• The Catch (“Lomi”, dir. Aivars Freimanis, 1969)
  • The Coast („Krasts”, dir. Aivars Freimanis, 1963)
  • White Bells (“Baltie zvani”, dir. Ivars Kraulītis, 1961)
  • Uldis Brauns during the shooting of The Worker (“Strādnieks”, 1963)
  • During the filming of The Construction („Celtne”, dir. Uldis Brauns, 1962)
  • 235 000 000 (rež. Uldis Brauns, 1967)
  • 235 000 000 (rež. Uldis Brauns, 1967)
  • Ivars Seleckis (from the left) and Aivars Freimanis shooting the first scene of The Coast (“Krasts”, 1963)
  • The first frame of the film The Coast („Krasts”, dir. Aivars Freimanis, 1963)
  • Ivars Seleckis (from the left) and Aivars Freimanis during the shooting of The Coast (“Krasts”, 1963)
  • Year in Review („Gada reportāža”, dir. Aivars Freimanis, 1965)
  • Year in Review („Gada reportāža”, dir. Aivars Freimanis, 1965)

The Riga School of Poetic Documentary Cinema movement has no specific end date and no set list of films belonging to this style. The beginning of this new way of thinking is more or less determinable: White Bells (“Baltie zvani”, 1961), and Uldis Brauns’ trilogy (The Beginning (“Sākums”), 1961 / The Construction (“Celtne”), 1962 / The Worker (“Strādnieks”), 1963), but the documentary My Riga (“Mana Rīga”, 1960), by director Aloizs Brenčs and screenwriter Viktors Lorencs, is considered the “proto-renaissance phenomenon”, as the film critic Miks Savisko referred to it. For the first time narration was done in the first person, and the film’s title was subjective and personal, not stiffly official. Of course, this new form of thinking had to overcome obstacles on the way to official recognition. For example, the first film by young filmmakers Aivars Freimanis and Ivars Seleckis, Send-off (“Ceļamaize”, 1963), a stark portrayal of youth workers in the farm-fields, caused a scandal, and the film was “shelved” for a good while, as was Aivars Freimanis’ film Father (“Tēvs”, 1967), about the dramatic fate of the Latvian Riflemen.

  Still, the majority of films from the Riga School of Poetic Documentary Cinema (Frescoes of Kuldīga (“Kuldīgas freskas”, 1963 / The Coast (“Krasts”), 1963 / Year in Review (“Gada reportāža”), 1965 / 235 000 000, 1967 / The Catch (“Lomi”), 1969) were lucky – sharp film critics and responsive audiences immediately sensed the difference between the previous documentary films and this new style. By the end of the 1970s, this new phenomenon also gained a serious theoretical basis and was analyzed in the international documentary film symposiums that took place in Jūrmala from 1977. 



Ivars Kraulītis – director

Herz Frank – screenwriter

Uldis Braunscinematographer

A poetic and, at the same time, realistic documentary about Riga, in which a little girl follows white bell-shaped flowers. The fact that this fictional film is also perceived as a documentary is largely due to the young cinematographer Uldis Brauns. None of the scenes that Brauns shot were impersonal or passive. It is, at the same time, a poetic interpretation of reality, contrasting a small child against the bustling city – a wonderful infusion of playful elements into a documentary format.



Uldis Brauns – cinematographer, director

Armīns Lejiņš – dialogue


Uldis Brauns – cinematographer, director

Armīns Lejiņš – screenwriter


Uldis Brauns – cinematographer, director

Armīns Lejiņš – screenwriter


Shot at building sites (each short film – a new site) using unexpected camera angles and movements, the filmmakers have, without any staging, managed to create a metaphor about passion for work and even beauty from the seemingly unattractive scenes common to any construction site. The title of the first of the trilogy, The Beginning, effectively coincided with a new, poetic style and perspective. Natural sounds, the music, the expressiveness of the black & white scenes and improvised dialogue, brought a breath of fresh air into Latvian documentary cinema. An episode in the film, The Worker - old cannon pieces are transported in freight cars for recasting, the scene suddenly shifts vertically and the cannons seem to fall into the furnace - is even more effective than textual poeticism. Cinematic imagery classic to the Riga School of Poetic Documentary Cinema is thus created through these figurative scenes.


235 000 000 (1967)

Uldis Brauns – director

Herz Frank – screenwriter

Rihards Pīks, Valdis Kroģis, Ralfs Krūmiņš – cinematographers

Laima Žurgina, Biruta Veldre – co-directors


A project of previously unprecedented scope for the Riga Film Studio – four film crews spent a whole year shooting all over the Soviet Union following the protocol and script of writer Herz Frank and director Uldis Brauns. The film’s basis is two contrasting lines, each had to be filmed in a different style:  “the human life timeline (HLT) is the backbone of the film, while events (E) are inserts, and so in filming try to achieve the maximum contrast between these lines. For the HLT seek: the personal, intimate, emotionally fragile, expression of emotion, the individual. For the E:  diversity of events, the masses, seek the collective, sensational, and scale”. These guidelines allowed four different cinematographers to gather stylistically unified material, and that’s why there is no disharmony in the end result.

  The gigantic feature film has no narrated dialogue, and the three main themes: Time, Love and the Road, were associatively outlined. The music was composed by Raimonds Pauls. The diverse material records the most significant moments in human life: birth, the first steps taken, love, weddings, self-awareness and attainment. The manner in which the material is presented and the editing induces a thought flow process which, as the filmmakers intended, turns out to be more important than the sequence of separate events.



Aivars Freimanis – director, screenwriter

Ivars Seleckis – cinematographer

The continuity of existence is emphasized in portraying the periodicity of the lives of fishermen. Cinematographer Ivars Seleckis’ camera has captured reality so organically, that the photographic simplicity of the scenes, the linear purity, and the well-chosen angles create a remarkable sense of plausibility and presence. 1960s film reviews even contained the phrase “choice of mise-en-scène” (Lev Roschal), usually only used in reference to feature films with actors. The love of every detail in the lives of the fishermen becomes an original philosophy of life, the submission to a seemingly monotonous life rhythm – and an inimitable poeticism. 



Aivars Freimanis – director

Herz Frank, Imants Ziedonis – screenwriters

Ivars Seleckis – cinematographer

Year in Review was made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Soviet Latvia. The filmmakers’ youth, minimal experience and lack of routine was an advantage here, as it helped to avoid the pathos and heaviness usually found in jubilee films. Choosing a Time and Celebrations theme as the unifying motif, the filmmakers succeeded in incorporating into the five parts of the film not only Latvia’s most significant jubilee year events, but also conceptual categories that testified to the sense of the world, spirit and mood of the people they filmed. Each episode in Year in Review captures that moment of intense emotion, and each person – at life’s most important, key milestone instances. This film was concentrated and suitably utilized the experience of the Riga School of Poetic Documentary Cinema in developing the ability to see the beauty, the abstract, and the poeticism in everyday life.