Latvia boasts a powerful presence at this year’s Cannes Film Festival

Latvia boasts a powerful presence at this year’s Cannes Film Festival

It’s definitely a red-letter year for Latvia at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The French gathering, which kicked off yesterday and will run until 25 May, is welcoming a large contingent of professionals from the small Baltic nation and will host a screening of Gints Zilbalodis’s much-anticipated animated feature Flow [+] (co-produced with France and Belgium) in the Un Certain Regard strand.

“Animated films rarely grace the main stages at Cannes, making this inclusion particularly noteworthy,” states the National Film Centre of Latvia’s (NFC’s) official press release. After Cannes, the picture will head to Annecy, the world’s largest festival celebrating animated cinema, running from 9-15 June.

“Earning a place in the Cannes Film Festival competition amidst the thousands of submissions is a significant achievement for Latvian filmmakers. This feat is even more remarkable given that animated films are a rarity at Cannes. Notably, in 2010, Jurģis Krāsons’ animated short To Swallow a Toad was featured in the short-film competition, underscoring the strength of Latvian animation […]. I extend my best wishes to the film Flow, crafted by Gints Zilbalodis and produced by Matīss Kaža, and hope it has a harmonious journey towards global recognition, and perhaps even acclaim at Cannes,” underscored Dita Rietuma, head of the National Film Centre of Latvia. Previously, only one Latvian feature had been screened in the same section – namely, Laila Pakalniņa’s The Shoe in 1998.

Flow will celebrate its world premiere on 22 May, with additional screenings scheduled on 23 May and two more as part of the Marché du Film (14-22 May). The market serves as a focal point for Latvian film professionals, with the National Film Centre of Latvia, the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) and the Latvian Film Producers Association collaborating to operate the Latvian pavilion. Additionally, Rija Films will present movies from different Latvian studios at a separate stand, offering them up for distribution.

Meanwhile, Dāvis Sīmanis’s feature Maria’s Silence [+], produced by Mistrus Media, will be screened at the market for industry professionals, distributors and festival programmers. The aim is for it to continue its international journey after premiering at the Berlinale in February.

Furthermore, Dog of God by directors Lauris Ābele and Raitis Ābele has attracted considerable attention at the Marché du Film and is featured in the programme of the Fantastic 7 industry event (see the news). This programme showcases fantasy genre projects or recently completed films recommended by seven A-list festivals. Supported by the National Film Centre of Latvia and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the film is being created using experimental rotoscoping techniques and is endorsed by the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, which bills it as “an exciting Latvian project” and “a visually captivating gem of the genre from the Baltic countries”. The presentation of the Fantastic 7 programme will take place on 19 May at 12 pm, at the Palais des Festivals.

Moreover, representatives from Latvia and the other two Baltic countries, united under the banner of the Baltic Shorts network, will take part in the Short Film Corner/Rendez-vous section. Emīls Alps, a young Latvian producer leading the Neonorma studio, has been selected as one of the ten participants in the New Producers Room initiative. Alps will present the upcoming short film Thank You for Your Review, helmed by directors Līva Polkmane and Marta Šleiere, alongside other filmmakers at Cannes.

Latvian film producers, NFC representatives and the Riga International Film Festival team, along with the Baltic Shorts participants, will be actively involved in various events at the Cannes Film Festival. Latvia’s Minister of Culture, Agnese Logina, will also attend the world premiere of Flow.

Finally, the NFC, in collaboration with the Latvian Animation Association, has published a full catalogue of Latvian animators and animation studios (which can be accessed here). An additional leaflet profiling the Latvian film industry, its studios and its producers is available here.