The first Latvian feature film Lāčplēsis directed by Aleksandris Rusteikis was released in 1930. The Fisherman's Son (1939) directed by Emmy Award nominee (1975) Vilis Lapenieks is considered a Latvian classic ending the era of filmmaking before the outbreak of WW II.
After the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 Vilis Lapenieks emigrated and after the end of the war continued his film-making career abroad where he has been credited internationally as cinematographer on more than 63 titles.
The Riga Documentary Film Studio was created in Latvia during the first year of Soviet occupation. During the first decades of Soviet rule filmmakers in Latvia were coming mostly from Soviet Russia creating propaganda films to depict the victory of Socialism.
After the death of Stalin in 1953 a more liberal period in Soviet Union's cultural policies followed. Filmmakers started to enjoy grater artistic control at the same time the Soviet State Committee for Cinematography (Goskino) in Moscow provided the money, state censorship body Glavlit and CPSU Department of Culture had the control over releasing the movies.
The first Latvain feature films produced during the era still had to meet the ideological requirements of the Soviet regime: The Story of a Latvian Rifleman (1957) directed by Pavels Armands and Tobago Changes Its Cource (1965) directed by Aleksandras Leimais were produced.
In the 1970's Aleksandras Leimais and Gunārs Pieses became the most popular directors in Latvia making a series of historical adventure films. Put, vejini (Blow, Wind) (1973) directed by Pieses is a movie based on a story of Latvians popular author Jānis Streičs. Naves ena (In the Shadow of Death) (1971) is adopted from a story by Rudolfs Blaumanis. One of the most popular films from the era is Na grani vekov (Color of St. John's Night) (1981) , a light parody on the Soviet system
Other most notable Latvian directors from the era are Aivars Freimanis, Rolands Kalnins and Andris Grinbergs. Latvias top film actors during the era were Eduards Pavuls, Lilita Berzina, Gunars Cilinskis and Karl Sebris.
After Latvia regained independence in 1991, the most successful Latvian filmmakers have been Janis Streics receiving Rights of the Child Award (1994) at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival for Cilveka berns (1991) ; Janis Putnins the winner of the Best Film and Best Screenplay at the Latvian National Film Festival in 2007 for Vogelfrei (2007) ; Varis Brasla whos Ziemassvetku jampadracis (1996) has won Children's Film Award at Würzburg International Filmweekend, the Children's Jury Award at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival. ; Aivars Freimanis a nominee for International Independent Award at the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg; Una Celma Honorable Mention at the Uppsala International Short Film Festival in 2001; ; Viesturs Kairiss whose debut feature film Pa celam aizejot (2001) won the Jury Prize at the Raindance Film Festival in 2002. ; and Laila Pakalnina, a winner of several film awards, a nominee for the Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Udens (2006).
Travel: Prague Is Passe, Budapest Booked Up. Welcome to Riga Architecturally It Is a Gem, There's Music in the Air and theSoviet Union Is a Mere Memory. the Capital of Latvia Is Still Unexplored
May 10, 1998; THE LATVIAN capital has come a long way since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. When I first visited Riga in 1994, you...