This year the Riga International Film Festival ‘Arsenals’ has chosen to honour Latvian documentarist Herz Frank on the occasion of his 85th birthday. Sporting his signature knitted beret and Leica camera, Frank attended the opening of an exhibition on his life and work at Riga’s small but modern Film Museum, where he signed copies of his book, Turn Back on the Threshold (Uz sliekšņa atskaties, Kino Raksti Library).
Frank is a representative of the ‘Riga Style’, a poetic and observational approach to documentary. One of his most celebrated shorts is 10 Minutes Older (Vecāks par 10 minūtēm, 1978) which presents close-ups of children watching a puppet show. Although the film’s spectators never see the puppets, there is a far more interesting show in the childrens’ faces as they are affected by different emotions. Many years later, this film inspired two omnibus features, Ten Minutes Older: The Cello and Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (both 2002): illustrious directors including Jean-Luc Godard, Claire Denis, Bernardo Bertolucci, Aki Kaurismaki and Werner Herzog all contributed short films reflecting on the notion of time’s passage.
While Frank’s 10 Minutes Older is screening in a loop as part of the Film Museum’s exhibition, ‘Arsenals’ is hosting a screening of 235 000 000, written by Frank and directed by fellow ‘Riga Style’ documentary maker Uldis Brauns. The title refers to the number of citizens of the Soviet Union in 1967, the year the film was made. Spanning just 70 minutes, this ambitious project sent four film crews across the U.S.S.R. to capture significant moments in the context of both individual lives and society as a whole.
235 000 000 will be screened tomorrow, the 14th of September at 7pm, at Kino Citadele, Riga.