Film director Rolands Kalniņš / Diena has passed away

The 100th anniversary of the master was celebrated with an honorary screening at the cinema Splendid Palace and new movies Older than a hundred years premiere, with the introduction of Rolands Kalniņš’s film collection on the portal and many publications and broadcasts in various media, honoring the invaluable contribution of Latvia’s oldest film director to the history of Latvian cinema and culture.

Film director Rolands Kalniņš was born on May 7, 1922 (in other sources and documents – on May 9) in the family of a civil servant in Vecslabada, Istra Parish, Ludza District. Studied at Riga Secondary School No. 1 (1937-40), worked in the port, took out bread, was a deportee in the newspaper Jaunākās Ziņas and Armija economic store (later a department store, now Gallery Center), as well as a freelance sports journalist in newspapers Soviet Latvia and Fight, because he did a lot of athletics and basketball, and the interest in sports was later heard in several feature films by Rolands Kalniņš.

He was an inspector of the Theater Department of the Art Department (1945-46), during which time he developed interest and knowledge about the world of culture. From 1947 he worked in the Riga film studio, acquired the profession of a film director in practical work – first he was an assistant director in the first Soviet Latvian feature film Home with victory (1947), later worked as a second director in the films of other colleagues – Julia Raizman Rainis (1949), Pavel Armand and Leonid Leiman Frost in the spring (1955), As the swans go white clouds (1957), Nauris (1957), The story of a Latvian rifleman (1958) u. c.

Rolands Kalniņš has made his feature film debut Ilze (1959), co-directed the film Storm (1960), made a television short film Underground (1963). Due to ideological motives, several of Kalniņš’s works are partially isolated from the cinema process – film I remember everything, Richard! (1966), which tells about the fate of Latvian legionnaires in the Second World War, was reassembled due to the intervention of censorship, only 20 years later it was shown under the name given by the author Stone and rubble (restored in 2020). Also a movie Four white shirts (1967, restored in 2017) was forced to accept the name during the Soviet era Take a deep breath … and became available to a wider audience only in 1986, its central theme being the methodical destruction of a peculiar creative personality. And the movie Seaside climate (1974) banned already in the production process, only 870 m (40 minutes) of working material remains (restored in 2017).

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In the movie Ceplis (1972, restored 2017) Rolands Kalnins masterfully combines elements of farce, irony and psychological drama in a tape dedicated to the problems of sports life The Knight of the Queen (1970) merged documentary with staging. The persuasive image of Riga in the 1930s was created in the film by laconic means The rocky road (1983, restored 2019). Other feature films: Three days for reflection (1980), The game will happen anyway (1985), If we endure all this (1987), Tapers (1989). After a long break, Rolands Kalniņš returned to directing films at the age of about 80 Bitter wine (2007).

Made a documentary about actress Vija Artmani – Conversation with the queen (1980, refurbished 2018, Kristaps the Great prize), a documentary video The Eternal Faust (1999), several more documentaries and videos. Film studios Three founder and director (since 1989), feature films produced in the studio Human child (1991, Jānis Streičs), Nest (1995, Aivars Freimanis), documentary films by Tālivalža Margēvičs about Jānis Pujāts, Jānis Stradiņš, Pēteris Vasks, Uldis Brauns documentaries Goodbye, XX century! (2005). A video film about Rolandas Kalniņš was made in a cycle A century of cinema in Latvia (1999). Officer of the Order of the Three Stars (1998), lifelong scholarship holder of the State Culture Capital Foundation. In 2005 he received the National Film Festival Kristaps the Great Lifetime Achievement Award in Cinema.

With feature films Ceplis the restored version premiered in the cinema Splendid Palace In May 2017, the 95th anniversary of director Rolands Kalniņš was celebrated, and a year later his feature film Four white shirts The Cannes Film Festival has chosen it for its world cinema history excellence program Cannes Classics; The director also went to Cannes in May 2018 with the cinematographer Mika Zvirbuli and participated in the screening of the film. At the same time in Riga came out to supply Neputns published book Rolands Kalniņš’s roomcreated by a team of authors – Dita Rietuma, Daira Āboliņa, Aija Rozenšteine, Ieva Pitruka, Toms Zariņš, Zane Balčus, Jūlija Dibovska, Kristīne Matīsa, photo editor Agnese Zeltiņa.

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In May 2022, Rolands Kalniņš’s 100th birthday was celebrated for several days – already on May 4 in the cinema Splendid Palace The Latvian Film Marathon of the National Cinema Center started with an Honorary Screening and the premiere of a documentary short film Older than a hundred years, which Rolands Kalniņš has been honored by an unusual creative team (screenwriter Daira Āboliņa, director Agita Cāne, cameraman Andrejs Rudzāts, producer Matīss Kaža). Exactly on Rolands Kalniņš’s 100th birthday on the NKC portal a collection of all his films was published – 23 digitized and restored feature films and documentaries, including a documentary from Dzintra Geka from the cycle The century of cinema in Latvia (1999).

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