Ramin Lomsadze, a 75-year-old Georgian wrestler who once won seven matches in 55 seconds, is getting ready for the fight with his last and most formidable opponent - loneliness. He gets on the train and sets off for a remote Georgian village to seek out the girl he loved and lost fifty years ago.
Klucis. The Deconstruction of an Artist
This film is a deeply personal view on the life of artist Gustav Klucis, one of the foremost representatives of early 20th century Russian avant-garde art, whose life drama reflects the tragedy of a whole nation during the years of Stalin’s repressions. It is a story about boundless ambitions, hope, love and artist’s responsibility that continues haunting him after his death. Gustav Klucis (1895–1938), one of the pioneers and major exponents of constructivism and photo collage, is also one of the most controversial figures in Latvian art. Born in a peasants’ family, he is perhaps the best known Latvian artist in the world. Ironically, the art catalogues and textbooks call him a Russian artist, and in Latvia he is still largely regarded as some sort of a "lost son". Gustav Klucis’s life and artistic career pose many questions still unanswered today. Who was he? A hero or a victim of his own political naivety? An idealist or a conformist? A patriot or a traitor of his homeland? Killed during the Stalin’s purges at the end of the 1930s, his name lives on in art history as one of the classics of Russia’s avant-garde art. This film will endeavour to "decipher" Klucis by using the means of his own artistic thinking.
There is a popular Latvian folksong which begins with the phrase “I was singing out high on a mountain”. The irony of it is that according to physical geography there are no mountains in Latvia. So what’s exactly the place where the Latvians are “singing out”? It may be safely said now that it’s the same place where they are skiing. That’s how we make mountains out of molehills... Snow-covered mountains, to be sure.
This will be a story of a dumpsite – a singularly human kind of formation and a biotope in its own right. In choosing this seemingly unglamorous subject matter we are guided neither by social pathos, nor by “green” missionary zeal. Throughout the implementation of this project we will remain neutral observers, mere visitors from the City, the source of all waste. The dumpsite is viewed by many as some sort of a man-made abscess on the face of Nature. However, the fact that birds, mammals, insects, people and plants have chosen this site as their habitat gives to it some strange kind of legitimacy. If for a human being life in a dumpsite is a heavy fall down the gutter, it’s quite the opposite for non-human species. For them, a dumpsite is an elitist residential area, a Dreamland, with food and warmth secured all year round. True, it has one serious disadvantage – the water found on the dumpsite is not usable for drinking. Every resident of the dumpsite has to find ways of solving this problem. Thirst will form the dramaturgical focal points of the film. We will be able to present the exact cast for the film after a careful selection of the main actors is made. Nevertheless, candidates with the best chances to be selected include the rat, the eagle owl, the man, the beetle and the pumpkin. They would make a perfect ensemble, all of them being intertwined in an existential “life-death” relationship. Approximately a hundred species of birds (one third of the total of Latvia’s bird species) that have been observed on this site could take part in the mass scenes. In winter and fall 7 to 9 thousand seagulls make their presence seen and heard in a most overwhelming way. Pigeons, sparrows and jackdaws will form another body of extras. The Northern goshawk will make a short but dramatic cameo appearance trying to hunt down a seagull. There is also a great selection of mammal candidates to choose from – mice, hedgehogs, foxes, beavers, racoons, martens, roes, not speaking of cats and dogs. In the twilight hours we will hunt together with the long-eared bats, but in midday, when the sun is highest, we will try to monitor the daily chores of some rare beetle. The cricket, settled comfortably inside the heap of waste, makes his song heard all year round. It’s permanent summer in there, like at the foot of a volcano. The analogy of a volcano is valid also because the biogas, formed by the decomposition process, may eventually make the heap explode. We have only two years left for making this film. Due to Latvia’s planned adhesion to the European Union, the last dumpsite in Riga will disappear in 2004.
The Church Will Arrive in the Evening
In the ice-free months of the year, Father Gennady captains a barge transformed into a floating Orthodox Church on a mission trip along the Volga-Don Canal to the remote Russian villages. At each port, Father Gennady leads church services, distributes holy sacraments and listens to confessions. But it all changes when, due to unexpected circumstances, the mission trip suddenly takes a rather different turn.
Home of the Sun
About 400 years before the birth of Crist, near the village of Kali, on the island of Saaremaa, a gaint meteorite hit the Earth. It`s light, sound and force deeply affected people living hundreds of kilometres away. For example, from the Swedish coast it has appeared that the sun was setting in the East. Closest observers thought that the sun had been stolen.
Stuck in Stikine
Five men from Latvia - 2 businessmen, an experienced traveler, a cameraman and their tough guide head out to tame the fastest flowing river in North America, Stikine, hoping to cover 150 miles of Pristine Northern wilderness in just 10 days. But winter sets in; their worst fears are realized, placing them in a survival situation that could cost them their lives.
Three Men and a Fish Pond
Three elderly country bachelors idle away their time amidst the semi-wild nature, closer to birds and fish ponds than to humans.
A reindeer herdsman's life is as gently monotonous as the tundra landscape itself. It flows unhurriedly in synchrony with the life of the reindeer herd from one migration to the other. The whole time span between these two points belongs entirely to the herdsman. It's áigi, the herdsman's time.
The world seen through the eyes of children. The location in Karosta, the former military port of Liepaja city – however it is not that important, as the film could take place anywhere. The central part of the film is given to emotions, simply observing children playing on the beach.
Roof on the Moonway
This will be a vivid story about the relationships between birds and people in city. The film’s main characters are the population of Common Terns, which lives on the printing house roof of the Riga Press Building during Summer. This population is believed to be the largest of its kind in northern Europe. Is it a never-ending struggle or harmony between species, 200 pairs of Terns, or a million inhabitants, who does what to whom? During the film various human attitudes towards the birds will emerge. The attitude of the birds is clear - they view things from above.
The Black Spawn
One of the main spawning sites of the Baltic herring in front of the Latvian-Lithuanian border area is in danger. The frequent oil spills from the Butinge Oil Terminal and the passing tankers kill the algae crucial for the continuation of the species. The sinking of Prestige at the end of 2002 raised the awareness of the problem but much has already been irretrievably lost. Will the traditional fishing villages have to disappear together with the herring?
Jaguar’s CornerIn 1946, a group of Latvian Brazilian Baptist missionaries arrived to Rincon del Tigre ("Jaguar's Corner"), in the backwoods of Bolivia, to preach God's word to the Ayoreo Indians. After sixty years of selfless work in a largely hostile environment, something seems to have gone terribly wrong. Habituated to living under the protective wings of the mission, the Ayoreos seem neither to be willing to support themselves and start living on their own, nor able to return to their traditional way of life in the jungle. Dressed in second-hand clothes, they are stranded in the backwoods of Western-style civilization, with no particular way to go.
In Limbo - sailors stranded ashore
Cases of crews abandoned by their unscrupulous shipowners on rusting cargo ships in ports thousands of miles from home have plagued seafarers from emerging nations for over a decade. In Limbo is the inside story of two such dramatic cases in Brest, France. Why is the port of Brest so prone to such human tragedies? What is being done to protect seafarers? The drama of abandoned crews is told through use of the diary of Captain Vladimir Kostyria as he and fifteen men descend into hell, through the personal insight brought by director Roy Lekus, and by James Smith and Jean-Paul Hellequin, two trade union activists whose spectacular actions in defense of abandoned crews goaded French maritime authorities into action before months turned into years.
Igor (35) is a talented poet and musician. He grew up in the provincial town of Kherson on the coast of the Black Sea. He was 15 when the USSR ceased to exist and he suddenly found himself living in a new country, the independent Ukraine. It was a time of feverish artistic activity and freedom but it didn’t last for long. Igor’s rebellious, nonconformist ways and beliefs that made him a misfit in the Soviet system, proved to be an obstacle to a successful career in the independent but culturally provincial Ukraine as well. More than a year ago he moved to Moscow, and since then he has been restlessly searching for his true place as an artist in the complicated post-Soviet world. Today he lives between three cities. In Moscow he leads a truly bohemian life: performances, admirers, parties, expensive alcohol and soft drugs – all the usual ‘components of success’. When he gets tired of the hectic life in the capital, he goes back to his family in Kyiv, but his heart really belongs to his native Kherson. Having proclaimed itself independent, culturally Ukraine is still looking back at Moscow and unconditionally accepts only those artists who have won success in the capital of the former empire. His old buddies in Kherson have ‘surrendered’ – they have normal jobs, they have not abandoned the town, they have not become famous. At the same time, they have much more vitality, power and creativity than all his cronies in Kyiv and Moscow. They are creating art. Upon his leaving for Moscow, Igor was dreaming of returning to his homeland as a famous musician, of creating new, free art and of earning recognition for his country. But today the political situation in Ukraine is changing radically. The current administration has chosen to follow the lead of Moscow; many reforms are made under the dictate of Russia which is very far from being a democratic state. The word 'independence' itself for many Russia-oriented politicians sounds like a curse word. Professionals and artists in their masses are leaving the country in search for a better life abroad. Meanwhile, Ukraine is getting ready to host the European football championship this year, trying to project to the world a self-image of a country that is progressive and ‘European’ in every sense of the word. But the thin, deceptive makeup of superficial glamour can’t but betray Ukraine’s deep-rooted uncertainty of its own place and identity in the modern world. In this sense, Igor is just a mirror image of his home country. Will he succeed in finding the firm bedrock on which to build his artistic career as well as his private life? Will he succeed in winning recognition as an artist without losing his personal integrity?
Flying Monks Temple
A dreamer by nature, Quanqi Zhu decides to set up a unique installation at the foot of the famous Song Shan Mountain. Despite the language and cultural barrier, his best companion is Latvian Architecht Austris Mailitis. Will thte newly-built Shaolin flying Monks Temple be able to justify its name?
Sheriffs of Stara Zburyevka
There is no district police officer in the village of Stara Zburyevka in southern Ukraine. He lives in a neighboring village more than 20 kilometres away. Whatever happens in Stara Zburyevka, there is no use waiting for the police – they just don't come if you call them. The villagers have chosen two men, the smartest and the strongest among their own midst, to take care of public order in the village. They have given them power, a car, shiny tokens and named them "Sheriffs". Their detective stories are sometimes wild, sometimes violent, sometimes funny, but, according to the village community, their actions are always fair. On the example of their story, we want to show how ordinary Ukrainians are creating their own self-help structures, separate from the state to ensure their own protection and security.