Berlin and Eisenstein Return to Riga. Premiere of Dāvis Sīmanis’ Film

Berlin and Eisenstein Return to Riga. Premiere of Dāvis Sīmanis’ Film
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Director Dāvis Sīmanis’ film “Escaping Riga” will have its premiere at the “Splendid Palace” cinema on the 1st of April. The film was shot at the “Mistrus Media” studio, it is part of the “Riga 2014” Programme.

The film is based on true events, it tells the stories of two outstanding personalities of the 20th century – Sergei Eisenstein and Isaiah Berlin, who were both born and spent their childhood in Riga but soon had to leave the city. The film follows the lives of the two characters during the turbulent first half of the 20th century, telling how one of them becomes “the greatest film director of his generation” in the totalitarian Soviet Union, and the other “the greatest thinker of his generation” in liberal Great Britain.

The film presents various situations in the lives of both characters that are based on historical facts but may be unknown to the general public. The film may be loosely described as a drama documentary, where the visual styling strives to meet the aesthetics of cinema during said period.

The events shown in the film cover an extensive geographical and chronological area, from Paris in 1905 and Hollywood at the beginning of the 1930s to the post-war Leningrad and London. Many historic personalities appear in the film. “At first glance the film may seem to have been very easy to make, kind of an animated historical play, but in reality it was the collaboration of a large number of people. Camera operators had the complex task of making the scenes seem authentic, whereas actors, most of whom are my friends or acquaintances, had to not just be in shot, but try to be “historical” and physically resemble their prototypes from the past. This kind of striving for portraying the past as truthfully as possible sometimes resulted in peculiar misunderstandings. For example, an elderly lady was very concerned why no ambulance had been called when the Siege of Leningrad was being shot - “We have to help the casualties”,” says film director Dāvis Sīmanis.

 

Speaking of the participants in shooting the film, the director says he is very grateful to every one of them, especially the volunteers who sometimes had to crank up their courage when crowd scenes were shot, acting as students, Nazis or even corpses.

Dāvis Sīmanis also notes: “The period of time we tried to dramatize and reconstruct is similar to the present time. You don’t have to look far to find the same kind of totalitarian aggression, disinterested authorities, and persecution of cultural personalities, so characteristic of the time when our characters were living.”

However, the film’s producer Gints Grūbe emphasises that “the film is not just a grim witness to history. It also finds the funny and unusual in the past, and is able to emotionally appeal to the viewer.”

The film will be screened at the “Splendid Palace” cinema from the 2nd of April. It was created with support from the National Film Centre, State Culture Capital Foundation, Riga City Council and “Riga 2014”.

Starring in the film are Mihails Karasikovs, Mārtiņš Počs, Gints Grūbe, Viktors Puglejevs, Gustavs Briedis.

Screenplay by Dāvis Sīmanis and Uldis Tīrons; Director - Dāvis Sīmanis; Director of Photography - Andrejs Rudzāts; Camera Operators - Valdis Celmiņš and Dāvis Sīmanis; set design - Kristīne Plūksna-Zvagule and Ieva Romanova; Composer - Kārlis Auzāns; Director of Audiography - Ernests Ansons; Editors - Dāvis Sīmanis and Andra Doršs; Producers - Gints Grūbe and Līga Gaisa.

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