On the occasion of Latvia-Korea 30-year anniversary of the establishment of the Diplomatic Relations, the first major Latvian Film Festival is to be screened in Busan and Daegu from May 15 to May 16. According to the Embassy of Latvia in Seoul, this event marks the first time in history that eight different Latvian movies will be simultaneously available to the Korean public. Overall, this festival offers free entrance and contains eight different cinematographic works –three feature films and five animations, displaying the variety of Latvian cinema.
Following the founding of the Republic of Latvia on November 18, 1918 the Latvian cinema industry has continued to develop along with the country itself. That is why Latvian cinema prides itself in producing movies based on real life stories of its people. Feature film “Blizzard of Souls”, depicts the life of a young Latvian man and his emotional struggle during the WWI while the film Dream Team 1935 introduces its audience to the real life story of the Latvian team, which became the first European basketball champions in 1935.
At the same time for many years now Latvian films have continued to flourish at the international film festivals winning various awards for their creativity. This year has been especially eventful with Latvia submitting two of their works to the Oscar’s nomination for the best foreign feature film “Blizzard of Souls” and best foreign animation “My Favorite War”, both of which will be available to the viewers at the Latvian Film Festival.
Latvian cinema has also continued to explore the field of documentary films, producing more of them each year. One such documentary film made by a Latvian filming crew “Liberation day” follows the story of a Slovenian rock band and its concert in North Korea. In addition to that Latvian cinema has went further and combined documentary film with an animation creating a new type of cinematographic work filled with real life stories depicted with the help of a uniquely drawn animation.
Animation “My Favorite War” is a documentary depicting a young girl’s childhood while growing up in Soviet Latvia. This work combines distinctive cut-out animation with family photos and archival footage to forge a look at an authoritarian society through young girls eyes. Similarly, animation “Rocks in my pockets” is a film based on true events involving five women of director Signe Baumane’s family and their battle with depression. A uniquely drawn story that raises questions of how much family genetics determine who we are and where we are going.
Latvian animation tradition began in the 1960s and is currently one of the strongest areas in the Latvian cinema – diverse in genre and technology. Due to this, Latvian animations are well known even among the representatives of the Korean film festivals. That is why animation has been selected as the main focus of the Latvian Film Festival, drawing its public to the unique creativity of the Latvian all the while promoting the talented authors who give life to these stories.
In total, this festival offers five animation movies, three of which are specifically targeting young children and their families. Animation film “Jacob, Mimmi and the talking dogs” is a traditional animation filled with adventure and comedy. It tells a story of a young boy Jacob and his fight against a greedy businessman, planning to destroy the nearby park and replace it with skyscrapers. In order to save the historic park Jacob becomes friend with the furry inhabitants of the park – the talking dogs.
To further show the uniqueness of Latvian animation we offer ”Away” a marvellous work which contains no dialogue and focuses mainly on music, sounds, movements of the characters and the world around them. This adventure animation will be interesting to anyone who wishes to look deeper into the world beyond the dialogue.
Finally, animation movie “Before the day breaks” is a beautiful story of Sun and Moon. One day their daughter is kidnapped so they must ask for help from a human to bring her back. This animation movie is one of the movies made in the honour of Latvia centenary, which is why it incorporates many aspects of Latvian folklore. From the meaning of Sun and Moon, to the Latvian festivities as well as Latvian folk songs. This is truly a movie fit to celebrate Latvian centenary.
Latvian Film Festival offers free screenings and will entertain viewers of all ages. It is organized by the Embassy of Latvia in the Republic of Korea in collaboration with Busan Cinema Center and Dongseong Art Hall. It is also part of the Public Diplomacy Programme dedicated to Latvia’s Centenary and coordinated by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This event aims to celebrate both the Latvian centenary as well as the Latvia- Korea 30-year anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1991.