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“I was going for a story that would be equally heavy and life-affirming”

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Renars Vimba • Director


- BERLIN 2016: Young Latvian filmmaker Renars Vimba has crafted an interesting coming-of-age tale in Mellow Mud, Crystal Bear for Best Film in the Berlinale’s Generation 14plus section

Renars Vimba  • Director

After having studied film directing and cinematography in Riga and Tallinn, young Latvian filmmaker Renars Vimba went on to direct short films such as A Touch, I Like What’s Gonna Be Tomorrow and The Breakwater. In his debut feature film, Mellow Mud [+see also:
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interview: Renars Vimba
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, Vimba portrays the struggle of a young girl who has to grow up without a father and a mother, locked away in a remote hut in the Latvian countryside with her grandmother and her younger brother. It is a film about how to adapt to a hard life, and how to make the most of it, which was presented in the Generation section of the 66th Berlin Film Festival. We met up with the director to talk about the elements behind the project and what being selected for the German festival means for the state of the Latvian film industry.

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Cineuropa: You are starting off in the feature-film world with a film about a young girl starting her adult life. Was this deliberate?
Renars Vimba: No; it's rather a coincidence.

What was the film's development process like?
My work on the movie began while I was still studying at the Latvian Academy of Culture. We had to come up with an idea for a short film, which would consequently become our final assignment. At that point, I had already made a couple of shorts, and I knew that the format wouldn’t work for that particular vision, for that story I had in mind. It was against the rules, but at the time, I insisted on making a feature film.

The story is rather bleak, but narrated in an intimate, almost smooth kind of a way. Why did you choose this approach?
I believe that life is harsh and beautiful at the same time. I was going for a story that would be equally heavy and life-affirming.

There is a contrast between the rural Latvian landscape and London. Did you want to portray a clash between Eastern and Western Europe?
This contrast appears naturally, since the textures of wild, rural landscapes and cityscapes are very different. This could be true for any country, either in the East or the West. Speaking of clashes, I would rather prefer to talk about the juxtaposition between the intimacy of the countryside and the feeling of metropolitan estrangement.

Being a young filmmaker in Latvia, was it difficult to move forward with this project?
It wasn’t easy to secure the initial funding. The reality of the film industry dictates the rules whereby emerging filmmakers have to compete with already-established professionals for the same funding. But once the budget was secured, everything ran smoothly.

It is safe to say that there are not many films coming out of Latvia. Do you think this could change any time soon for a new generation of directors?
I would say that we have achieved quite a lot as an industry, especially if we think of the many success stories for Latvian documentary and animation filmmakers. Perhaps the past decades have not been so prosperous for our feature films, but this could change, since many new talents are now coming onto the scene.

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