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Two feature films – “Janvāris” and “Mīlulis” – both starring Kārli Arnold Avota in the lead roles, will premiere in the autumn marathon of Latvian films. The actor from the Theater of Fine Arts created two different characters with different ambitions, dreams and needs.
In November, director Viesturs Kairiš’s feature film “January” will appear on the screens, a very personal story about the month of the barricades in 1991, when the fate of the independence of the Baltic states was decided and the main character of the film, Jazis, took a camera to release its freedom from the prolonged cage.
But immediately, tomorrow, 21 September, the premiere of director Stanislav Tokalov’s relational drama “Mīulis” will take place – the story of a young and ambitious careerist, the future bankruptcy trustee Matīs – a darling of society, who does not know or does not know how Do. to form meaningful relationships with other people based on true love. After the tragic death of his girlfriend in a car accident, Matís is forced to take responsibility for his multimillion-dollar property and ten-year-old daughter Paula. What is more important – career, power, and money or human relationships – this is the dilemma of today’s 30-year-olds. The film’s authors believe that under the conditions of “ruthless capitalism” an entire generation of “lovers” with similar choices and attitudes towards life has grown up in Latvia.
Karl, have you seen the new films yet?
Source CA: Yes, I saw “Mīluli” in the “Bize” cinema, director Stanislavs Tokalovs invited me to the first editing version, then to the second and third. Then I went to New York, I saw “January” at the American premiere. We won the foreign film competition at the Tribeca Film Festival.
How was “Janvāri” perceived in America, where the time of the barricades does not have the same sting of memories as in Latvia?
The war right here in our neighborhood in Ukraine and its impact on the whole world, including America, allows us to understand the context more clearly and helps to feel the emotional background of that time in a much more tangible way. Several film experts have appreciated both the idea of the film and its dreamy manner, and the cinematic language and romance it contains. Indeed, it was a very romantic idea to become a director in the Soviet Union. It is extremely disturbing to see how the viewer breathes along with the events and what they mean to him. You are already trying to be as open as possible, honest, intimate in front of the camera. And then you see: the audience likes your performance or not, someone gets bored and picks up the phone, someone else sheds a tear, someone else laughs. It’s extremely touching, especially for a young actor as sensitive as a dog (laughs). But in general, I have received a lot of compliments in America.
The action of “Janvārī” takes place in 1991, at the barricades, in the struggle for the independence of Latvia. On the other hand, “Mīlulis”, which takes place in 2016, is the story of the generation born after 1990 and raised in free Latvia. Can’t “Mīluli” be considered a continuation of “Janvāras” in a sense?
A very nice thought, maybe someone could perceive both films in a certain way. The hero of the movie “Lover” is already a fruit of capitalism with completely different values from those that stood on the barricades, and I don’t know if the struggles of 1991 mean anything to Matis. I think they would be completely incomprehensible to him, perhaps he would also prefer to laugh at the people who were on the barricades thirty years ago. They don’t touch it. Mattis has his things to do and his way of thinking, which is dominated by speculation about how to take advantage of the shortcomings of our independent country, how to use the “holes” of the law to his advantage …
The film’s creative team talks about the “lovers” generation. What causes people born after 1990 to be called that and do you agree with this designation?
Looking at my peers, it seems to me that we – me and perhaps the bubble around me – are a much more ostentatious generation than the previous one and, at the expense of this, we often rob ourselves of time for thoughts and conclusions. Smart devices are constantly in front of you, the most abnormal floods of information, heightened emotional videos, where it is easy to waste time and sometimes yourself, but even being aware of this, there is a kind of fear effect of leaving everything. it passes, and the hand reaches out to consume it all continuously. Even the external visual image – huge logos on clothes, same hairstyles, I see less authentic identities. Appearance and desire to please. We have everything at our fingertips: we can study where we want, we can take out a loan and buy what we want, we can live as we want. “Lover” is intended as both a compliment and a kind of irony. Writer Guy Maupassant has a novel “The Lover” in which the writer talks about how far a hard heart, a beautiful smile and great ambitions can go using others. This is also our story. The treasure of society plays with people’s trust, the conscience itself is silent, the heart does not hear, but the mind is inclined to the material world: home, money, power … Such mercantile goals. The Saeima elections are approaching and a sufficient number of “lovers” are in the running for one hundred seats. Unfortunately, sometimes all it takes is good clothes, good manners and some “smart, popular” thought to charm … But we can guess what consequences it will leave if you don’t delve into loud slogans and cover them up.
Can you spot the episode of the movie where you find your character’s behavior less attractive?
When Mathis decides to give as a gift, you essentially sell a young, innocent and kindhearted child. I come from a family where foster siblings were around me when I was growing up. I know what an orphanage means. It was extremely difficult to justify Matis’s decision within oneself. But over the course of the film, you’ll have to experience other milestones as well.
The film’s special visual aesthetic was created by Romanian cinematographer Olegs Mutu, whose performance was rated by the Cannes Film Festival.
I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. Stasis (director Stanislavs Tokalovs) boldly approached the Romanian cameraman. And he agreed. Mutu also liked the idea of the movie “Lover”. The master of Romanian cinema has now become one of my teachers, because next to him I learned to feel the camera, to “live” in front of him and in the eyes of the director.
The script, the directors’ wishes, but where else did you find inspiration for the characters?
For me, the most important part of working with a role is the research phase. Even now, in the film I planned the famous basketball player Ulyan Semyonov, who is still in the works and who we have not started shooting (Karlis Arnolds Avots is both the author of the idea, and the screenwriter and actor of the film – VK), I have already felt how the character should live, how the story should turn out.I always try to meet real people with the experiences, real stories inherent in the character of the film and I’m not afraid to get close to them. It fills me with images, paintings for further use. In January, a strong starting point was the personality of director Juris Podnieks and Tatjana Fasta’s book “Juris Podnieks. Is it easy to be an idol?”. I also spoke to musician Igor Ling, whose footage was also used in Podnieka’s film “Is it easy to be young?”. Igor Linga told what it meant to be a cinema amateur at that time. He too, as in the movie Yazim, had to serve in the Soviet army. Linga told what the methods of escape were and how risky they were. My father was also a member of the barricades. I watched all the films and materials from the Zigurdas Vidiņas video archive, and at home Jura Podnieks’ films were on the circuit. All this to understand the breath of that time, because at that time I was not yet born (Kārlis Arnolds Avots was born in 1996. – VK). It’s like getting into history a little bit, but I’m not afraid. Music also helps me a lot, somehow it works directly on the level of feelings. During “January” I listened a lot to the group “Joy Division”, our “Aurora” and others. Viesturs Kairis sent me “Man of Iron” by Andrzej Vaida, “Man of Marble” …
Speaking of “Mīluli”, I met Aldi Gobzem as a trustee in bankruptcy. The conversation helped shape my character by providing essential information about the craft. Thank you for welcoming Kaspars Novicāns, I have visited his law firm twice. I called Māris Sprūdas and there was also an interesting communication. Short but precious. Sometimes even a single text message can have a powerful enough impact and leave its mark on a character.
What will be the acting roles of the new season in Daile?
On Sunday 18 September the show “Farinelli and the King” directed by Viestura Kairis premiered, where I played the theater manager John Rich and at the same time, together with my classmates from the Puppet Theater, I also drove a horse – a huge doll the size of a real horse. A great challenge, physically difficult, but it seems that the show will not leave people indifferent. I suspect that after the show is removed from the repertoire, the parents will invite us and the horse to the children’s birthday parties (laughs). Subsequently, there will be a role in “Branda”, also directed by Viesturs Kairis. Brand, as you already know, will be played by Ieva Segliņa and I will play Agnes. No, don’t get me wrong, I’m not playing a woman, the character will be called Agnus.
And I will also have a role in Gogol’s “The Wedding”, directed by my acting teacher Mihail Gruzdov. I also saw Gruzdov’s first performance of “The Wedding”, an excellent show, one of the director’s best productions. I wasn’t even born when it was recorded, but I saw the recording, very sandy, when you have to put a friend to your ear to hear what the actors are saying (laughs), but that was enough for a strong impression.
At the theater, you are in the same dressing room as the legendary Juri Strenga. Did you learn something valuable from him about Brand?
Strenga will also play in this “Brand”. But yeah, if Juris isn’t Brands right now, then who could it be? There is intrigue, surprise! In any case, I am happy for the opportunity to work with Strenga on “Brand”, where this legendary stage artist was once canon.
Why do you have two names: Kārlis Arnolds?
The father chose names for the children. The mother allowed, but one of the three children of the family also wanted to give her a name. She loved Arnold. But Kārlis in honor of his great-grandfather Kārlis Alfred Avotas. He protected Ulman during the first independent state of Latvia, he was in the organization of the Guardians, for which he was sent to Vyatlag, where he died in a death camp. The Guards were an organization similar to the current National Guard, to which I was also sworn in.