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Baltic Sea Docs gets under way


- Documentary makers and professionals from the Baltic Sea region are currently converging on the Latvian capital of Riga

Baltic Sea Docs gets under way
Director Dāvis Sīmanis, who is taking part in Baltic Sea Docs with Death of Death

Baltic Sea Docs (BSD), the event for documentary makers hailing from the Baltic Sea region as well as from Central and Eastern Europe, is now under way in its traditional location: the Latvian capital of Riga. The forum will welcome over 100 filmmakers and industry professionals looking to both fund their projects and search for new talents and documentaries from the region.

Decision makers at the event including representatives and commissioning editors from numerous television companies, including the BBC, Arte/ZDF, Al Jazeera, YLE and ERR, as well as international sales agents such as Taskovski Films.

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Hot docs EFP inside

The event consists of public pitching sessions that take place alongside preparatory workshops and seminars open to both BSD participants and industry professionals. There is also a programme of screenings for new documentaries at various locations, which is open to the general public.

This year, there will be 18 projects presented during BSD, covering a variety of subjects and themes. The war in Ukraine is – unsurprisingly – touched upon in a number of films, including The Blessed Ones (directed by Andrii Lysetskyi, Ukraine/Latvia), which examines the war through four contemporary artists, and Little People (directed by Ivan Sautkin, Ukraine/UK), which looks at the small deeds that have great import during times of war. Boxes From Georgia (directed by Gvantsa Meparishvili, Georgia) follows those in the Tbilisi humanitarian aid centre for Ukraine as the desire for unity clashes with the nationalism that the war has stirred up.

Other films focus on fascinating people as they deal with the world around them. Becoming Roosi (directed by Margit Lillak, Estonia/Germany) follows a teenage girl who grew up as the child of an activist, while Iron Man (One Day I Wish to See You Happy) (directed by Maryna Nikolcheva, Ukraine) sees the lead character rail against the world while attempting to repair a 1986 Volkswagen Golf and being observed by his wife. Požerskis: In Focus (directed by Joris Skudra, Lithuania) examines one of Lithuania’s most influential photographers, and My Family and Other Clowns (directed by Heilika Pikkov and Liina Särkinen, Estonia) looks at the struggles of those behind the make-up of Estonia’s most famous clowns: Piip and Tuut.

Contemporary issues are also put under the microscope in many projects. Death of Death (directed by Dāvis Sīmanis, Latvia/Czech Republic) sees one person searching for immortality, and A Hole in the Wall (directed by Arjun Talwar, Poland) has the director observing the street that he lives on – through the eyes of an immigrant, he looks at today’s Poland. Also examining immigration and Poland is The Guest (directed by Michał Bielawski, Zvika Portnoy and Zuzanna Solakiewicz, Poland), which follows the plight of a Syrian refugee on the Polish-Belarusian border. How to Fix Yourself (directed by Armands Začs, Latvia) examines the struggle of the modern generation, while the Lithuanian film Abandoned (directed by Vytautas Puidokas) follows a group of recovering addicts trying to parent a 14-year-old boy. I Look Like My Mother (directed by Amina Maher, Germany) sees the director – a trans woman – retrace the trauma buried within her relationship with her mother. Part of Society (directed by Rati Tsiteladze, Georgia) follows a transgender woman, who has been locked away from the outside world for 11 years, as she finally flees Georgia for Europe and tries to become a part of society.

The projects are rounded off by FLC – The Fabulous Cow Ladies (directed by Mia Halme, Finland), about three cows living in a forest pasture and the women who take care of them; In the Name of Honor (directed by Gvantsa Meparishvili, Georgia), which follows a female lawyer defending the rights of women in the face of honour killings; The Last Will (directed by Janis Abele, Latvia), about a poet who goes on a quest to find the long-lost cremation urn of his predecessor; and Until the Wedding (directed by Daniel Stopa, Poland), a bittersweet story about a mature marriage in a provincial Polish town.

The tutors who are set to work with the participants include renowned Ukrainian director Roman Bondarchuk and Latvian helmer Laila Pakalnina.

Baltic Sea Docs will also present a Creative Europe – MEDIA panel discussion on “Mental Health in the Documentary Industry in Times of War”.

The event continues until 11 September. The full list of projects selected for the 26th edition of BSD is as follows:

Abandoned - Vytautas Puidokas (Lithuania)
Producers: Ruta Jekentaite, Justė Michailinaitė (Ūkų Studija)

Becoming Roosi - Margit Lillak (Estonia/Germany)
Producers: Karolina Veetamm, Hõbe Ilus (Tiny Desk Productions, Dirk Manthey Film)

The Blessed Ones - Andrii Lysetskyi (Ukraine/Latvia)
Producers: Gennady Kofman, Olga Beskhmelnytsina (MaGiKa Film, VFS Films)

Boxes From Georgia - Gvantsa Meparishvili (Georgia)
Producer: Tiko Nadirashvili (Millimeter Film)

Death of Death - Dāvis Sīmanis (Latvia/Czech Republic)
Producers: Guntis Trekteris, Radim Procházka (Ego Media, Kuli Film)

FCL – The Fabulous Cow Ladies - Mia Halme (Finland)
Producer: Mia Halme (Sahadok)

The Guest - Michał Bielawski, Zvika Portnoy, Zuzanna Solakiewicz (Poland)
Producer: Maria Krauss (Plesnar & Krauss Films Sp z o o)

A Hole in the Wall - Arjun Talwar (Poland)
Producer: Karolina Śmigiel (Uni-Solo Studio)

How to Fix Yourself - Armands Začs (Latvia)
Producer: Gints Grūbe (Mistrus Media)

I Look Like My Mother - Amina Maher (Germany)
Producers: Fabian Altenried, Sophie Ahrens (Schuldenberg Films)

In the Name of Honor - Gvantsa Meparishvili (Georgia)
Producer: Tiko Nadirashvili (Millimeter Film)

Iron Man (One Day I Wish to See You Happy) - Maryna Nikolcheva (Ukraine)
Producer: Oleksandra Kravchenko (Naive Production)

The Last Will - Janis Abele (Latvia)
Producers: Guntis Trekteris, Dita Birkensteina (Ego Media)

Little People - Ivan Sautkin (Ukraine/UK)
Producer: Elena Saulich (Babylon’13, Roast Beef Production)

My Family and Other ClownsHeilika Pikkov, Liina Särkinen (Estonia)
Producer: Ülo Pikkov (Silmviburlane)

Part of Society - Rati Tsiteladze (Georgia)
Producer: Olga Slusareva (ArtWay Film)

Požerskis: In Focus - Joris Skudra (Lithuania)
Producer: Justė Michailinaitė (Všį Broom Films)

Until the Wedding - Daniel Stopa (Poland)
Producers: Daniel Stopa, Anna Huth (Kiosk Films)

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