A spring-till-winter lasting story about people in rural Latvia at the time whan country was entering the European Union. Film „In the Shade of the Oak Tree” is a contemplation on the present situation of peasants’ life, a story of rural Latvia at the time of entering the European Union, told by six locals. These people – biological fermers, a newcomer German peasant, soy bean enthusiasts, the head of a rural parish – represent different attitudes towards life and farming, sometimes irrational, offbeat and even mystical. Their stories converge in a visually appealing style, and meld together as the final part of director’s film trilogy, now covering thirty years of rural life in Latvia.
The title of the film seems to promise its audience that they will be bathing in the sun. And, indeed, Salacgriva, where the film has been made, is a heaven of peace and prosperity when compared to other towns of Latvia. Here, two large canneries, "Brivais Vilnis" and "Salacgriva - 95", are operating and developing rapidly, there is no unemployment, the apartments have heating, the culture and sports facilities are active. The small fish - the sprat and the Baltic pilchard, are processed into millions of cans that provide subsistence for the whole region. The film, however, is not about the sea and the fish alone. It is about the people whose character strength, persistence, and stamina have made this affluent life possible. But firm characters are those weathered in strong wind. The eventless life of Salacgr?va is but an illusion. And the leeward side promised in the title of the film, can be deceitful...
A horse cart drives though Kurzeme, the Western region of Latvia. Four elderly women bring along a sizable sculpture of crocodile to erect a monument for their mate Arvids Blumentals at the ruins of his former farm. 50 years have passed since the German army surrendered in the in the historical stronghold of Kurzeme. Yet only recently the Russian troops have been withdrawn from Latvia. The nation has been ravaged and scattered all over the world. The veteran of Kurzeme battles the legionaire Arvids Blumentals is a crocodile hunter in Australia now, TV reporters have nicknamed him Crocodile Harry ( he is also prototype for the adventure film "Crocodile Dundee" ). While the monument is taken though Kurzeme, today’s scenes overlap with reminiscences, the fates of people met on the way are portrayed alongside with reflections of Crocodile Harry in his home place – the Australian desert. The Soviet army early warning radar station in Skrunda is blown up, the East – West oil route across the soldier’s graves. Is the war finally over in Latvia too? The film expresses concerns for the survival of the nation, it shows the enormous damage inflicted by the Soviet occupation and it speaks of persistence that history demands again from the Latvian nation. The film’s musical score is based on the song "A White Rose Fades by the Garden Edge" which tells about the unrequited love of soldiers’ girl friends.
Come Down, Pale Moon!
Being a peasant is not a profession, it is a mode of life, the only acceptable one for most Latvians. How does a Latvian peasant feel having regained his land after 50 years of the Soviet rule? What is his inheritance from times of the collective farms and what are grandfathers did? The film was made in 1993 in Latvia Vidzeme region at a time both difficult and decisive for the peasants. The cycle of a peasant’s life from spring tillautumn gives extensive food for thought and leads to many conclusions.
Eduard Shevarnadze. From Past to Future.
Eduard Shevardnadze’s ascent to world renown has been long: from communist leader of Soviet Georgia to USSR foreignn Minister to Chairman of the State Council of independent Georgia. A candid and serious lookat the many facets of Mr Shevardnadze’s fascinating career and life. It features interviews with fellow-thinkers and political opponents, family and friends. Eduard Shevardnadze is a charming person, as well as a keen politican.
Wanted: A Man
A portrait of the male Latvian population of today and a psychological study of the image that the women from Latvia have of these men.
The Crossroad Street
The expectations and worries, the joy and the grief of the residents of a small street in Riga, far away from the town centre, make up the subject of Seletskis' film The Crossroad. The street is a microcosm, where the people are swayed back and forth between customs of a new era and the old familiar country habits. The Crossroad is a human film, intertwined with daily events such as meetings, discussions, and partings. With a trace of humour and poetry, it offers a refreshing outlook on the Soviet civilian's life.
New Times at Crossroad Street
In his film Crossroad Street from 1988, Tálivaldis Margévics followed the daily lives of the inhabitants of an 800-metre long street in the suburbs of Riga, the Latvian capital. Ten years later, he went back to see what had become of these people. A slightly ironical voice-over tells us about their experiences and the latest gossip: the orphan girl Daiga now has a family to take care of, but rumour has it that her friend is having a mistress on the sly. Toliks is still suffering from the mysterious disease he contracted in Siberia, and as of old the somewhat overbearing Olga makes pots full of horseradish juice every day. Liquor is sold through a sawed-out hole in a fence. A new element is the train that has been dumped in the middle of the street. Every day, the people have to crawl underneath it to get to the store. The talk of the day concerns the crows, that for unclear reasons attack everybody who passes by. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Latvia became a little more prosperous, which has not done the local casino owner any harm. Unlike the documentary filmmaker, he does have an explicit opinion about the sober life of the people living on Crossroad Street: ‘They dig in the earth a little, everybody has something to do, but they should set themselves higher goals.‘ The director thinks that Crossroad Street is rather the palm of Latvia, where you can discover the life lines and destination of the entire country.