The 20th Baltic Sea Documentary Film Forum Begins
From September 7–11, the Baltic Sea Documentary Film Forum (Baltic Sea Docs) – an international event for film professionals and film viewers organized by the National Film Centre, is taking place for the 20th time. For 11 years now, Forum audiences will be able to see the best in documentary film from recent years. This year’s Forum film programme, entitled Beyond Good and Evil, will be shown not only in Rīga, but also in six other Latvian cities – Cēsis, Jēkabpils, Rēzekne, Talsi, Valmiera and Ventspils.
The film programme Beyond Good and Evil will offer film aficionados nine films covering a range of topical themes that have gained recognition among film professionals and viewers alike – child and parent relationships, loneliness and women’s rights, terrorism, cultural fusion and globalization, et al. The Forum will also offer discussions and a chance to meet the filmmakers. Paul Refsdal, director of Dugma: The Button (2016), the Beyond Good and Evil programme’s opening film, will be in Rīga, as will Steve Hoover (Almost Holy, 2015) and Jerzy Sladkowski (Don Juan, 2015).
The Beyond Good and Evil programme’s opening film Dugma: The Button – Norwegian director Paul Refsdal’s intimate portrait of would-be Al-Qaeda suicide bombers – will offer up a gripping cinematic experience. Through the director’s candid discussions with the young men he tries to clarify the motivations behind radicals willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of religion. On September 7, the opening day of the Forum, at 18:00 at the film theatre K.Suns, Refsdal will participate in a discussion dedicated to the themes of terrorism, migration, media responsibility and the influx of foreign cultures, moderated by journalist Gustavs Terzens. Discussion panellists will include: media expert Rita Ruduša – executive director of the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, journalist Zane Peneze, foreign policy expert Mārtiņš Hiršs, doctor and politician Abu Meri, pastor Juris Cālītis, and translator and poet Uldis Bērziņš. The discussion will stream live on the portal DELFI and a transcript will be available in the internet magazine Satori.
In turn, the second film dedicated to terrorism, Warriors from the North (2014), from directors Nasib Farah and Søren Steen Jespersen, focuses on Scandinavia’s resident Muslim families and their experiences with their children’s involvement in the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab. The faction recruits the youths, turning them into ticking time-bombs. In both films, Dugma: The Button and Warriors from the North, the abstract term terrorism acquires frighteningly personified features.
The backbone of the Beyond Good and Evil films is comprised of strong-willed and emancipated protagonists who overstep boundaries and traditions, landing outside of the customary and the previously defined. Polish documentary film pioneer Jerzy Sladowski, who resides in Sweden, dissects the complex relationship of Oleg, who is autistic, and his mother Marina, as well as our perception of what’s normal and abnormal in society in his film Don Juan (2015). A meeting with Sladowski will take place on September 8 at 18:00 at film theatre K.Suns after the screening of Don Juan. In turn, Iranian director Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami’s film Sonita (2015) tells the story of Afghan teenager Sonita who worships Michael Jackson. The girl arms herself with rap music in order to fight against the selling of underage girls into marriage. In the meantime, her family views Sonita as bride worth $9,000. Director Steve Hoover’s documentary Almost Holy (2015) focuses on Ukrainian priest Gennadiy Mokhnenko’s charismatic and contradictory personality. The holy man has made it his mission to save street kids from the destructiveness of narcotics and alcohol. A meeting with Hoover will take place on September 9 at 18:00 at film theatre K.Suns after a screening of Almost Holy.
The programme will take viewers on a cinematic odyssey to Ukraine, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Laos, Iran, the USA, Syria, and elsewhere. Daan Veldhuizen’s visually expressive film Banana Pancakes and the Children of Sticky Rice (2015), which records the effects of globalization on a small village in Laos with the increasing numbers of incoming tourists bringing the benefits of Western culture into the picturesque simplicity, will take you on a journey while seated in a film theatre. A new take on Sweden is presented in Erik Gandini’s film Swedish Theory of Love (2015), portraying the ever-progressing loneliness. In modern Scandinavian society individual independence is taken to the extreme – family planning on the internet and artificial insemination syringes delivered by bike courier is part of everyday life.
The programme also includes several inspiring and deeply intimate stories. Cinephiles and art-house film fans will appreciate Laurie Anderson’s visual essay Heart of a Dog (2015), in which the renowned multi-media artist and musician Lou Reed’s wife shares her thoughts on love, her relationship with her mother and her beloved dog, Buddhist teachings and the world’s ever-changing reality. Anderson’s melodic voice narration is intertwined with her music, graphics and documentary and staged scenes, creating an intense cinematic experience. The German-Argentinian film, Our Last Tango (2015), by director German Kral, is the passionate story about tango philosophy and an artistic partnership in life. The film follows the most famous Argentinian tango couple of all time – María Nieves Rego (80) and Juan Carlos Copes (83). Thanks to Juan and María, tango has transcended the borders of Argentina, landing on Broadway and experiencing a renaissance.
Ticket sales for Baltic Sea Docs film screenings in Rīga and the other cities have already begun. The National Film Centre is granting schoolchildren, students, pensioners (all with proper ID), as well as film professionals the opportunity to view the Forum’s film programme free of charge. Taking into account the large number of interested viewers, documentary film enthusiasts are asked to purchase tickets or register their complimentary tickets in advance. For the remaining public the ticket prices are as follows: Rīga and Cēsis – EUR 3.00 / Talsi – EUR 2.14 / Jēkabpils and Valmiera – EUR 2.00 / Rēzekne – EUR 1.00. Tickets to the film screenings in Rīga can also be bought online at: www.bezrindas.lv
A detailed list of the Beyond Good and Evil screenings for Rīga and the other cities is available here: http://nkc.gov.lv/aktualitates/arpus-laba-un-launa-plans-riga/ and at http://nkc.gov.lv/aktualitates/arpus-laba-un-launa-regionos/.
The films will be screened in their original language with subtitles in English and with Latvian translation provided.
For more information, go to: www.nkc.gov.lv, www.delfi.lv and the Baltic Sea Docs social networking sites.
The Forum is organized by the National Film Centre in cooperation with the Creative Europe MEDIA programme and the European Documentary Network.
Financial support: Creative Europe MEDIA programme, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the State Culture Capital Foundation, the Rīga City Council and the Danish Cultural Institute.
Informative support: DELFI, Radio Pieci.lv, Satori, Radio NABA, Arterritory.com, Veto, Kino Raksti and Jest.
Information prepared by:
Baltic Sea Documentary Film Forum representative