Latvia is a small country. And this is just the fourth year that a festival of such international significance takes place in Riga. We need new and young people to fall in love with the beautiful world of cinema! This is an honest answer as to why it is so important to have a whole weekend dedicated to films for the whole family, why it is important to provide additional captivating pastimes as well… Two fascinating days of a cinematic adventure for schoolchildren, pre-school kids and their kin.

Father and son try to make the dying mother feel comfortable during her final hours.

A movement artist moves below the successful surface of Oslo.

An extreme subculture. Young men with snowmobiles in the Lapland mountains.

The fading beauty of past that is still alive this day.

The doorbell rings. Penelope cleans her apartment in a hurry.

We’re in the same dream. A slaughterhouse in Budapest is the setting of a strangely beautiful love story. No sooner does Mária start work as the new quality controller than the whispers begin. At lunch, the young woman always chooses a table on her own in the sterile canteen where she sits in silence. Her boss Endre is also the quiet type. Tentatively, they begin to get to know each other. Recognising their spiritual kinship, they are amazed to discover that they even have the same dreams at night… This story of two people discovering the realm of emotions and physical desire tells about the fears and inhibitions associated with opening up to others, and about how exhilarating it can be when you finally do.

Virág Zomborácz’ first feature film. Its screenplay was her graduation project from the University of Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest. The story portrays a pastor’s family and focuses on the relationship between the father and his son. The father is now dead and the son has to work out what’s keeping the annoying ghost of his father in the earthly dimension. He takes advice from a professional medium and starts to sew up a series of loose ends to set the ghost free. Such an unusual grieving process finally affects the life of the whole family.

This is somebody, nobody, anyone. This is us in the course of time…

This year – the NORDIC HIGHLIGHTS programme opening film comes from Sweden! Power, masculinity, great success, deep tragedy, and myths. Harry Schein, the founder of the Swedish Film Institute, was one of the most influential cultural and media personalities in Sweden of the 60s and 70s. A documentary about an Austrian war refugee who ended up counting Ingmar Bergman and Olof Palme among his best friends. His yearning for change and fame demanded sacrifices. But Harry had nothing to lose. He had already lost everything – first and foremost his family and his trust in others… Among the interviewees are director Roy Andersson, legendary actresses Harriet Andersson and Liv Ullmann, Daniel Bergman, Ingmar Bergman’s son, Mårten Palme, Olof Palme’s son and many others.         Before the screening – Embassy of Sweden in Riga invites to a glass of lingonberry punch, some knäckebröd and to meet the film-makers. A small Q&A session is also planned after the screening.

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.

“The story starts in the 1990s, when Boris Nemtsov was widely viewed as the future president of the country. It ends in February of 2015, when he was assassinated on Moskvoretsky Bridge across from the Kremlin. Nemtsov is the only Russian politician to have left a significant mark on both eras: the 1990s, with their free press, political struggles, and low oil prices, and the 2000s, the time of stability and economic growth – but also the decline of political competition, growing censorship, street protests, and the invasion of Ukraine. Director Vera Krichevskaya and journalist Mikhail Fishman bring the riveting political biography of Boris Nemtsov to the screen. Many of the participants cast in this documentary would never find themselves on the same platform elsewhere. The people who talk about the crucial, often game-changing events of Russian history and the role Nemtsov played are his friends, colleagues, relatives, and fellow politicians: Alexei Navalny, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Mikhail Kasyanov, Alfred Koch, Ilya Yashin, Irina Khakamada, Grigory Yavlinsky, Viktor Yushchenko, Mikhail Prokhorov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, Raisa and Zhanna Nemtsova, Tatyana and Valentin Yumashev, Mikhail Fridman, Oleg Sysuev, Sergey Yastrzhembsky, Yevgeny Kiselyov, Nina Zvereva, Yevgenia Albats, Dmitry Muratov, and others. Because the producers have worked extensively with archival recordings, the film is built not only on interviews, but also on unique documentary footage of Boris Nemtsov, and his voice is constantly heard on screen alongside other narrators. The Man Who Was Too Free is the story of a man whose life – and death – are emblematic of Russia’s recent history.”

Oleg Sentsov is a Ukrainian filmmaker, Euromaidan activist and native of Crimea. After the Russian annexation of Crimea, he became an active opponent of the occupation. In May 2014 he was arrested by the Russian security service, charged with planned terrorist attacks and transported to Moscow. After over a year in custody, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, despite the fact that the testimonies were given under duress and evidence was insufficient. Sentsov never pled guilty. Director Askold Kurov follows the progress of the trial and the attempts of Oleg’s family, friends and lawyers to save him from prison. The notorious case inspired protests around the world: the European Film Academy and many renowned filmmakers such as Pedro Almodovar, Wim Wenders, Agnieszka Holland, Ken Loach, Johnny Depp and others called for Oleg’s release. Kurov’s investigation gradually reveals an absurd and frightening Kafkaesque story about how anyone can become a victim of a ruthless state machine.

Oleg Karavaichuk, eccentric musical genius and famous composer, takes his final stroll through Komarovo, a bay-side summer community just outside St. Petersburg where he spent his whole life and wrote most of his works. His final piece, “The Komarovo Waltz”, unveiled here for the very first time, was written as a tribute to the place. The film is the reclusive composer’s farewell to audience as well as his last address and reminder of things that are truly important – love for your fellow man and virgin nature.

It’s bedtime. Father and Daughter make up a world floating high above the clouds. The queen of this world is called Po.