Two major Latvian co-productions on screens
by Annika Pham
Two Latvian films of budgets over €2m have just been released on local screens: Alexander Hahn’s comedy Midsummer Madness [+see also:
film profile] and the historical film Defenders of Riga by Aigars Grauba.
Midsummer Madness, which opened last Friday through Acme Film, is one of the biggest co-productions ever made in Latvia, with a €2.3m budget that was put together by Fischer Film (Austria), Steve Walsh Productions (UK) and Kaupo Filma (Latvia), with support from the Austrian Film Institute, Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, Vienna Film Fund, State of Upper Austria, National Film Centre of Latvia, Ingenious Media and Eurimages.
The directorial debut of Latvian-born Hahn – now living in Austria – is a comedy about a group of foreigners and their adventures on St John's Eve, the summer solstice, a traditional Latvian night of festivities. Starring Dominique Pinon and Maria de Medeiros, Midsummer opened in Austria on October 12 through Constantin Film.
Grauba’s long-gestating Defenders of Riga, the most expensive Latvian film of the post-Soviet era with its €2.8m budget, was released at home yesterday on national holiday Lacplesis Day, in the large auditorium of Riga’s Congress Center and in the Rīga Movie House cinema. Other national venues will follow by the end of the year.
Defenders chronicles an important chapter in Latvian history: the defeat of 50,000 German troops by Riga’s citizens and soldiers in November 1919. Television mogul Andrejs Ekis, general manager of Latvian’s largest private broadcaster LNT (sold last May to Rupert Murdoch), produced the project for Platforma Films with Estonia’s RUUT Pictures and Russia’s Telinvest, and support from the MEDIA Programme.
Three years in the making, the historical drama was shot on the Cinevilla Studio Backlot, a 150-hectare plot of rural land outside of Riga bought by Ekis and transformed into a set for the picture.
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