FILMS FROM THE BALTIC SEA REGION
Every year the competition showcases 8-9 titles from the Baltic sea region – the contestants of the RIGA IFF Award presented by an international jury. The competition holds no limitations regarding genre or style, thus the programme can include documentaries, fiction, animation, or anything in between. Prepare for a journey full of discoveries and unexpected turns!
In this futuristic romance, outsider artists create a world in which everything can be designed and controlled, everything but their own feelings. Do the partners truly love one another or are they merely fascinated by their own mirror reflections? An attempt to examine the narcissism of contemporary young people who are part of Poland’s artistic Bohemia in the age of social media and consumption. The film is inspired by lives of two Warsaw based artists. Wojciech Bąkowski is one of Poland’s most charismatic modern artists with a fully developed stage image. Zuzanna Bartoszek creates drawings, writes poetry, and is affected by a number of autoimmune disorders that make her look unique.
After a chance meeting with a girl, a nameless boy becomes her lover and guardian angel. Together they avenge the girl’s rape, fleeing into the woods in an attempt to escape the modern world and civilization. They commit more crimes, killing encountered people at random, until the third character comes into the story, changing the dynamic of the lovers’ relationship. It’s an emotional story of passion, violence and the impossibility of running away from oneself. The previous feature film by Alexander Vartanov has been called a nightmarish Russian take on Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959). This film resembles a tragedy that took place in Russia near Pskov when the Blueberry Fields was completed already.
An odyssey through time and space, starting from the director’s own balcony. A journey filled with all the absurd, existential, trivial and sentimental thoughts and fantasies he came up with in a year, to see if it’s possible to grasp nothing more than the meaning of life. He is living in Brochmannsgate 12A, Oslo, Norway, Europe, Earth, Universe. This film is a time capsule filled with everyday life in Western Europe with all its holidays, memories and fantasies, questions big and small. It invites to think about one’s life and choices. What does it mean to be human today? And why do we rather want to speak to ourselves on a smartphone than socialize with strangers at a job gathering?
An impressionistic portrait of an octogenarian Swedish woman. The Sweden of the 1930s, a Siberian labour camp, and contemporary Ukraine. By blending time and places – a narrative painting is created about a family love that only exist in memories. The main character Lida, her son and sister have lived through war, a war that they aren’t a part of, or involved in, but are, nonetheless, irreversibly affected by. Now they can only be connected to each other through their common memories and the distances between them seem to vanish. The film tells about the cycle of time and a community with a unique language – an old Swedish dialect – disappearing.
Sixty-year-old Pia is intellectually disabled and lives with her aging mother Guittou in a farmhouse on the Danish island of Langeland. She dreams of meeting a man. Pia does exercises and strolls along the beach; she reads books, visits a day centre in the city and looks after her goose Lola with tenderness. Her conversations with her mother focus on the future – how and where will Pia live once she dies? The days come and go. One day Pia meets Jens at the harbour. The two of them get talking and start spending time together… A fictional tale that is based on Pia’s real life and is embedded in her everyday routines.
The vast Finnish archipelago consists of thousands of rocky islands. It’s a place where time passes differently, the mind has space to wander and even the smallest everyday things can be a source of endless fascination. Here we see five archipelago dwellers with lives so different, it makes one think that perhaps every man is indeed an island. They are all part of the archipelago’s landscape. But look beyond the surface and you’ll see that all islands are in fact parts of the same terrain. A poetic essay on life, death, and the taste of early potatoes.
Rauni Reposaarelainen is an overpowering, alcoholic samurai who sows damage and sorrow in his surroundings in Meri-Pori, western Finland. A mystical pseudonym Shametear makes a contract with the Satakunta Guild of Ninjas in order to assassinate Rauni. Rauni easily survives the assassination attempt. This is the beginning of the bloody and absurd road movie in Meri-Pori’s samurai reality. The film is a surreal and visually beautiful tragicomedy that open-mindedly combines Finnish and Japanese culture with beautiful northern nature.
A bourgeois dog confesses how he was transformed from being a filmmaker to being four-legged: Unable to find financing, Julian is forced to accept a job as a seasonal farmhand. However, he makes the young Canadian expat Camille believe that he’s going to do research for a communist fairy-tale film and offers her the leading part. They arrive at the deceitfully idyllic scene of an exploitative apple plantation. While Julian finds the manual labour agonizing, Camille enthusiastically plunges into the alleged research. The owner of the plantation accidentally gets killed, and an attempted revolution ends up in confusion. At this moment, however, the sparrows in the trees come up with a plan…
A mixture of magic, black humor and romantic love. The story is set in a pagan Estonian village where werewolves, the plague, and spirits roam. The villagers’ main problem is how to survive the cold, dark winter. And, to that aim, nothing is taboo. People steal from each other, from their German manor lords, and from spirits, the devil, and Christ. Stealing as an obsession. Estonian pagan and European Christian mythologies come together in this film. Both mythologies look for a miracle; for an ancient force that gives one a soul. This film is about souls – longing for a soul, selling your soul, and living without a soul. The film is based on Andrus Kivirähk’s novel Rehepapp.
The cinematic series about three significant figures in Latvian theatre – directors Oļģerts Kroders (“The Fifth Hamlet” (2007), Māra Ķimele (“Mara” (2014), and the newest about Andris Freibergs – all investigate how loneliness, love and death weave the films’ heroes’ lives and art together as if it would be a tight braid. In the “Fairytale” the accomplished European stage designer and educator paints a self-portrait by shaping the stage for an imaginary production titled Andris Freibergs. He transforms himself into a space that contains close to eighty years worth of stunning success, tragic loss, birth and death. It is an attempt to create the perfect empty space – one that would simultaneously encompass everything and nothing, the beginning and the end. The film is produced by the Riga-based VFS FILMS.