Dita Rietuma

Diena, September 25, 1998


On Wednesday night, at the Arsenals International Film Festival was the premiere of a new film Morning In The Pine Forest.  For quite a while, Radio 106.2 announced that the screening had been sold out, while others have been talking about the long awaited sensation, promising the films author’s future material support. The film’s authors are Jānis Kalējs and Māra Rāviņa, the country of producing – Canada, although the film is associated with Canada only through the fact that it was financed through its funds (also through the Soros Foundation) and that is the country in which the film’s producer/director Māra Rāviņš currently resides.  Articles have been written about Jānis Kalējs – professional actor, who for a while exchanged Latvia for Canada.  About Māra Rāviņš – no, althoug Jānis believes, that is most unfair, as the film has two directors.


No relationship with Canadian Latvians

Māra – a refined, Scandinavian like being, turned out to be very receptive and talkative, even at nine in the morning, one the day of the film’s premiere.  It seems, that with her experience of life in North America, she understands quite well, the value of publicity.  “Born in Toronto, studied at the University of Toronto and Ontario College of Art. She has spent the last ten years working in the film industry as an art director, director and producer.”  Such is the official biographical data.  I ask, how she met with Jānis Kalējs and arrived at the film?  “1992.  We worked together on the Canadian, American, British production Red Hot (my note: director Paul Haggis’ 1st feature film), which was filmed in Latvia.”  Back then we didn’t really know each other very well.  After a year we just happened to run into each other on the street in Montreal, looked at each other and said, -- ‘I need to make a film in Latvia.’ Māra Rāviņš first time in Latvia was during the filming of Red Hot. Her next visits were associated with work – the filming of Morning In The Pine Forest.

How did Māra arrive to work in the North American film industry? No, her parents were not associated with art. “I’ve always had a necessity for self-expression.  I have worked with photography, theatre, also video. Everything comes together in a natural, unforced way in film.”  What is Mara’s relationship Latvians in Canada? “None.” Why? “I have no ties to that society.”


Young people reveal their souls

            A group of young people is filmed in Morning In The Pine Forest. Some of them – like the artist Anna Heinrihsone and the singer Helena Kozlova – are hard to place in the drawer of ‘anonymity’.  By the way, until Wednesday evening, none of the young people who were filmed, have ever seen Morning In The Pine Forest, that is why, for Māra Rāviņš, the most interesting was to await the reactions of the heroes.  In answer to my question, “How do you feel after the premiere?” Anna was laconic, “Surprised.” Although in this circumstance, the heroes own openness is to be blamed – the film was shot two years ago.  Taken seriously, the film surpised Anna with its themes – as it turns out, very different people have wanted to reveal their souls and talk about similar themes quite willingly with the authors.






How much of the film is Māra’s, how much Jānis? The poetic, the playful moments most certainly come from Māra’s ‘footsteps’.

Morning In The Pine Forest quite frequently is compared to Is It Easy To Be Young? Māra protests. “I was waiting for this. I have seen Juris Podnieks film. Both films are seemingly about youth, each reflects a very different time. Podnieks film was the 80’s – in style, in subject, in environment.  Our film – a different time, a different generation. I believe, that our film is not only about youth, but also about life as such at the turn of this century.  I saw Podnieks film, not at the height of its success, but after we had made Morning In The Pine Forest.  I was simply interested in his approach. Really, these films are truly different.”


Two directors, one film.

I ask Māra, is it easy to have two directors, if there is only – one film?  “Of course there are conflicts, if two individuals come together.  Most certainly this type of working relationship inspires new ideas, if one person – the other can take over. To work alone, at least for me, I sometimes lose perspective.”  Does Māra want to continue working together with Jānis?  “Most certainly.  Of course, Jānis has his and I have my ideas.  Simply we must wait and see, which project will get moving, it all has to do with financing, time and how things fall into place.”

Not too long ago Morning In The Pine Forest was shown at the Montreal International Film Festival. “We had a very great reception in Montreal,” says Māra, “the screening was sold out, and the fact, that the public was mostly French speaking and sat through the whole 110 minutes reading subtitles – was a good sign.  Very few documentaries are shown at the Montreal International Film Festival, in this respect, that is why I also feel we had a sucess there.”  Māra is also taking the film to Toronto, wehre it shall have a theatrical run.  In Rīga, it shall be screened at the Andalūzijas Suns from the 28th of September to the 12th of October.

Finally, how is film and Morning In The Pine Forest necessary for Māra Rāviņš?

“I want to break my prejudices and to transcend my own boundaries.  If I can open myself up to the world and the world can still reveal to me another wonder – because of this, it is worth living.”