Behind the Talent. A Story about the “Born in Riga” Project

Behind the Talent. A Story about the “Born in Riga” Project
A still from the film / Juris Pīlēns . Directors Dāvis Sīmanis and Peter Maniura in Adriāna Roze’s documentary film “Behind the Talent. Born in Riga”
Una Griškeviča
“Behind the Talent. Born in Riga”, the latest documentary film of Latvian director Adriāna Roze, participates in the international TV festival “Golden Prague” that is taking place from the 5th to 8th of October. The film follows the organisation of the “Riga 2014” concert “Born in Riga” at the Latvian National Opera on the 6th of July, and at the same time attempts to solve the mystery of talent and find the genius loci of Riga. In Latvia, the film and the recording of the concert will have their premiere on Programme 1 of the Latvian State Television (LTV1) on the 18th of October at 10:15 p.m.

Talking to the “Riga 2014” culture portal, Adriāna says that the idea of the film had been suggested by the Ieva Rozentāle, the head of the LTV Culture Editorial Office. “Given that the “Born in Riga” concert was one of the greatest projects and open-air concerts to ever take place in Latvia, Ieva suggested that it would be interesting to record what was happening behind the scenes as the concert was being organised. But just as is the case with most such projects, the idea eventually evolved into something much greater than what we had originally planned. That’s what happened this time, too, as the project developed from a simple behind-the-scenes film into a much deeper and, I believe, interesting documentary,” says the director. The film’s creative team has been following the organisation of the concert since the very start – the organisational meetings, inspections of the place for the concert’s stage, choosing the lighting techniques, the work on the set design.

“Seeing all this major work going in organisation of the concert, I realised that the concert would be so intricate and complex that it began to resemble an enormous mechanism, where every gear had a specific purpose, yet no gear could be absolutely individual as it had to match the other gears. That’s much like a concert or an orchestra performance, where every musician has to be very talented, and at the same time capable of listening to the other musicians in the orchestra.”


That is why, while the concert was being organised – and the process, as Adriāna says smilingly, closely resembled a beehive – she began to ponder about the phenomenon of talent and how a talent is shaped. “Watching the concert’s director Dāvis Sīmanis and BBC’s live broadcast director Peter Maniura try to understand each other and arrive at a perfect formula for the concert, I began to wonder where the talent comes from to organise such a major event, and show talented people – musicians in this case – in the best possible light.” And that, Adriāna smiles, is how the film eventually turned into a search of the formula of an ideal concert and a story of the genius loci of Latvia: “Were these talented people, who all hail from Riga, born here because it is Riga, or for some other reason? That’s why the film is about the relations between Dāvis Sīmanis and Peter Maniura, and presents several talented artists born in Riga, who are popular around the world, and their recollections and versions of how a talent is born.” These include conductor Mariss Jansons, the outstanding cellist Mischa Maisky, ballet choreographer and dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. “As a result, the film is two-dimensional, so to speak,” Adriāna Roze explains.

Have the creators of the film succeeded in solving the mystery of talent, or is it up to the viewers?

“Our internationally-acclaimed stars have their own version of what’s needed for a talent to emerge, Peter Maniura and Dāvis Sīmans also have their own versions. Actually there may be no definitive answer to this question. It is a combination of several factors, and it is not necessarily the place where an artist comes from that has the main role – it is the entire social and political environment, the atmosphere of the moment – imperceptible, but at the same time very important. I, personally, tend to agree with, and find it the most understandable, the factor of the person’s childhood, his or her opportunities to see, and be part of, culture at an early age.

This, again, is important on the national level – whether the government supports culture and shows appreciation for talented people. If support is provided for culture, children, too, can observe this. It prompts them to take more interest in culture and maybe choose to pursue their talents in some of the arts.”


What does Adriāna Roze think about the current support for culture provided by the government in Latvia? “Taking into consideration that our discussion comes shortly before the Saeima elections (we are meeting on Friday, the 3rd of October – ed.), of course, it is nice to see that politicians are finally talking about culture. But there’s no guarantee that these discussions will continue, and be followed by action, on Monday. Certainly, I would like to believe that this will be so.

We are proud in our internationally-renowned stars, but do we support all this enough, are we doing everything we can for new stars to rise?”

Adriāna’s personal experience revolves around film industry, and she admits her foreign colleagues are shocked to learn about the meagre support provided for the film industry by the government. “And yet, there are positive trends that I’m truly happy about – these include the National Film Centre’s activities, also the support for music and arts. I hope that our opinion of these matters will improve in the future,” emphasises the director.

As for the work on the film “Behind the Talent. Born in Riga”, Adriāna Roze says that she did not have time to enjoy the concert because, both during the rehearsal and the gala concert, she was hard at work. “But there was one composition when I stopped to hear it in its entirety, even if I was behind the fence where we were shooting a scene at that moment.

It was Georgs Pelēcis’ “Flowering Jasmine”, performed by “Kremerata Baltica” and the nine-year-old violinist Daniils Bulajevs. It was truly fascinating! I think that all the people around me stopped dead in their tracks, completely enthralled by the charisma of Daniils and the composition. It was really marvellous!”

Speaking about the festival “Golden Prague”, which is where Adriāna Roze and Ieva Rozentāle are at the moment to present the film and the recording of the “Born in Riga” concert, the director of the film proudly says that the festival, dedicated to documentary films about music and dance, and TV broadcasts, is rich in traditions. “It is not just a festival, but also a fair for documentary films and broadcasts. I probably should remind you that the concert has already been broadcast by several European TV companies, and later the recording of the concert was also aired, but at the fair, we will be presenting both the film and the recording, and I believe this to be very prestigious and important.” It needs to be added that Peter Maniura, who oversaw the live broadcast of the concert, also participates in the “Golden Prague” festival to read a lecture, and he, too, will have the opportunity to see Adriāna’s latest documentary. “To me, the fact that the film and the recording of the concert have been included in the festival’s programme is high praise already. There is tough competition, of course, as all the major European broadcasting organisations are here – ARTE, BBC and others, which have brought their films and broadcasts, the budget of which is completely different. But for me it will be very interesting to see what’s on in the industry of dance and music documentary films – it just so happens that this year, that is my second documentary about music and talent.” (The first film was “A Composition for Choir, Piano and Physics”, devoted to the Riga Dom Choir School, the film also explores the theme of choices schoolchildren make between music and something else – business, for instance  – ed.).

This is why Adriāna is very much looking forward to the 8th of October, when awards will be presented to the winning films in the festival’s programme. “It’s very good that any person can see these films at the Prague cinema “Archa Theatre”, also to find out what is happening in Latvian music and art,” says the film director.

Pegged to this story: audio recording of the “Born in Riga” concert


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