The notion of a “Riga poetic school”, as it was deemed by critics in the 1960s, characterizes a cinematographic change in vision – unlike the official and formal “parade films” of the years following the war, the new generation of cinematographers and directors turned to “real life”, making films about ordinary people whose personalities are illuminated through each author’s individual style of expression. The instigators of this metaphoric cinematic language in Latvia are director Ivars Kraulītis and cinematographer Uldis Brauns, together with screenwriter Herz Frank. Their play in the short film White Bells (“Baltie zvani”, 1961) so successfully melded facts captured in the flow of life with figurative perception, that this dramatized film paradoxically marked a new era in documentary film.
The possibility of a Riga School of Poetic Documentary Cinema occurred only during the so-called thaw period after the 1959 XXI Communist Party Congress, and was connected to hopes and a certain blossoming in social life and art. Although the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) graduates, Ivars Kraulītis, Uldis Brauns and Ivars Seleckis, and those who came from journalism, Armīns Lejiņš, Aivars Freimanis and Herz Frank, worked in different signature styles, they were united by the poetic style whose dominance coincided with the much lauded everyday romanticism of the 1960s.