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Making Movies

The Latvian film industry is a young and developing sector although it's history goes back to the country's first independence between the two World Wars. Considering the lengthy interruption to film making in Latvia, it has managed to produced some world renowned documentary film makers including Herz Frank, Juris Podnieks and some independent producers are now coming to the fore. Latvian films of the last two decades have won prestigious awards at Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Locarno, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian and Munich IFF among others.

There is in fact a number of funds and support for aspiring film productions through the National Film Centre of Latvia. The NFC is a state financed organization giving Government financial support to Latvian films, both national and co-productions, and promoting Latvian films abroad.

They have access to state as well as European Union's MEDIA funding and Council of Europe's Eurimages co-production fund. There is a co-operation platform "Baltic Films" set up that allows the three Baltic countries to represent the region jointly in the big film festivals, markets and other film events all around the world.

Some big Latvian film festivals include:

  • International Film Forum Arsenals takes place every other year in September -October
  • International Animation Film Festival Bimini takes place every year in April.
  • National Film Festival Lielais Kristaps takes place every other year in September, taking place this year from 28 September to 7 October.
  • International Film Actors Festival The Baltic Pearl takes place every year in September
  • International Children's Film Festival Berimor's Cinema takes place every year in March.

Latvian born Uldis Dimiševskis, who after working with Canadian audiovisual heritage came to the NFC in 2006, has been promoted to Head of Production & Development in 2007. Uldis not only supervises publicly supported film projects and distribution of finances, but takes part in the selection of projects for public funding.

He together with several independent experts reads through more than a hundred of prospective film projects annually. This year, the NFC had 2,1 million Euros in production money to allocate to aspiring Latvian film makers. "The projects that the NFC receives both in terms of numbers but more importantly quality are far more greater that the level of funding that we currently have. However, there is hope for more funding in 2008 that will attempt to match the potential of Latvian film," said Uldis.

Latvia has two studios with shooting pavilions; the Soviet era, Riga Motion Pictures Studio and the smaller newly built Cinevilla Studio and Back lot, Cinevillage, besides having around 30 independent production companies.

This year sees the beginning of production at the Cinevillage of a big national project "Rudolf's Gold", from notable writer and director Jānis Streičs and producers of the much-anticipated "Defenders of Riga" due for release this November, and is set to premiere in early 2009.

So if you are a wannabe producer, documentary maker or animator and thought your project or idea could never get underway, you might be able to get funding and support from the National Film Centre of Latvia (www.nfc.lv), in Estonia, the Estonian Film Foundation (www.efsa.ee) or if you are a budding Lithuanian film maker the Lithuanian Film Centre (www.lfc.lt)

The Baltic's with its incredible history, culture, talent and diversity has many stories to tell and is on its way to becoming a successful cinematic part of the world.