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Berlinale 2012 - Market/Latvia

Country Focus: Latvia

Shoot your film in Riga and get up to 20% cash discount


With an annual production rate of three features, the Baltic republic of Latvia can hardly support a professional film industry – but since the Riga City Council instigated the Riga Film Fund two years ago, business has been thriving from incoming productions.

”We have so far serviced four international productions, from Japan, Korea, Germany and Russia, and three more are coming up – from Japan, Korea and Finland,” explained Latvian producer Janis Kalejs, of Film Angels Studio, as the Film Producers Association of Latvia yesterday (February 12) introduced the arrangement at the European Film Market.

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The rules are simple - foreign and Latvian co-productions with a budget of no less than €700,000 will get up to 20% cash rebate on their total eligible expenditure – full discount if the storyline is set in Riga or reflecting Riga as itself and for the most part made in Riga, less if it is filmed anywhere in Latvia but using the services of Riga-based companies.

Screening as a Panorama Special in the Berlinale, Korean director Je-kyu Kang’s epic war drama My Way is one of the movies to benefit from support the fund – instead of shooting scenes on the actual locations for the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II, the producers chose to lense them on Latvia’s Normandy style seashore. Much cheaper – and with a discount.

”Filming in Latvia is cost-cutting, still we use very experienced crews, also drawing on professionals in neighbouring Estonia and Lithuania – and then we have al sorts of locations: the 12th century old town as well as the modern-day city of Riga, Soviet style districts and military installations, medieval castles and a variety of manors, sand beaches – and Normandy,” Kalejs added.

”The Riga Film Fund is an incredible break-through in the efforts to conquer the international market,” added Latvian producer Sergei Serpunov, of balticpinefilms. He managed to have the UK production of The Dogs of Riga shot in Riga – and the first episode of the Wallander series shot (last summer) outside Sweden, starring Kenneth Branagh. Local budget was €1 million – minus 15%.

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