Latvian producer revisits history for Latvian hits

    Andrejs Ekis, the charismatic and ambitious producer of this year's record-breaking historical epic Defenders of Riga, is looking to Latvia's history to bring in local audiences.

    Now approaching 300,000 admissions nationally, Defenders of Riga is also responsible for construction of a back lot film studio, Cine Ville, located on 160 hectares, 60 kilometers outside of Riga. Ekis told FNE he founded the studio specifically to shoot the popular film, with the intention of expanding the studio with his next two projects.

    Currently in production is Heritage of Rudolf, a 3 million euro film targeted for local audiences with a release planned for 2009. Ekis plans to bring in local advertising and sponsorship, much as he did for the privately funded Defenders of Riga. Cine Ville is constructing a farm with open vistas for the new film.

    Ekis and his company Platforma Filma have even greater aspirations for the following film, planned for 2010. The back lot of Cine Villa will add a permanent set of "Old Riga" for a film based on the story of Baron Meunchausen, who lived in Riga for 20 years. The film will be shot in English.

    Ekis broke into film production in 2000 with Dangerous Summer, a World War II film directed by Aigers Grauba, who also directed the current box office hit. Producing is an off-shoot of Ekis' day job, general manager of commercial channel LNT which was acquired by News Corp in 2006. The station leads the market in Latvia, with a 22% audience share.

    Ekis is clear in his objectives: to make "Hollywood-style films." His goal, he says, is to take a film not to Cannes, but to the Oscars.