Latvia has nominated a movie for the best foreign film competition in next year’s American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards ceremony. This is the ninth time that Latvia has submitted a film for consideration, and this time a panel of experts at the Latvian National Film Centre (NFC) announced the selection at a news conference on September 23. This year’s Latvian entry is the feature film “Ausma” (Dawn), which was directed by Laila Pakalniņa.
Latvian producers submitted four movies for consideration this year, three feature films and one documentary. The feature films are “Es esmu šeit” (Mellow Mud, 2016), directed by Renārs Vimba, “Pelnu sanatorija” (Exiled, 2016) by Dāvis Sīmanis, and Laila Pakalniņa’s “Dawn” (2015). The documentary is “V luchah solnsta” (Under the Sun, 2015), directed by Vitaliy Manskiy. This year the process was particularly intriguing in that all four films have received nominations in Latvia’s national film awards, the Great Kristaps awards, as best picture of the year.
“Ausma” is Pakalniņa’s fifth feature film. It is a Latvian, Polish and Estonian co-production that was supported by the National Film Centre and debuted at the Tallinn Film Festival as a Category A competition entry. That was on November 18, 2015, and the Latvian premiere was on November 23. Last month the European Film Academy (EFA) announced that “Ausma” has been listed as one of the 50 best European full-length feature films of the year. Pictures on the list will be evaluated for nominations for the European Film Academy Awards for achievements in European cinema. “Ausma” is filmed in black-and-white, and it is a visually impressive story of a society with lost values. The movie is set in the not very distant past – the Soviet era, when adults and children alike sacrificed their points of reference on the altar of of ideological principles. Pakalniņa has said that one source of inspiration for her was an unfinished film, “Bezhin Meadow,” which was directed by the legendary director Sergei Eisenstein during the 1930s.
It is worth mentioning that Latvian cinema professionals have been involved in film projects in other countries that have also been submitted for consideration at the Oscars. Lithuanian experts have nominated the Baltic co-production film “Senekos diena” (Seneca’s Day), which was directed by Kristijonas Vildžiūnas and co-produced by the Lokomotīve Studio in Latvia. The Ukrainian entry is the documentary “Ukrainiske Sherifi” (Ukrainian Sheriffs), directed by Roman Bondarchuk, and one of its producers was Uldis Cekulis from the Environmental Film Studio in Latvia.
The 89th American Film Academy Awards ceremony to celebrate the best achievements in the motion picture arts in 2016 will take place in Los Angeles on February 26, 2017. The nominees are scheduled to be announced on January 24, 2017.