Event set up as 'homage' to Arsenals fest

LONDON — Five months after one of Eastern Europe’s oldest film festivals closed down after longterm funding was pulled, a new three-day event has been secured in Riga, Latvia.

The Film Festival Riga, which will run Sept. 10-12, has been established to pay homage to the Arsenals fest in Riga that closed in March.

The fest, which organizers describe as a “no-budget event,” is being made possible by the support of a range of regional film fests, backing from embassies and individual directors and producers.

The international competition will screen one feature from each of nine countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Romania, Russia and Latvia.

“The idea of Film Festival Riga is very simple — as the event has no budget at all, the group of friends and supporters will cover all the costs related to presentation of the film from their respective country,” said organizer Sarlote Liduma, a veteran of Arsenals.

The fest chiefs backing the event are Christine Dollhofer, Crossing Europe Filmfestival in Linz, Austria; Sara Norberg, Helsinki Film Festival, a.k.a. Love and Anarchy, in Finland; Tiina Lokk, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia; Stefan Kitanov, Sofia Film Festival, Bulgaria; Stefan Laudyn, Warsaw Film Festival, Poland; Stefan Uhrik, Intl. Film Festival Prague FebioFest, Czech Republic; and Tudor Giurgiu, Transylvania Film Festival, Romania.

Individual support has also come from directors Lucian Georgescu, Yevgeni Pashkevich and Marina Razbezhkina.

Other backers are the Polish and Finnish embassies in Latvia, the Austrian ministry of international affairs, Czech Television, the Estonian Film Fund, Finnish Film Foundation, Warsaw Film Studios, Gala Film, Lotus Film and German sales shingle Match Factory.

Film Festival Riga will symbolically take place the week when the Arsenals fest was due to unspool.

Arsenals was founded in 1988 by Augusts Sukuts as the first independent film fest in the former Soviet Union, of which Latvia was part of between 1940 and 1991, when it regained its independence.

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