: Ieva Romanova
    Elizabetes Str.49, Riga
    LV-1010, Latvia
    Mobile: +371 29696874
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    Kr. Valdemara 33-10, Riga, LV-1010, Latvia
    Phone: +371 67331921
    Mobile: +371 25666698
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    Phone: +371 6707 8137
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    Report by Zane Balčus (2020)
    Sources: Film Riga, the National Film Centre of Latvia, the Riga Film Fund, the Latvian Television