Finally! Didzis Eglītis about the First Latvian 3D Film
Then the European Capital of Culture year came. The object “Luminatori”, created for the 2012 festival of light “Staro Rīga”, was the first step, Didzis Eglītis then applied for participation in the “Sensation Containers” project, and since January 2014 he has been a member of the team working on the “Riga-2041” film. “It just so happened that I had been knocking on all sorts of doors for five years, and then someone knocked at my door,” the director says with a laugh.
The first 3D film in the history of Latvian cinema has been created by four young film directors from Europe, who saw stereoscopic 3D format as a new step forward in their creative development.
Didzis is the “element” that keeps together the three short films that “Riga-2041” is composed of. The film is about the future Riga – the capital city of Latvia in 2041. It had its premiere on the 29th of December, which symbolically marked the close of the film month in the “Riga 2014” Programme, where the main events – the Riga International Film Festival and European Film Awards Ceremony – had been taking place at the beginning of December.
The film falls in the sci-fi genre that is yet largely underdeveloped in Latvia. The other participants in the creation of “Riga-2041” were film director Triin Ruumet (Estonia), Adina Istrate (Romania) and Kārlis Vītols (Latvia). The film was produced by Astra Zoldnere. The shooting of the film was organised by the virtual studio “Urga”.
“Riga-2041” combines several short stories about people’s quest for happiness. The film is set in a city overtaken by the cult of happiness. There are advertisements and commercials promoting various inventions and technologies that can solve any person’s problems. They feature people who change their appearance forever, alter the memories of their first love, projections replace real people, “doctors of happiness” are in great demand. Whether happiness will be found in technological solutions in the future, or people will still follow the ancient belief that they should be the architects of their own happiness, is up for every viewer to decide.
“Riga-2041” is made up of three storylines that seem to be independent of each other. Didzis Eglītis had to create a pair for each of them – a short film, or a fictitious commercial, that would advertise a product or service which, in turn, would influence the fates of the characters in the “big” films.
“In shooting the films, we followed a certain style, there were common elements that we had agreed on beforehand with the other directors. 2041 is an interesting time – laws have been passed stipulating that people not only have the right to, they must be happy. And that’s where it all begins...! But there is a happy end,” says the director.
“Before we started shooting the film, before the scenario even, we built an information grid of what the future Riga of 2041 could be like.
Will cars fly? No, they will not. Will there be interplanetary flights? Quite possibly, yes. Do any of the old neighbourhoods exist? Has everything been wiped off the earth? Also, what are the social strata – has the gap between the rich and poor grown bigger, or have they merged? A long and detailed description of Riga was made that is not seen in the film, but it is the canon that every director had to follow. It was very important to me, as there had to be a foreword to every film – a commercial that would determine the film’s storyline. And I could not even name this product or service – in fact, I had to sell a pig in a poke.”
Didzis is satisfied with the result. If the project were not “for real”, he would not have even participated in it. “I was happy to be part of a team where everybody believed in success and, regardless of how long shooting a scene would take, we all continued to work hard.”
“I believe it is important to be on the world level, and use the opportunities there are. Besides, if you are the first and do something that nobody else does, you have a chance to excel and show it in a new light,” Didzis tells us when we ask him why 3D technologies are needed in Latvian cinematography, given that it is an industry that we mostly believe is trying to survive. He goes on to dispel the myth about the cost of 3D. And he notes it is wrong to say that Latvian film industry is trying to survive, given the resounding success of the Riga International Film Festival that featured an impressive programme of new Latvian films. The other film by Didzis Eglītis, “Easy Peasy” (Vēsā mierā) was also one of the feature films screened at the festival. It is an uplifting and patriotic story about the experienced Latvian rally drivers Andris Dambis and Māris Saukāns, and how their dream car, “OSCar 03” was built.
“I wouldn’t say that 3D is a far more expensive process as compared to 2D. The structure is largely the same. The main tool is different – the camera, which is more complicated and costly. Everything else though – actors, makeup artists, set designers… Everything is exactly the same,” explains the director.
He adds nevertheless that 3D is a format that requires more attention to detail and sharper perceptions: “No longer can you hide any shortcomings and “deceive” the viewer.”
“3D is on the rise everywhere in the world at the moment. This goes for not only science fiction or blockbusters, but also adventure films, dramas, and other genres. One of the first music films was shot for the “U2” rock band in 2007. I haven’t seen it yet unfortunately, but I have met the film’s producer and talked to him. They, too, were trailblazers who had to invent everything, just like us over here. When you’re doing something for the first time, you have to be particularly sensitive to everything. Be very careful, and that will ensure high quality,” Didzis Eglītis tells us. He says it is very regrettable that James Cameron’s “Avatar”, which started the wave of 3D cinema across the world, has been followed by a lot of surrogate products, which may have created erroneous, even damaging perception of 3D for the general public.
For quality experience, he recommends the 3D version of the “Life of Pi” film, but his absolute favourite is Wim Wenders’ documentary film “Pina” about the legendary German choreographer Pina Bausch. “This is no blockbuster. I believe that “Pina” is the best there has ever been in the realm of 3D.”
“Riga-2041”, which had its premiere at the “Kino Citadele” cinema on the 29th of December, stars Kaspars Aniņš, Romāns Bargais, Loreta Ezeriņa, Olafs Štrodahs, Inga Tropa, Georgijs Surkovs, Iveta Pole, Egons Dombrovskis, Sandis Pēcis, Dainis Gaidelis, Aleksandrs Poļiščuks, Jānis Jarāns.
The film is in Latvian.