held on May 3 - 9, 1997 in Jurmala, Latvia
European Documentary Film Symposiums Riga, 1999

A major Latvian daily newspaper DIENA of 3.5.97.
Latvia for many decades has been known as the land where documentary films are in favour. Today two events start at the Riga cinema theater: the International Documentary Film Symposium and the Baltic Documentary Film Forum. The main idea is to get acquainted with the documentary situation in the world and to recover former contacts between Baltic filmmakers. Both events are supported by the Soros Foundation Latvia and organized in cooperation with the Documentary Film Centre Stuttgart.
It is twenty years since the first European Documentary Film Symposium was held in Jurmala. The grip of the official ideology was hardly felt there. It was almost the only place where one could watch the best documentaries from the USSR and Socialist countries, listen to the reports by the outstanding film theoreticians. Since then the group of organizers remained the same: film director I.Seleckis and film theoreticians A.Kleckins and M.Savisko. This is the only event of this kind in Europe which exists for so many years. (…)
by Inga Perkone

A major Rigaer daily newspaper RIGAS BALSS of 3.5.97.
According to the latest news, film people from at least 15 countries will participate in the discussions and film shows. (…) Two hours long program of the internationally awarded films will be shown at the opening. (…) Discussions will be held in the Composers’ House in Jurmala. There will be shown three film programs every day: at 9:00, 14:00, 20:00 (free admittance).
For those who are not intended to go to Jurmala, special screenings will be arranged in Riga, at the Riga cinema theater and the Cinema Gallery. The program will be as follows: (…).
by Vents Kainaizis

Latvian daily newspaper NEATKARIGA RITA AVIZE
Since 1977 Latvia has been known as the unique centre of the theory of documentary films. Every second year the International Documentary Film Symposium is held in Jurmala, where the latest trends and topical problems are being discussed. This year we observe the 20th anniversary of this event. It has prevented Latvian documentary cinema from provincialism and made it internationally recognized.
The topic of this year is called “Documentary Cinema. The Age Gone. An Age to Come?” About 50 documentary filmmakers and theorists from many European countries will come. It is expected to publish the Records of the Symposium. In the framework of the Baltic Documentary Film Forum the retrospective of the Baltic documentaries will be shown. (…)
The Symposium is organized in cooperation with the Documentary Film Centre Stuttgart and supported by the Soros Foundation Latvia.
by Ivars Seleckis

Latvian daily newspaper NEATKARIGA RITA AVIZE of 5.5.97
The International Documentary Film Symposium and the Baltic Documentary Film Forum were opened last Saturday. There were the most prominent wits and talents of the documentary world, theorists and filmmakers - standing on the stage of the Riga cinema theater.
The Symposium is financed mainly by Documentary Film Centre Stuttgart and the Soros Foundation Latvia. Thanks to the people from Stuttgart we shall be able not only to see films but also to learn things very important for us, listening to reports by R.C.M.Wagner, B.G.Nahm, H.J.Schlegel and others. (…)
by Anita Uzulniece

Latvian weekly LMM of 8.5.97
(…) Yesterday the heavy artillery get started at the Symposium: Mark Soosaar’s film Father, Son and Holy Thorum was shown. Although it is completed just recently, it has got awards at international festivals already. Audrius Stonys who has got Felix for The Earth of Blind showed his latest film Flying Over Blue Fields.
After the evening discussions Off Season by Pepe Danquart and Miriam Quinte was screened. Black and white expressive film story about one of the most painful points in former Yugoslavia. It is Mostar, the town divided into two parts where the war is not finished yet. Hans Koschnick, appointed by EU as administrator, tries to do his best in this complicated situation. There are Croats and non-Croats, automatically considered as Muslims, neo-Fascists and ordinary inhabitants, who did not leave from their native town. The authors describe the situation using expressive images of the town where the bridges have a symbolic meaning, Koschnick’s statements, interviews, narration (Klaus Theweleit). The Balkan war - how it affects us in Europe, the war of religions, splitting one nation? Contradictions remains after watching the film, but you have a possibility to discuss it with one of the authors this evening. By the way, Pepe Danquart is one of few Europeans who are Oscar prize-winners. He got it last year for his short film Ticketless.
Another well-known author, whose film The Belovs was shown at the Symposium few years ago and since then has collected a number of prizes, is Victor Kossakovsky. This time he presented his latest film Wednesday. The people who were born at the same day as Victor was - Wednesday, the 19th of July - were recorded in it. A simple idea, but years needed for realization and many prominent producers (ZDF/ARTE, BBC, Eurimage and others) too. Today’s Petersburg, destiny of people in their thirties, destiny of Russia - a lot of stuff to think over. And another possibility to discuss these and other questions, such as searching for producers, fundraising etc.
by Anita Uzulniece

A major Latvian daily newspaper DIENA of 10.5.97.
Abrams Kleckins has been one of the organizers of the International Documentary Film Symposium in Jurmala for twenty years. He was responsible, by his own words, for the theoretical part of it. (…)
Telling the history of Symposium Mr Klecking is quite laconic: ‘Twenty years before Latvian documentary cinema came to a crisis and therefore we decided to exchange ideas on documentary cinema at the international level. Since then documentary filmmakers from almost the whole world have been in Jurmala, mostly from Eastern Europe, former Soviet republics, also from neighbour Western countries. The Symposium showed up our strongest and weakest points, prevented us from the provincialism, let us see ourselves in the world context.’
Now the situation in documentary cinema is even more complicated: ‘Suddenly we found ourselves in a totally new situation where it is no place for so-called artistic documentaries. I mean films telling human stories, not just events, films which make a man realize himself in the world around.’ With a view to support this kind of documentaries film people from 16 countries came together to discuss the latest trends in documentary cinema and its nearest future.
All previous symposiums had different topics. This one is called “Documentary Cinema. The Age Gone. An Age to Come?”. ‘A question mark is there because we never know in which direction it will be developed. It sounds dramatic, but Latvian documentary film makers have lost their audience. If in other countries documentaries were considered as second-rate cinema, neither it was in Latvia. But now documentaries are not shown theatrically nor on TV. Latvian Ministry of Culture has not given a penny for our Symposium. If there were not Soros Foundation and our friends in Stuttgart, we couldn’t organize anything.’

by Uldis Rudaks
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