Juris Podnieks

Juris Podnieks

Juris Podnieks (December 5, 1950 - June 23, 1992) was a Latvian film director and producer.

He graduated from the Soviet VGIK film school in 1975, after which he started working at the Riga Film Studio. He became a director in 1979.

Podnieks' first film "Cradle" won an award at the Leipzig DOK Festival. In 1981, his film "The Brothers Kokar" took the first prize at Kiev Youth Festival. In the same year, his film "Constellation of Riflemen" won honours in the 17th All State Festival in Leningrad and the Latvian Komsomol prize. This was the film that gave Podnieks wide recognition within the Soviet Union.

Podnieks gained international recognition thanks to his movie "Is it easy to be young?". The film was an exploration of Soviet youth, in which Podnieks managed to track down and talk to youngsters later convicted for criminal actions. This movie broke box-office records in the Soviet Union.

As the Soviet Union collapsed, Podnieks cooperated with British TV to give them a first-hand insight on the events in Soviet Union. Over three years, Podnieks in collaboration with the British, filmed a five part documentary titled "Hello, do you hear us?". It showed civil unrest in Uzbekistan, survivors of the earthquake in Armenia, striking workers in Yaroslavl and former residents returning to Chernobyl. The first film in the series was awarded the Prix Italia.

Later, Podnieks filmed movies that focused on the rise of national identity in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. His movie "Homeland" was an account of folk festivals in these countries when national songs which had been banned by the Soviet regime for 50 years, were sung by massed choirs. While filming a follow-up to this movie in January 1991, Podnieks and crew came under sniper fire during an attempted coup in Riga. Podnieks was then beaten up, his cameraman and long time friend Andris Slapiņš was killed and Gvido Zvaigzne, another collaborator and friend of Podnieks, died of injuries. [ [http://www.balticsww.com/keep_filming.htm Latvian Film Podnieks/Slapins ] ] This material was captured on video and showed as an addition to "Homeland", and later as an introduction for the revised version of this film.

Juris Podnieks drowned in a diving accident on 23 June 1992.

References

External links

* [http://www.latfilma.lv/cm/podnieks/index.html Profile on Latfilma website]


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