Every day, come rain or shine, Theodore used to bike the seven kilometres from his house to the village centre to sit and drink beer in the bus stop. For him, no doubt, this place was the centre of the Universe. With his death, the centre has moved elsewhere, and the bus stop is just a bus stop again.
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.
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.
The Bus The Tallinn-Kaliningrad bus crosses three borders during one night: Estonian-Latvian, Latvian-Lithuanian, and Lithuanian Russian. It drives on the territories of four countries. Its passengers need to use four different currencies to pay for toilets or buy sandwiches during the journey. The film analizes the peculiar nature of this situation. During the Soviet times there were no borderguards on this route. And now, when the three Baltic States have joined the EU, history has turned again. “In the bus you exist in different dimensions of the time. The real time is actual for the travel (departure, arrival). Than there is the time of bus – hour in the bus is different from time outside of the bus. As well you have time of your dreams. And you live in the time of history. The running time of the film is short compared to the way from Tallinn to Kaliningrad. What we tried to do is reaching some synchronism of subjective time of bus, people, history.” The reason for making the film is the peculiar nature of this situation. During the Soviet times there were no border guards on this route. Since the three Baltic States have joined the EU, history has changed also. The bus is not just a space on wheels moving through another space, the bus is a short-term home for the representatives of different nations and different social strata.
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.
The city is as it is. There needs to be a serious reason in order to ask an urban person to stop and be calm in front of the camera for a moment. This time Mozart serves as the reason.
Morning starts with the mail. That's customary. Let's have a look at habitual things, habitual movements, habitual life. The Mail (PASTS) official selection CANNES ’96
A ferry between Druja (Belorus) and Piedruja (Latvia) connected two parts of one community. People went to and fro. Now there is a border between two independent states, but no border crossing is contemplated here, complete with customs inspection and passport control. What happens when the ferry no longer crosses the water? Nothing. Nobody here could imagine that.
The reconstruction of the church of Stolerova; all the inhabitants of the village pitch in because until then the religious functions had been held in the belfry, the only part of the ancient wooden building that hadn’t been destroyed by a fire in 1968. After great difficulty, the church had been built two centuries earlier, during a time when religion was heavily controlled by the Russian orthodoxy, which prohibited the use of stone as a building material. “It sometime happens – you suddenly understand: here is film. And that happens in small village Stolerova when I saw old women bilding the church. There was everything for film and for life. And everything so strong.”
Christmas preparations in a Latvian home. Excitement is in the air and the atmosphere is almost magical. As the mother prepares the holiday biscuits, the father gets the tree ready to be decorated and the children watch on and participate in the celebrations. “It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. When Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union and up until 1990, Christmas was banned. We weren’t allowed to sing Christmas carols, there were no Christmas cards, and there weren’t even Christmas holidays. If there was some kind of holiday celebration, it had to be in a strictly private form among small groups of families. When Latvia became independent, we shot this film about little Anna’s first Christmas and the magic of a Christmas spent at home. Now, as I watch it again, I realize that I could make another film because, except for a few details, almost nothing has remained the same, and not just because the children have grown up and the adults have become older.”
On Rubik's Road
If the entire world can be reflected in a single drop of dew (and it can!), then why couldn’t it fit onto a single bicycle road in Latvia? A film about a world that walks, runs, crawls, sits, rides, flies. And falls. A world alive.
33 Animals of Santa Claus
Santa Claus lives on the 4th floor of an apartment house. Santa owns 7 dogs, 6 cats, 2 rabbits, 1 crow, 1 pigeon, 1 chinchilla, 1 guinea pig, 10 degus and some fish.
As soon as I finished a marathon in May of 2011, I wanted to become a tripod. In order to make the film I not only ran hundreds of kilometres with a camera attached to my head, I also run two official marathons in order to run the third, the easiest one, as they said during shooting. However, it turned out that the film will not be about my easiest marathon, because the easiest was my second. But who knows - maybe the more dificucult it is for me the better for my film.
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