Beginnings of Latvian Experimental Film
Over the past few years, many small-format films and material made by amateur filmmakers of Soviet Latvia have found their home in the Baltic Analog Lab. Recovered reels of anything but the standard 35mm cinema format have been shown in our experimental and amateur film screenings in their original 16mm or 8mm formats - often with integrated live performances. In 2021 we had the chance to finally archive and digitalise them systematically.
During this project, to find films that belong to the still much too obscure history of the Latvian underground cinema, we have researched both our own and other filmmakers collections, as well as those of Latvian State Archive of Audio-visual Documents, Riga Film Museum and other institutions. In order to shed some light on that history, we have put together two programmes of plentiful remarkable works that could be seen in their original 16mm or 8mm formats at the K. Suns Cinema — a theatre led by two wonderful amateur movement veterans Aida Zviedre and Juris Zviedris —, with some of the authors and their friends taking part and sharing their stories. On a more structured note, Inese Strupule, a researcher specializing in Latvian amateur cinema shared her knowledge of the subject matter by leading an online lecture about the beginnings of Latvian experimental film and its close ties with the Soviet
state-organized amateur cinema movement, which can be watched here:
In collaboration with the Latvian State Archive of Audio-visual Documents, we have gathered some of the most interesting, revealing or in other ways important finds that we have come upon during this expedition through movement and time. This collection reflects films that are made during the 1970s to the early ’90s and are made by a rather diverse crowd: life-long proud film amateurs working either individually or in an amateur film studio; leaders of such studios; enthusiasts later turned professional filmmakers; visual artists; photographers; musicians; performers; a turner; a forester; a younger mother. Altogether they create a glimpse of the peculiar nature of the often overlooked Soviet, particularly Latvian, "small" or personal cinema.
The project is supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation, programme Kultūrelpa.