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BERLINALE 2011 Latvia

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Panorama screens first Latvian doc in two decades: homo@lv

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Panorama screens first Latvian doc in two decades: homo@lv

Kaspars Goba’s homo@lv, screening tomorrow in the Berlinale’s Panorama sidebar, is the first Latvian documentary to play the festival since 1991.

The director has filmed the Gay Pride Parade in Riga, his country’s capital, from its inception in 2005 until its abolition in 2010, collecting footage and commentaries from Pride’s supporters and protestors. The film questions the role politicians play in manipulating people’s ideals.

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“It is the first serious Latvian investigative documentary film in many years, and it will most certainly have an impact on Latvian society,” said Ilze Gailite Holmberg, head of the National Film Centre, from the Baltic Film Stand at the European Film Market.

homo@lv is the latest Latvian film to find a festival platform after Jurgis Krasons' 2D animation short To Swallow A Toad screened in official competition at Cannes 2010, and Laila Pakalniņa's documentary On Rubik's Road showed in Venice’s Orizzonti sidebar last September.

International festival recognition is quintessential for the quality of Latvian films as the country’s film industry struggles to survive the lack of public support. “Our film budget was cut by 17%, to €1.3m, today,” noted Gailite Holmberg, who says that the foreseen cut of the MEDIA Programme, after 2013, would be seriously damaging to the local film industry.

On the positive side, 2010 saw the creation of the first regional film fund in the Baltics, the Riga Film Fund, supported by the City of Riga. The Fund attracted several foreign shoots, including Germany’s Das Blaue von himmel, Japanese war drama Clouds over Slope and Indian action movie Agent Vinod. A large-scale South Korean WW2 drama is scheduled to film in March/April.

“Foreign shoots brought around €7m of investment in our local economy,” Gailite Holmberg told Cineuropa.

In 2011, around 10 Latvian films will be released domestically. They include Yevgeny Pashkevich’s Gulf Stream under Iceberg, the first Russian/Latvian co-production since the country’s independence; Inãra Kolmane’s Mona; Alexander Hahn’s Monsieur Taurins; and Mushroomers by Ivars Tontegode.

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