The National Archives of Latvia publishes a collection of Latvian film chronicles

From October 1, the National Archives of Latvia will open the collection of Latvian film chronicles accumulated in the archive in the digital repository and encourage everyone to celebrate World Audiovisual Heritage Day in October by looking at and listening to the evidence of Latvia's history.

So far, 2020 has been an extremely challenging year, as the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives. In this time of social isolation, when much of our daily lives take place remotely, video and audio recordings not only provide essential evidence for our age, but also provide a window to the outside world, informing and entertaining us, showing events and places we cannot attend in person. The role of audiovisual content in our lives is becoming increasingly important as it is a way of trying to understand the world and communicate with our fellow human beings.

Every year, on 27 October, UNESCO invites you to celebrate World Audiovisual Heritage Day. This year's motto is - Your window to the world. Audiovisual heritage is not an abstract and distant concept, it is a stopped moment of time, a fixed event, a place, people, preserved memories. Audiovisual testimonies serve as a storehouse of entertainment, culture, knowledge and also our memories, and they can also tell your story, your truth, your existence.

Latvian National Archives Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents as one of the largest Latvian audiovisual heritage custodians encourages all to note Audiovisual Heritage Days and 1 October in the digital storage open for public viewing all archives accumulated about 3,000 big name newsreels collection, designed for the period from 1910 to 1996, and is the richest and most widely used collection of documents in the archives. To tell about current events of his time, various developments in political, social and cultural life, the collection of film chronicles in a narrower sense allows to get acquainted with specific events, places and people, and more broadly - to understand the historical changes that have affected Latvia during the 20th century. Genres consist of film magazines, chronicles, documentaries, which last a total of 450 hours.

The digital repository is available for viewing in the 20th – 30th centuries of Latvia in the 20th century. The works of Arnolds Cālītis (1883–1972), Jānis Sīļa (1886–1970), Mārtiņš Lapiņa (1873–1954), Eduards Kraucs (1898–1977), the most prominent Latvian film chroniclers. In 1921, the production of regular film chronicles began with the film magazine "Events of the Day", followed by A. Cālītis' weekly film magazine "Latvian Film Chronicle" (1922–1928), ”. It is possible to view 50 different film magazines of the 1920s, which reflect the achievements of the first decade of Latvia, the opening of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia, the first President Jānis Čaksti, visits of senior government officials, national holidays, army parades, song festivals, portraits of developments.

The main creator of the 1930s chronicles in Latvia is Eduards Kraucs. Already in 1931, his first "Chronicle of Latvian Sounds" was published, but from 1934 to 1940, the "Chronicle of Latvian Sounds" by E. Kraucs was published weekly. The digital repository contains more than 200 “Chronicles of Latvian Sound” created by E. Kraucs and his other films. Visual evidence tells about the development of Latvia as an independent state, economic achievements, culture, sports. The chronicles of this period also include the period of authoritarian rule by Kārlis Ulmanis.

The chronicles also reflect the loss of Latvia's independence in 1940 and the Soviet era in 1940-1941. per year. Mention should be made of the chronicle "Elections of the Latvian People's Saeima", the film magazines "Weekly Review" created by Pēteris Vasaraudis, as well as the film magazine "Soviet Latvia".

The period of occupation of Nazi Germany is covered by the film magazines in the archives from 1942 to 1944 - "Ausland Woche", "Ostland Woche", "Die Deutsche Wochenschau".

The archive contains the most complete collection of Soviet-era film magazines "Soviet Latvia", "Art", "Sports Review", "Pioneer", "Soldier", "Rural Chronicle" and others, which reflect the course of life in Latvia from 1944 to 1990. Among the authors are such directors as Nikolajs Karmazinskis, Aleksandrs Jevsikovs, Hermanis Šuļatins, Irina Masa, Alois Brenčs, Laimons Gaigals, Laima Žurgina, Biruta Veldre, Aivars Freimanis, Imants Brils, Andris Rozenbergs, many others as Akis Epners, Arsis cameramen Vadims Mass, Gunārs Bandēns, Valdis Kroģis, Dmitrijs Verhoustinskis, Uldis Brauns, Gvido Skulte, Oļegs Kotovičs, Kalvis Zalcmanis, Ivars Seleckis, Rūta Urbaste, Juris Podnieks, Jānis Celms and many others. On average, 10-minute film magazines reveal life's events, starting with the most important political events and ending with cultural and sports news. In the digital repository you can see more than 2,100 film magazines "Soviet Latvia", created during the Soviet period from 1944 to 1988.

The period of awakening was documented in the cinema chronicles of the late 1980s. The period of regaining Latvia's independence and further development is revealed in 1990-1996. They cover the historical manifestations in Daugavmala, the adoption of the Declaration of the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia, the barricades of January 1991, and the events of August 1991. The digital repository contains approximately 155 film magazines created between 1990 and 1996. The tradition of making film magazines in Latvia unfortunately ends in 1996.

The collection of film chronicles published in the digital repository has been digitized within the framework of the ERDF project “Digitization of Cultural Heritage Content (Round 1)”.

Movie chronicles, which are protected by copyright, are available for viewing only in the territory of Latvia.

We invite everyone to watch the extensive and thematically diverse collection of Latvian film chronicles in the digital repository, which opens a window into our history in the recent and distant past, allowing us to look at both collective and private stories, which together form our national cultural and historical heritage. In the digital repository we offer free access to information, the opportunity to select documents of interest, create lists and special selections of documents that meet the wishes and goals of each user.

Additional information:
Dace Bushhan
Director of the Latvian State Archive of Film and Photophono Documents