• Poster for The Dam (“Aizsprosts”, dir. Aleksandrs Rusteiķis, 1940)
  • Poster for Fisherman’s Son (“Zvejnieka dēls”, dir. Vilis Lapenieks, 1940)
  • Ņina Melbārde and Pēteris Lūcis – Anita and Oskars in the film Fisherman’s Son ( „Zvejnieka dēls”, dir. Vilis Lapenieks, 1940)
  • Director Vilis Lapenieks and cameraman Alfrēds Polis during the filming of Fisherman’s Son („Zvejnieka dēls”)
  • In front Arnolds Milbrets – Bundža, behind him Harijs Avens – Džims in Fisherman’s Son (dir. Vilis Lapenieks, 1940))

The Ministry of Public Affairs’ film department hired 3 film directors at the end of the 1930s: Aleksandrs Rusteiķis, Voldemārs Pūce and Vilis Lapenieks. They made culture-films, and also began working on their own features – Lapnieks cinematized Fisherman’s Son (“Zvejnieka dēls”) the novel by Vilis Lācis, while Rusteiķis shot an original screenplay called the The Dam (“Aizsprosts”). Pūce began working on adapting the historical novel Kaugurieši by Kārlis Zariņš, but this film only came out in June of 1941, making it the first feature in Soviet Latvia. 



In December 1938, Vilis Lapenieks submitted a “short ideological draft” of Fisherman’s Son (“Zvejnieka dēls”), the feature he wanted to make, to the Ministry of Public Affairs, outlining the film’s setting – an isolated fishing village whose inhabitants are as “linked to primitive forces as the sea itself”.

  Vilis Lapenieks also outlined the dramatic conflict: “This primitive, patriarchal world produces people and events that stir up the regular flow of life and, like the sparks that fly when flint touches steel, when these hardened men collide, there’s drama.”

  The rest of the fishermen’s locale balances between the realistic and the comical, and the audience is introduced to various charming, recognizable, and therefore memorable characters, for example Džims (Harijs Avens), Bundža (Arnolds Milbrets) and Kate (Ella Jēkabsone).

  The film’s romantic note is the relationship between Oskars and Anita.

  The defining conflict in the film, as per Lapenieks’ vision, takes place between the old and new, though, in acknowledging the idea of national unity (under President Ulmanis), the victory of the new over the old does not lead to the destruction of the old.

  The premiere of Fisherman’s Son took place on January 22, 1940 in the Splendid Palace cinema. The success was phenomenal – 140 000 viewers from Riga, Liepaja and Jelgava saw the film in the first three weeks. The film also had a successful run in neighbouring countries. The Lithuanian daily, Lietuvos Aidas, noted: “The film industry in Latvia, admirably represented by Fisherman’s Son, is entering a world-class level, and is doing so honourably. Fisherman’s Son is an appealing, smart and enrapturing work of art.”