For nearly two years, the honorary consuls from all three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – sought a way to publicize films from their respective countries. Starting with looking into the feasibility of conducting a Baltic Film Festival, they realized the amount of money this required was beyond what they could reasonably hope to raise, not to mention the manpower required to implement such a festival.
Enter: Jim Koenig, founder of the Scandinavian Film Festival. Jim and his organizers were open to having a Baltic Film Expo attached to this year’s Scandinavian Film Festival in Los Angeles. And the wheels were set in motion. This weekend marks the culmination of those efforts and at the same time, presents a unique and wonderful opportunity to introduce Baltic film talent to the entertainment capitol of the world.
SFFLA has had Nordic film “wintering” in Southern California for the past 15 years, with a feast of films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, bringing people together for the shared experience of the films, networking, discussion, inspiration, business, and pleasure.
This year’s festival will feature one film from each Baltic country. The line up for this weekend‘s screenings - Baltic Film Expo @ SFFLA – are as follows:
“Mushrooming” (Estonia) – 12:30 pm, Saturday Jan 25
Politician Aadu and his wife set out to pick mushrooms on a day when he gets a call from a journalist confronting him with regard to suspected corruption. By coincidence the married couple find themselves in a car with a pompous rock idol named Zäk. After discovering that the spot his wife has chosen to pick mushrooms is full of vacationers, Aadu decides to find a quieter place. The woods where he ultimately ends up, however, are perhaps too deep and inhospitable, and finding a way out may not be easy….
The black comedy with touches of political satire aims at the often unscrupulous behavior of contemporary politicians and media stars on the way to power and popularity.
“Mother, I Love You” (Latvia) – 2:30 pm, Saturday Jan 25
Like a lot of children, 12-year-old Raimonds has his quiet side, his talented side (he plays saxophone at a music school), a mischievous streak and a resourcefulness born of desperation. Often on his own while his single mom works, and routinely at odds with her when they do spend time together, Raimonds finds thrilling companionship in Peteris, a boy who steals money from one of the apartments his mother cleans. Raimond’s increasingly dangerous decisions will have thorny repercussions for him and those close to him. Writer/director Janis Nords brings great humanity and emotional suspense to this striking coming of age drama, a Latvian grandchild of The 400 Blows. An exciting story about the healing power of truth.
“Conversations On Serious Topics” (Lithuania) – 1:30 pm, Sunday Jan 26
This is a film without exterior action, props, landscapes or special effects. Its main characters are children and teenagers with a special ability to describe the surrounding world. Intimate conversations with them reveal the picture of the modern world – at times melancholic, at times comical, at times dramatic. Shot in a minimalist fashion, the film raises questions about loneliness, love, God, the world and human relations. “The world is people.” “Don’t you believe in God? I can teach you how to start believing…”
**All showings will take place at the Writers Guild Theater, 135 South Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills, CA.
Lindsay Taub is an LA-based writer/editor, producer and photographer covering travel, lifestyle, culture, arts, food, health, and all facets that make life a journey. She calls Los Angeles home when she's there, but prefers to leave the city for the mountains and open spaces as often as possible. She loves cooking, gardening, live music, hiking with her three rescue dogs, and nothing beats cheese and wine during a spectacular sunset. She is the managing editor of The Pacific Punch. Follow her on instagram/twitter @lindsaytaub and follow the Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.lindsaytaub.com and www.voyagevixens.com .***