Have you heard of the 2ANNAS festival?

Jean Baptiste Roncari, translated by Aurélie Merabti
25 Novembre 2014

Last Sunday the 26th October, the nineteenth Riga International Film Festival 2ANNAS came to an end. 2ANNAS is an independent international film festival, which takes place every year in Riga, gathering together movie-makers and film-lovers from all around the world for several days. The theme this year was “Transgressors – Pathfinders and pioneers of cinema”. From documentaries to fiction, through to the experimental, the movies took different forms, and delivered quite often a message half-way between the taboo and the unexplored. Let’s go back to this intense and unique festival, in which France presented six short films.

Crédit Julija Stancevičiūtė
Crédit Julija Stancevičiūtė
Despite the fact that it is not as well-known as the Cannes Film Festival or the Berlinale in Germany, the 2ANNAS’ reputation has only been growing over the last few years. From a simple little independent event created to promote film and to support the interest of cinematic art in Latvia, 2ANNAS then established itself as an international festival in 2005. Since then, the program is still growing and is attracting more and more people. The 2014 festival was one of the most important, with some 120 films shown over 9 days throughout the capital. 

“A unique, rich, intense and interesting festival”

Besides the wide range of subjects touched upon, such as eroticism or independent Latvian films or the Lebanese transgressors, the movies can take part in three different competitions: best international short film, best Baltic short film, and best full-length feature film. Yoel Kaminski, film director and one of the judges for best international short-film, liked this eclectic program, which is not obsessed by the competitive aspect. He described this festival as “really unique, rich, intense and interesting”.

In spite of the six French short films in the competition, none of them won a prize. However, the movie “Gli Immacolati”, by French film director Ronny Trocker, received a special mention from the judges. As for the short film “Supervenus” (directed by Frédéric Doazan), which has known some success on the Internet with its concept of absurd plastic surgery. Nevertheless, Yoel Kaminski admits the “efficiency” despite the “absence/lack of surprise in the narration”.

In the end, it was Germany who won the Golden ANNA 2014 aware for best international short film with Das Satanische Dickicht – Eins (The Satanic Grove – Part One) by Willy Hans. The film won unanimously with its oppressive atmosphere, perfectly painting the portrait of a divided family. But the judges also wanted to highlight the quality of all the films shown, and to acknowledge  the festival’s staff.

Living the transgression

We must say that this year, the theme of the transgressors allowed the projection of some films, which turn out to be a real experience for the audience. By being projected in a small room in a bar in Riga called the Kaņepes Kultūras centrs, the erotic films provoked laughs and awkward silences. And for good reason, because in the first short film, called Please Relax Now by Vika Kirchenbauer, an androgynous looking person forced each of them to touch themselves at his instruction, while the room was plunged into darkness. Another film (I am Monster by Shamon Iark and Lori Bowen) related, with dark humor, the sexual adventures of a necrophiliac working at the morgue. 

Image tirée du film Akmeņi manās kabatās
Image tirée du film Akmeņi manās kabatās
A special showing of a different kind of transgression was organized by Greek filmmaker Vassily Bourikas in a little independent cinema in Riga. « Experimentation and research has never been supported in our country's cinema, but slowly the filmmakers are taking the matter into their own hands ». The goal was to show an unusual aspect of the Greek crisis through the eyes of budding film directors. The originality, or rather the transgression, was to also project these movies via an old film-based projector, whose noisy mechanism and the low quality of the image added a certain charm to the film. For nine days, other cinematographic experiences followed and  2ANNAS 2014 was filled of surprise and discoveries.

Honor to Latvian cinema

Latvian cinema has also had the opportunity to introduce some of their films. So, since they knew how to put their resources first, they won the prize for the best experimental short-film and for the best Baltic short fiction competition, and the prize for the best international full-length feature film. The laureate of this last prize, called Akmeņi manās kabatās (Stones in my pockets) by Signe Baumane, was liked for the fact that its Surrealist atmosphere succeeded to find a narrative balance between directing events of Latvian history, and the struggle of five wives against depression and madness. Based on real facts, the animation film alternates carefully between the comical and the dramatic. These three distinctions are symbolic but also promising, especially when American movies represent 90% of the Latvian box office.

But, make no mistake, whatever the original country, independent cinema is not for a general audience, because its ideas do not correspond to what the general populace expect. It is another world, where creativity and originality override the budget and the demagoguery. But, it is during this kind of festival that people can discover some rare cinematographic gems. Moreover, the 2ANNAS festival has kept its promises and has organized free showings in pubs and bars, and cheap prices in cinemas. The organizers are young, so they understand social networks, they participate passionately in this international festival, and all that in a friendly atmosphere. This festival is already the place to be for a lot of film-makers and film-lovers. 

Let’s note that at the end of 2014, for the first time Riga will organize the Riga International Film Festival of (RIFF), in order to host the European Film Awards. The city will host the event in honor of its European Capital of Culture 2014 title. It will be an occasion for the festival team to promote the Latvian cinematographic culture and also to present to a bigger audience, some movies already shown during the 2ANNAS.