FNE at Riga IFF 2019: Nova Lituania Takes Top Prize

Nova Lituania by Karolis Kaupinis Nova Lituania by Karolis Kaupinis photo: Mphilms

RIGA: The sixth annual Riga International Film Festival, which concluded on 27 October 2019, gave its award for best film to Nova Lituania by Karolis Kaupinis. The big winner this year, however, was the festival itself, which drew a record number of visitors with an impressive industry programme and specialised industry events on short films, animated films and VR.

The Riga IFF Forum, which included the Magnetic Latvia Film Conference, did exactly what its title implied: attracted a stellar gathering of international film professionals to introduce them to Latvia and the Baltics. The three Baltic states are becoming Europe’s new darling, with high film incentives, new film studios being constructed and a wave of domestic film successes thanks to increased film funding to celebrate their 2018 centennials.

The Forum also focused on three areas of filmmaking important to the region, but often overlooked: animation, short films and VR production. The Baltic Animation Meet-up (BAMU) opened with presentations of ten animators and their works, along with introductions of another ten animators and several more regional film organizations. Anna Zaca, who organised the event, said that short animation is the main product of the Baltic film industry, with around 40 animated shorts produced each year, but that funding for short films is still a problem in the Baltics. Riga IFF give equal acknowledgement to shorts, with a competition section and prize of equal status as their feature film competition. Short film proponents had an open panel discussion with Baltic TV representatives to encourage them to open up programming slots for short films. The TV executives were in agreement that they would prefer packages of short films, rather than acquiring individual films.

In tandem with the festival, the board of the European Film Academy (EFA) held its annual meeting in Riga, with the EFA Board Deputy Chairman Mike Downey stepping up to replace outgoing Chairwoman Agnieszka Holland.

The festival had film competitions for Baltic feature films, short films, documentary films and children’s films.

The list of winning films follows:


RIGA IFF Award for Best Film
Nova Lituania (Lithuania)
Directed by Karolis Kaupinis
Produced by M Films (Lithuania)

Special Mention
Animus Animalis (A story about people, animals and things) (Lithuania)
Directed by Aistė Žegulytė
Produced by Meno avilys

FIPRESCI Latvian Section Jury Award:
Scandinavian Silence (Estonia, France, Belgium)
Directed by Martti Helde
Produced by Three Brothers (Estonia)
Coproduced by ARP Selection (France), Media International (Belgium)

Splendid Palace People’s Choice Award
Scandinavian Silence (Estonia, France, Belgium)
Directed by Martti Helde
Produced by Three Brothers (Estonia)
Coproduced by ARP Selection (France), Media International (Belgium)

SHORT RIGA International Competition

Best Short Film
Uncle Thomas, Accounting for the Days (Portugal, France, Canada)
Directed by Regina Pessoa

Special Mention
Community Gardens (Lithuania)
Directed by Vytautas Katkus

Special Mention
Operation Jane Walk (Austria)
Directed by Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner

KIDS WEEKEND Feature Film Competition

RIGA IFF Children’s Jury Diploma – Best Film
Rocca Changes the World (Germany)
Directed by Katja Benrath


Grand Prix
Immortal (Estonia, Latvia)
Directed by Ksenia Okhapkina

Best Director
Pure Art (Poland, Belarus)
Directed by Maxim Shved

Jury award
School of Seduction (Denmark)
Directed by Alina Rudnitskaya

Special mention
Daymohk (Netherlands)
Directed by Masha Novikova

Special mention
State Funeral (Netherlands, Lithuania)
Directed by Sergei Loznitsa