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Country Focus: Latvia

Public monies cut 33% in 2009


- Latvian cinema is a direct victim of the current economic crisis. Following state budget cuts, funds for cinema administered by the National Film Centre of Latvia (NFCL) have decreased 33%, from €4.6m in 2008 to €3.1m in 2009.

This is a severe blow for the local film industry, which over the last four years had enjoyed a steady growth in state support, from around €2m for 2006 and 2007 to a record €4.6m last year. Further film funding comes from the Culture Capital Foundation, which provided an extra €1.5m for 2007 and 2008. Figures for 2009 are not yet available.

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“Five films currently in production will receive financing for continuing their work, but we won’t be able to support new features and animated films,” said Zanda Dudina of the NFCL. “This is terrible.”

Latvia produces around four to six films annually. The most successful domestic title last year was the period drama Defenders of Riga, which came in third in the local top ten with almost 70,000 admissions, ahead of Mamma Mia! [+see also:
film profile
and Quantum of Solace [+see also:
making of
film profile
. It was also Latvia’s entry from an Oscar nomination.

The Latvian film industry and its 35 active production companies are now even more dependent on foreign partners for financing. Thus, local studios are hoping to attract foreign productions with Riga’s good locations, varied infrastructure and strong transport network linking foreign destinations, professionalism and very high work ethics, according to the NFCL.

Upcoming features include Death to You by Juris Poškus (Monotony), currently in post-production; and Andis Mizišs’ directorial debut The Hunt, produced by Ego Media, to be released domestically in the summer.


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