National Archives of Latvia from September 15, opens the project “Parallel Cinema”, dedicated to the history and films of Latvian amateur cinemas.
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As “Delfi” informs the representative of the Latvian National Archives Sanita Grīna, in the digital repository of the archive www.redzidzirdilatviju.lv New document collections are available, allowing everyone to watch a selection of animated films, documentaries and feature films made by amateur filmmakers and to study documents about this part of Latvia’s film heritage and the people who created it.
According to Green, the fund of the Latvian Amateur Cinema Association kept in the Latvian State Archive of Film and Photophono Documents of the National Archives of Latvia includes more than 600 short films, animations and feature films. This unique collection is a little-studied and unknown part of the history of Latvian cinema, which surprises with its content diversity and richness of cinematic language: from humorous and laconic expressive animated films, poetic and socially critical documentaries to many bold experiments in the feature film genre. The films were made between 1960 and 1990.
Within the framework of the project “Parallel Cinema”, it will be possible to watch a selection of digitized amateur films online in the digital repository “See, hear Latvia!”. It will also be possible to get acquainted with film magazines, photographs, posters and other documents related to the history of the amateur film movement from the Latvian National Archives, the Riga Film Museum, the VEF History Museum collections and private film archives.
Collection of historical documents in the digital repository “See, hear Latvia!” will be available from 15 September, but the film collections will be published on 28 September (animated films), 6 October (feature films) and 20 October (documentaries).
The film collections will be complemented by video interviews with former members of the amateur film movement, some of which are still active in the Latvian film industry, including director Regīna Šulcas, director and cinematographer Zigurdas Vidiņš, director and cinematographer Romantu , TV operator and RISEBA lecturer Jānis Rēdlihs, directors Daila Rothbach, producers Bruno Aščukas and Uldis Cekuls and others.
The project “Parallel Cinema” is also complemented by a series of research articles on the portal “Kinoraksti”, in which the phenomenon of amateur cinema is viewed from the perspective of cinema history and theory. Film scientist dr. Inese Strupule writes about films made by Latvian amateur filmmakers: “Amateur cinema in Soviet Latvia developed as an alternative to the official cinema culture of the USSR and Soviet Latvia and served as a kind of national cinema surrogate in the Soviet era. interpretations of historical events, documents various little-known aspects of the daily life of Soviet Latvia and generally enriches the cinematographic heritage of the region. “
On October 27 – World Audiovisual Heritage Day – a special screening of amateur cinema films and a discussion about the place and significance of the movement in the history of Latvian cinema will take place at the cinema “Kino Bize”, which will also be available online. For more information on the event, Green invites you to follow the “Facebook” page of the Latvian National Archives.
According to the representative of the archive, amateur films stored in the archives make up only a small part of the cinematographic works created during the existence of the amateur movement, therefore the archive invites other former cinematographers or family members to supplement this part of Latvian film heritage, to preserve them for the future and make them available to researchers.
The Latvian Amateur Cinema Association (LKAB) existed and was active from 1963 to the 1990s, when the activities of the organized amateur cinema network waned. The first leader of the association was director Alois Brenc, later it was led by Raimonds Jostsons. Director Ivars Kraulītis, who is known as the author of the film “White Bells” included in the Latvian cultural canon, also took an active part in the educational work of LKAB.
In its heyday, LKAB brought together several thousand film enthusiasts throughout Latvia. Among the authors of amateur cinema were people of all ages and professions – cultural workers, university lecturers, students, workers, engineers, doctors, scientists, collective farmers, etc., who were involved in filmmaking in their free time, acquiring the necessary skills in an informal way courses taught and experience sharing. Hundreds of short films in 16 mm and 8 mm cinema formats were created every year in amateur film groups that existed under the auspices of factories, collective farms, culture houses and other institutions.
“Amateur films are not a” home chronicle “, as it might seem at first glance. These films offer a first-hand view of Soviet everyday life and human experience, lack the sparkling humor and imagination to carry out what is being done effectively with limited resources. In time, amateur cinema became a fertile environment for experiments.
“Amateur films are a valuable source of cultural and historical material for researchers and students in various fields, not only in the history of cinema and Soviet culture, but also in other fields such as ethnography, architecture, agriculture, industry, technology and transport,” Green.