Latvia Sees Most Intense Season of Domestic Releases in Its History

    January by Viesturs Kairiš January by Viesturs Kairiš credit: Andrejs Strokins

    RIGA: Latvia is seeing an abundance of 18 domestic theatrical releases in the last quarter of 2022, with cinemas fully operational in 2022 after two years of on and off pandemic restrictions. Eleven feature films, one long animated film and six documentaries will have their premieres this fall.

    The intensive release schedule draws attention to the genre versatility of the Latvian cinema, but it also highlights the drastic pandemic containment measures from 2020 through 2021, due to which many Latvian premieres had to be postponed.

    Labeled as a “film marathon” by the National Centre of Latvia, the release season started on 8 September 2022 with Aik Karapetian's comedy Samel's Travels / Sema ceļojumi, an ironic fairytale about a foreigner's trip to a strange country. The film was produced by Latvian Mistrus Media and Belgian Polar Bear, with sales handled by LevelK from Denmark.

    Among the most notable domestic releases, and still in theatres, is Signe Baumane's animated film My Love Affair with Marriage / Mans laulību projekts, produced by Latvia's Studio Locomotive, Luxembourg's Antevita Films and The Marriage Company LLC from the USA. The film, whose sales are handled by New Europe Film Sales, opened the 9th Riga International Film Festival (12 – 22 October 2022).

    Linda Olte's debut feature Sisters / Māsas, which premiered at the Riga IFF and featured the first Latvian audio description for the visually impaired, is also in cinemas across the country. Sisters is one of the first films represented by director/producer Matīss Kaža's new production house Trickster Pictures, having Italy's Albolina Film as a coproducer and Latvian Fenix Film and Deep Sea Studios on board as well.

    The latest domestic theatrical release of the season is Viesturs Kairišs' January / Janvāris, an autobiographical coming of age story set in the early 90s. The coproduction between Mistrus Media (Latvia), Artbox (Lithuania) and Staron Film (Poland) was released on 11 November 2022 and had a successful opening weekend, with more than 7,100 admissions. Yellow Affair is handling the sales.

    Some of the films (few of the documentaries mostly) will not get a wider release, having a limited amount of theatrical screenings after their premieres.