The Republic of Latvia has submitted a variety of films for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film[nb 1] at the Academy Awards. The award is given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States that contains primarily non-English dialogue, and was first presented at the 29th Academy Awards.
The Academy selection committee reviews all submissions for this award, and secret ballot voting is used to determine the five nominees each year. For Latvia, the panel deciding on submissions works on behalf of the National Film Centre of Latvia (NFCL),[nb 2] consisting of Latvian Filmmakers Union[nb 3] chairperson Ieva Romanova, state secretary of the Ministry of Culture Dace Vilsone, critic Kristīne Simsone, film historian Viktors Freibergs, director and Latvian Academy of Culture [lv][nb 4] professor Dāvis Sīmanis, as well as producer and head of VFS Films Uldis Cekulis. Dita Rietuma, film historian and director of the NFCL, was elected as the head of the panel in 2020. They would hold a meeting to decide on the submission, and after announcing it, would give an explanation as to why said film was chosen.
A month after restoring independence, Latvia was recognized by the Soviet Union in September 1991, bringing the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic to an end. In 1992, they sent their first-ever film for consideration, a comedy film titled The Child of Man, written and directed by Jānis Streičs, at the 65th Academy Awards. The film was considered alongside 32 other films but failed to be nominated. They made their next submission in 2008 for the 80th Awards, another in 2010 for the 83rd, and another in 2012 for the 85th, and have sent a film each year since then. In total, Latvia has made twelve submissions to the category, all of which were not nominated.
List of submissions
|Film title used in nomination||Original title||Director||Result||Ref.|
|The Child of Man[nb 5]||Cilvēka bērns||Jānis Streičs||Not Nominated|||
|Defenders of Riga||Rīgas sargi||Aigars Grauba [lv]||Not Nominated|||
|Hong Kong Confidential[nb 6]||Amaya||Māris Martinsons||Not Nominated|||
|Gulf Stream Under the Iceberg[why? 1][com 1]||Golfa straume zem ledus kalna||Jevgēņijs Paškēvičs [lv]||Not Nominated|||
|Mother, I Love You[nb 7]||Mammu, es tevi mīlu||Jānis Nords [lv]||Not Nominated|||
|Rocks in My Pockets[com 2]||Akmeņi manās kabatās||Signe Baumane||Not Nominated|||
|Modris[nb 8]||Modris||Juris Kursietis||Not Nominated|||
|Dawn[nb 9]||Ausma||Laila Pakalniņa||Not Nominated|||
|The Chronicles of Melanie[why? 2]||Melānijas hronika||Viestur Kairish||Not Nominated|||
|To Be Continued[com 3]||Turpinājums||Ivars Seleckis [lv]||Not Nominated|||
|The Mover||Tēvs Nakts||Dāvis Sīmanis Jr. [lv]||Not Nominated|||
|Blizzard of Souls[why? 3]||Dvēseļu putenis||Dzintars Dreibergs [lv]||Not nominated|||
- The panel said that the film is "highly valued in a narrative and artistic sense", marking all aspects of it "professional [and] memorable".
- The panel stated that the film is a "stylistically unified and epic work with a strong protagonist, expressive visual solutions and great actors". It also noted the film's "meaning for Latvian history and culture."
- In the meeting, the panel said that the reason for choosing the film was due to it being a "dynamic, universal and seamless message". The panel opined that its theme, cinematography, and originality made the film stand out against the other two candidates: What Silent Gerda Knows, directed by Jevgeņijs Paškēvičs, and The Sign Painter, directed by Viesturs Kairish.
- In response, director Jevgēņijs Paškevičs states: "I am, of course, happy for our team, operators, artists, managers, and others who worked on this film. Of course, there is no need to cherish vain expectations, but it is also a pleasure that the jury has already made such a decision".
- In response, the creator of the film Signe Baumane said, "It was unexpected for me, as Latvia has produced a few amazing films in the last year, and I didn't think an animated feature would have a chance in the competition against great live-action films". She hoped that the submission acquaints people more towards Latvian history and people, as well as widen the scope of mental illness discussions.
- Viestur Kairish, director of The Chronicles of Melanie, opined that "To Be Continued is about the way a human enters life. By submitting the film by Ivars Seleckis, we are standing up for humanism and real film art."
- List of countries by number of Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film
- Cinema of Latvia
- List of Lithuanian submissions for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film (neighbouring country also with no nominations)
- Named "Best Foreign Language Film" prior to April 2019
- Latvian: Latvijas Nacionālais Kino Centrs
- Latvian: Latvijas Kinematogrāfistu Savienība
- Latvian: Latvijas Kultūras Akadēmija
- The first film and only Latvian submission to use Latgalian dialect throughout, with the film set in the Latgale region of Latvia
- Initially, director Māris Martinsons intended the film to be produced in Lithuania, but "got refused," and it ended up being a Latvian film. It was shot in Hong Kong.
- Other films considered for submission included Dream Team 1935 by Aigars Grauba (lv) and Mushroomers (lv) by Ivars Tontegode (lv).
- A co-production between Latvia, Poland, and Estonia
- "Foreign Language Film Award Renamed 'International Feature Film Award'" (Press release). Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 23 April 2019. Archived from the original on 24 April 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
- "Rule Thirteen: Special Rules for the Foreign Language Film Award". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 22 August 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "History of the Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 6 July 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2009.
Seven more special awards were presented before Foreign Language Film became an annual category in 1956.
- "Latvia Enters Film Blizzard of Souls for Oscar Awards". National Film Center of Latvia. Archived from the original on 18 December 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
- Schmemann, Serge (7 September 1991). "Soviet Turmoil; Soviets Recognize Baltic Independence, Ending 51-year Occupation of 3 Nations". The New York Times (National ed.). p. 1. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 18 October 2020. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
- Đorđević, Nikola (5 December 2020). "Latvia celebrates a century of fillmmaking". Emerging Europe. ISSN 2399-7613. Archived from the original on 5 December 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "Latvian film Rigas sargi "Defenders of Riga" to premiere at EU Film Showcase". Embassy of the Republic of Latvia to the United States of America. 14 December 2020. Archived from the original on 14 December 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
"Defenders of Riga" has been nominated as Latvia's official entry in the Foreign Language Film category for the 81st Academy Awards®.
- Tracevskis, Rokas M. (13 October 2010). "Lithuanian and Latvian movie from Hong Kong". The Baltic Times. Archived from the original on 16 August 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
- Ambote, Sintija (26 September 2012). "Spēlfilmu "Golfa straume zem ledus kalna" izvirza "Oskara" nominācijai" [Feature film "Gulf Stream Under the Iceberg" Nominated for Oscar] (in Latvian). Public Broadcasting of Latvia. Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
- "Latvia submits Mother I Love You for foreign language Oscar". Screen Daily. Media Business Insight. 11 September 2013. Archived from the original on 31 March 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
- Boyce, Laurence (17 September 2014). "Rocks in My Pockets is Latvia's entry for the Academy Awards". Cineuropa. Creative Europe Media. Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
- "Modris: Latvian Submission for Oscar Award". National Film Center of Latvia. Archived from the original on 12 November 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
- Zapāne, Agnese (23 September 2016). "Latvia Selects "Dawn / Ausma" for Oscar Consideration". National Film Center of Latvia. Archived from the original on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
- "'Chronicles of Melanie' to compete for Academy Award". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 4 September 2017. Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
- Priimägi, Tristan (5 September 2019). "Latvia's To Be Continued put forward for the Oscars". Cineuropa. Creative Europe Media. Archived from the original on 7 September 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
- Holdsworth, Nick (16 September 2019). "Oscars: Latvia Selects 'The Mover' for International Feature Category". The Hollywood Reporter. MRC. Archived from the original on 18 September 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
- Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences official website
- National Film Centre of Latvia official website