As part of Riga Pride and Friendship Days 2007 taking place from May 31 - June 3, two LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Film Nights will be held in Riga, organized by the NGO Mozaika and financed by the Social Integration Fund from an EU grant. As Andrejs Visockis, a Mozaika member and the LGBT Film Nights organizer, puts it, "The purpose is to highlight themes of interest for the local LGBT community and raise awareness about LGBT individuals through international films which would otherwise not be shown in Latvia."
The short films include "Body Image" (Netherlands, 2006), a melancholy film in which a young man's complex emotions and memories are triggered during a body massage; "Latch Key" (USA, 2005) a comedy about two teenage brothers' separate sexual pursuits in the same house and before Mom arrives; and "Ryan's Life" (USA, 2004), a whimsical look at a neurotic and adorable Los Angeles teenager who suspects he might be gay.
The documentary "Straight Out" (Iceland, 2003) focuses on nine Icelandic teenagersÂ who are in the process of coming out. Of the features, "Westler" (Germany, 1985) reveals the love affair between two young men living on either side of the Berlin wall in 1985 and "Fine Dead Girls" (Croatia, 2002) depicts a young lesbian couple who move into a suburban apartment building where their new neighbors start unraveling their lives.
Some of the films are more polished than others. They range in tone from dark and somber to light-hearted and silly. In a few of the films, the characters' sexuality is the locus around which everything revolves. In others, it's simply part of a larger story. "Body Image" has some wonderfully evocative imagery of childhood, and "Ryan's Life" feels like it could have been the pilot episode of "Seinfeld," if Jerry were about 16 and gay. Of all the films, however, I found "Fine Dead Girls" the most exciting new discovery. The film was Croatia's Oscar entry in 2003 for Best Foreign Language Film and won some minor international awards. Director Dalibor Matanic composes his shots elegantly, alternates between saturated and desaturated colors, and choreographs comic and tragic characters who dance in an out of the protagonists' lives in a drama which builds to a thundering climax.
It's an accomplished piece of filmmaking which highlights the human capacity for intolerance, acquiescence and destruction, and touches upon the universal themes of love and loss. Fittingly, this excellent movie closes the LGBT Film Nights.
The LGBT Film Nights begin Friday, June 1 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 2 at 5 p.m. at Kino Suns in Riga. A detailed film schedule is available on www.mozaika.lv. Tickets are free and are available at Kino Suns and at the Riga Pride and Friendship Days Information Center at the Hotel Reval Latvia.