RIGA - A few people have been complaining recently of the seeming overabundance of film festivals in Riga in September. Less than a week after finishing with the Baltic Pearl Film Festival, it seems we're all set to go see another batch of films you can only see on classic DVD collections and films from countries that you usually don't see movies from (like Iraq).
It would be nice if the powers that be managed to space things out just a little better. But they haven't. So if you have some extra cash on you, here are some of the highlights of the Arsenal International Riga Cinema Forum.
There's one in the International Film Festival category that may or may not be a great movie, but is definitely a testament to the human spirit. Mohamed Al-Daradji, a 28-year-old Iraqi, started working on his feature film debut "Dreams" amid the chaos of war in his homeland back in 2003. The film centers on a mental hospital that gets bombed.
Miranda July directs and stars in one of America's selections in the category, "Me and You and Everyone We Know." It's a slice of life film about a shoe salesman who meets a performance artist. Claudia Llosa's "Madeinusa," a Spanish film set in an Indian village in Peru takes place amid a mystical Sin Festival.
There will also be a Baltic Film Competition, which will feature, among others, Signe Baumane's "Dentist," a hilarious little animated short that delves at least once into the homoerotic. Baumane is a Latvian-born cartoonist who has worked with Bill Plympton and spends most of her time in New York. Edmunds Jansons' "Scissorman" is a freakish little film about a mythical figure who cuts off children's fingers if they stick them in their mouths.
There will also be a small retrospective of the great era of outlaw American cinema from the late '60s and early '70s, which will include Sam Peckinpah's ultra-violent western, "The Wild Bunch." The film tells the story of a group of outlaws led by William Holden who travel to Mexico in the early days of World War I and encounter modernity in the form of a machine gun. Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show" offered a frank depiction of sex in a dead end Texas town. Based on the story of serial killer Charles Starkweather, Terrence Malick's "Badlands" is a grim depiction of American loneliness.
A few other interesting films will make up the mix. "All the Invisible Children" will offer seven short films about kids facing famine and other awful hardship in seven different corners of the world. It will feature the talents of Spike Lee, the great Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica, and the genius behind "Alien" and "Blade Runner," Ridley Scott. Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" is a disturbing documentary about an idealist who sought out a life with grizzly bears and died because of it.
The surrealist Matthew Barney's "Drawing Restraint 9" will also be shown. The festival will also put on a special showing of the Russian silent classic, "The Dying Swan," directed by Yevgeny Bauer, with a live accompaniment. The film, which combines a fascination with death, art and dance was made in 1917, and yet it will probably fit in well alongside the more contemporary works at Arsenals.
Arsenals International Riga Cinema Forum, Sept. 16 's 24
Tickets: 2-4 lats (2.88 's 5.78 euros)
More info: 2006.Arsenals.lv