- the Government of Latvia, the Ministry of Culture and the Riga City council
In 1986 something unthinkable happend in Riga, the capital of Latvia, and the birthplace of Sergey Eisenstein. While still under Soviet occupation, some local cinéastes decided to break the intellectual wall the Soviet Union had imposed on our country, and made the first Riga Cinema days of '86.
It was a blast – this was the only event in the whole former Soviet Union, except the Moscow International film festival, where people were able to watch international films, most of which were forbidden. Two years later the Riga International Film forum "Arsenals" was founded. What started out as a biannual film forum, in 2010 became an annual international film festival. Throughout the 25 years of it's existence it has always been the highlight of cinema lovers in Latvia.
In a country where the majority of the films shown are Hollywood productions, it has been an oasis for the true lovers of cinema. "Arsenals" has always been praised by the international colleagues for its professional programming – giving the viewers the whole spectrum of what happens on the worldwide cinema scene. Through "Arsenals" Latvian audiences discovered such directors as Raul Ruiz, Jan Švankmajer, Guy Maddin, Quay Brothers, Bela Tarr, Eugène Green, Jos Stelling, Leo Carrax, Alex van Warmerdam, Boris Lehman, Jon Jost, Jonas Mekas, F.J. Ossang, and others. During the first "Arsenals" our audience was introduced to Jean-Luc Godard with a whole retrospective – an event that no one thought was possible in the Soviet Union. This event is still vividly remembered. The festival has always had special focus on French cinema – in the 1990 edition of the festival there was a large selection of French Avant – garde, with films by Georges Ray, Dominique Avron, Claudine Eizykman, Alain Bonnamy, Pierre Rovere, Maurice Lamitre, Patrice Bokanovski etc.
Through this, a Television media bridge (during 1988 couple of media bridges were organized between France and Latvia and "Arsenals" was the first medium that gave an update on the rebellious situation in the Soviet Union at that time), and other activities, there was a close bond built between French cinematography and Riga IFF "Arsenals". It was so close, that French press, namely Libération published an article about "Arsenals". Throughout the years "Arsenals" has managed to maintain a strong emphasis on auteur cinema.
"Arsenals" is a classical festival with two different competitions – International and Baltic (the only Baltic film competition program in the world), there is a FIPRESCI jury, a Baltic film competition jury which includes programmers from other European festivals, and an Interfilm jury. Besides there are also programs that reflect the current processes in the world cinema.
Unfortunately the festival's existence is now in danger. Cutting cultural spending in the face of economic hardship is short-sighted and will create long term consequences locally as well as causing Latvia to loose touch with the European Community.
In order to enable Latvian audiences to remain in contact with what is most important in world cinema, and permit our country to continue its cultural exchanges with the rest of the European Community, we ask the government of Latvia, the Ministry of Culture and the Riga City council to review their cultural politics.
The Support film festival Arsenals petition to the Government of Latvia, the Ministry of Culture and the Riga City council was written by Arsenals and is in the category Culture at GoPetition.