FNE 2010 Year in Review: Latvia Sets the Stage

By Daira Abolina

    2010 will go down as a seminal year for Latvia, with the passage of a new film law and the establishment of a regional film fund that bring it up to European standards. While national film production is still down, the country has now set the stage to move forward in the decade ahead. Meanwhile the film service industry saw a fresh burst of energy.

    A 15-year-long work process came to a close when Latvia passed the Film Law on 17 June 2010, finally giving the film industry judicial regulations. The goal of the Film Law is to ensure the development of the film industry in Latvia, to support the creation and distribution of Latvian films, as well as providing protection, preservation, accessibility and popularization for the films.

    The industry received another positive note with the appointment of a new Minister of Culture (www.km.gov.lv), Sarmīte Ēlerte, who holds a degree in film.

    The Riga Film Fund began operating just a few months earlier, on 5 March 2010, with the purpose of attracting foreign film production money to the Latvian film industry and the city of Riga. With an influx of foreign productions, Latvia has become a competitor within the Baltics and in Europe. In 2010, in cooperation with Film Angels Studio (www.angels.lv), productions from India, Germany, Japan, Korea and other countries were shot in Latvia.

    Domestic film production continued on a reduced scale. The number of films made has decreased, but 29 films that received state funding (through the National Film Centre, www.nfc.lv and the State Culture Capital Foundation, www.kkf.lv) premiered in 2010: 4 features, 2 short features, 16 documentaries, and 7 animated shorts.

    The National Film Centre granted development funding to 4 documentary films. Unfortunately no feature films are in development, but there are 19 films (including features, documentaries and animation) currently in production.

    In the first 10 months of 2010 Latvian films were screened in notable international festivals. Among them: Nils Skapāns' animation short Wonderful Day (Juris Podnieks Studio, www.jps.lv) at the Berlin Film Festival (February 11 - 21); director Jurģis Krāsons animation short To Swallow a Toad (Rija Films, www.rijafilms.lv) in the short film programme at Cannes (May 12 - 23); and director Laila Pakalniņa's (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) documentary On Rubik's Road (Hargla Company) at the Venice Film Festival (September 1 - 11). Latvian films were screened and awarded at numerous international festivals in Albania, the USA, Denmark, Canada, Korea, Russia, the UK, Lithuania, Iran, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan and others.

    The industry registered 43 film producers, 53 distributers and 304 distribution locations in 2010.