Lights, camera and action for Arsenals’ 25th anniversary

  • 2011-09-07
  • By Antra Feldmane

AN ART REVOLUTION: Films from international and Baltic directors will be screened at the festival.

RIGA - This year the International Film Festival “Arsenals” will be held for the 25th time, putting on another of its programs of excellent choices for the Baltic audience. This time the festival sets up a well discussed ‘battle’ with the “Baltic Pearl,” another film showcase with a quality mark this autumn. The main thing is that both events are on at the same time in September, and this has been a serious issue for cinema critics and audiences, as they will be offering more than 155 movies together.
It has increased disputes between the two event organizers, however, it seems that the situation is due to change as logical discussion is finally under way. This has not happened in 2011, but hopefully in 2012 the offer will be more balanced and available for consumers.

Meanwhile, “Arsenals” has published all its film programs, including an exceptional Baltic showcase, together with innovative offers for music lovers and other options with its own ideas. Formerly known as Film Days, in 1986, it was first noticed for its extravagant and unique event for new directors from other countries, along with Latvia as well. The first movies were shown at the House of Science in Riga. The festival has been called a revolution since that day because of its art-house attitude, which was some kind of extravagance back in the ’80s. Currently, it has been a normal part of every movie lover’s life for almost ten days.

“Arsenals” has gained most of the media attention,” notes Laura Lizuma, press officer of the “Arsenals” festival. “Therefore, the audience is supported with a decent information level about movies and related events. It is hardly possible to miss a single event,” adds Lizuma when explaining the relationships between the press and organizers. Press and TV support a wide range of different channels to receive the “Arsenals” message, such as interviews, printed reviews for the best movie picks and similar promotional events. Lizuma also says that Rietumu Bank has been a strong financial partner for many years, and government support is considered more like a symbolic gesture (although, no less important), not a constant money flow. “In one way or another it would not be possible to organize ‘Arsenals’ every year without sponsorship deals,” says Lizuma.

“Relationship status: It’s complicated” (no, it is not a Facebook mark) - this is the title of the Netherlands and Flandria film program based on works directed by women. Such themes as loneliness, difficult relationships or self-searching dominate. “My queen Karo,” directed by Dorothee van den Bergh, for instance, is a story about the hippie community of the ’70s, with its contradictions and family life. “Nothing Personal,” a film by Urszula Antoniak, tells about a man and woman who date, but are not quite as together as they should be. They, however, try to find a way into their personal space rather than endure unhappy loneliness.

Another exceptional event will be held on Sept. 11, when Stefan Drossler, director of Filmmuseum Munchen, will tell more about the future of 3D cinema. He also intends to cover the origins of cinema, back in 1900, in order to illustrate some aspects of 3D aesthetics in the past and future.
Another part of the festival will be dedicated to the Baltic film program and competition. Latvian cinema this time is very important for Herz Frank, a legendary documentary film-maker, who is celebrating his 85th birthday this year. On Sept. 12, his “Man at Red Line,” as well as a film by another Latvian filmmaker, Uldis Brauns, “235 000 000,” which is inspired by Frank’s creative work, will be shown.

In its turn, France will be represented by Olivier Assayas, who is considered one of the most influential French directors since the ’80s. In 1986 he directed his first full-length movie, called “Disorder.” The same year it earned a statue at the Venice Film Festival. Another Assayas film, “Carlos,” is formerly five hours long, varying somewhere between TV and movie format and is well received by critics worldwide, thanks to its virtuosity and precise showing of the environment of the ’70s. The protagonist of “Carlos” is the well-known actor from Venezuela, Edgar Ramirez, who seems to be a central key of the story’s success. The movie will be shown on Sept. 16 in Kino Citadele.

Recalling the barricade days back in the early ’90s, a film by Dzintra Geka will be shown, creating an intense story about Gvido Zvaigzne, who was killed during the filming process on Jan. 20.
Additional animated stories by Roze Stiebra, and new artist Reinis Petersons, are also included.

The program for music lovers called “Receiver of Cinema” is set to go as well, including such masterpieces as “The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Jose Gonzalez,” a film about Swedish singer/song writer Jose Gonzalez. It covers a story about the struggle which is expected to happen with every musician who at least once in their lifetime has managed to do something in order to create music. Another option, more related to traditional ethno-musical genres mixed with contemporary music, is called “La Marimbas el Infierno” (“Marimbas from Hell”) - a life story about Guatemalans who try to survive on the streets by playing marimba. It is interesting how director Julio Hernandez Cordon tries to merge realistic documentary attitude with a strange art-house musical, not knowing a thing about what is going to happen in the end. The audience will be able to judge themselves by picking the show during “Receiver of Cinema.”

The final chapter of the festival is dedicated to a director from the Philippines, Brilante Mendoza, and his “Grandmother,” which is his ninth full-length work covering a story that denies Western cinematic values and offers a different version of how to establish reality in cinema. He, therefore, speaks about a casual and sometimes controversial story about Manila. This and many other movies are shown during Southeast Asia program of “Arsenals” Film Festival, which will be held from Sept. 10 – 18.

For more detailed information about film program, ticket sales and show times visit: