On August 29, the actress and director Dzidra Ritenberga (1928-2003) will celebrate her 95th birthday, and the Films.lv portal of the National Film Center, in cooperation with the State Film and Photo Archive of the Latvian National Archive, celebrates this fact with an extensive collection of jubilee films – 17 feature films (1956-1990) , in which the development of the handwriting of both the actress and the director can be traced. From August 29, all films in the collection are available online to the public throughout Latvia free of charge and without time limit.
Dzidra Ritenberga is a unique personality in the history of Latvian cinema – a bright and temperamental actress who turned to directing in the prime of her creative life and created important films, most often in the center of which are emotionally filled female characters, hardened by difficult destinies. . Dzidra Ritenberg is also the most respected Latvian film actress at the international level – for her leading role in the feature film by Ukrainian filmmakers “Malva” (1956), she was awarded the Volpi Cup of the Venice Film Festival as the best actress of the year, thus ranking talented Latvians among world-class film stars.
Dzidra Ritenberga, who was born in Kurzeme, near Dundagas, chooses the path of an actress early, and her first film role coincides with the revival of domestic cinema in the post-war years – the new director Varis Krumins invites her to make short films for his dissertation Cause and Effect (1956) in an ensemble cast, and the spectacular minister of Dzidra Ritenberg stands out in this gallery of characters with sparkling vitality. Soon Varis Krumins entrusts the actress with the main role in the film. Echo (1959), in the film adaptation of Janis Jaunsudrabinsh’s novel “Aija”, and “Aija” by Dzidra Ritenberg are at the same time boldly reckless, reservedly tragic and full of contradictions. Once again, the actress collaborated with director Vari Krumini in the film. Warpath Heirs (1971)playing a young and energetic collective farm chairman, as opposed to the veteran character played by Karlis Sebra.
It is significant that the strength of the actress’s personality prompted other directors to give her similar roles – in the image system of Soviet times, the collective farm chairman is a well-known symbol of energetic activity, the ability to solve problems and act. decisively manage a large team, but also experience emotional upheaval; this role is played by Dzidra Ritenbergas Elma in the film directed by Peteras Krylov. The door is open for you (1984).
Among the early roles of Dzidra Ritenberg, the jubilee collection also highlights the most amusing image of inspector Velta Rose in the film directed by Ada Neretniece “Your happiness” (1960), which was elegantly described by film critic Daira Abolina (in the afterword to Dzidra Ritenberg’s memoirs “Es atradu”). laimi, 2021) – “In fact, it is Ritenberg’s charisma that saves the producer romance of this film from the era.”
The brightest peak in the series of acting works of Dzidra Ritenberg of the 70s is the “young grandmother” Mirdza, the mother-in-law of the protagonist of the classic comedy Janis Streich. My Friend – The Frivolous Man (1975), and this glamorous character also has a lot of credit for making the film particularly popular. Together with Janis Streichu, the image of an experienced and stern, but humanely caring doctor is also created in the drama. Remember or Forget (1981)The medical worker character is also played by Dzidra Ritenberg in director Andras Rozenberg’s debut feature film. Reflection in the water (1977). On the other hand, another energetic and scandalous mother-in-law is Mikulans Elsa in the film about family problems directed by Boleslav Ruza. Thunderbird (1974) with Jirta Yakovlev as the former son-in-law.
Along with other roles in the cinema of the mid-70s, Dzidra Ritenberga is already ripe for a new stage in her creative activity, she is studying theater directing and making her debut as a film director with a feature film. That Dangerous Balcony Door (1976). An important theme, tense dramaturgy and an ensemble of young actors ensure the success of the debut, and Ritenberg confidently continues his creative path, paying special attention to the images of strong but complex women; The director’s companion in several films is the beautiful actress Astrid Kairis. Their first joint work is the two-part film “Three Minutes of Flight”, which includes the path of the heroine Kairishi from childhood on a farm through military experience to summing up her life’s work. A melodramatic story about a woman’s right to personal happiness – a feature film Evening Variation (1980)but ten years later, Dzidra Ritenberg is making a two-part feature film Waltz for Life (1990)which becomes her last directorial work and last collaboration with Astrid Kairis, but at the same time a great starting point for the young actress Baiba Brock, receiving the “Big Kristaps” as the best actress for her film debut.
A separate thematic block in the work of Dzidra Ritenberg, since the director sets himself increasingly serious professional tasks, are suspense films, sometimes with elements of a psychological detective story or criminal intrigue. The film takes place in a disturbing atmosphere of post-war banditry. The Longest Straw (1982), which Rittenberg considered her best directorial work; a peculiar genre of “foreign detective” includes a murder investigation in the film
Last Report (1986)the action of which takes place in Germany, but the potential of the thriller in a seemingly simple everyday situation is clearly demonstrated by the psychological drama House with No Exit (1988)where a secret couple of lovers (played by Inara Slutskaya and Jož Budraitis) and three escaped prisoners (among them also Irts Kesteris in his first film role) endure a tragic confrontation.
There was also a movie made in the 80’s. Stranger Things (1985)where a little homeless girl creates problems and complications in the lives of many adults, unwittingly exposing lies and half-truths.
The collection of commemorative films of Dzidra Ritenberg can be viewed on the Filmas.lv portal from August 29 for an unlimited time, thus adding to the permanently available collection of the history of Latvian cinema. We thank Dace Busante, Head of the State Film and Photo Archive of the Latvian National Archives, for the response and cooperation; The creation of film collections is also supported by the Center for Cultural Information Systems (KISK), which ensures the technical operation of the portal. The Films.lv portal, which is also an extensive database of the film industry, is created and maintained by the National Film Centre.
Actress and director Dzidra Ritenberga (1928–2003). Photo: Riga Film Museum