Introducing IDFF Artdocfest/Riga

Introducing IDFF Artdocfest/Riga

The first International Documentary Film Festival Artdocfest/Riga was take place in Riga, Latvia from April 28 to May 3, 2021 (postponed from November 2020 due to COVID-19).

Audiences are familiar with Artdocfest programmes already since 2014 when for 5 years they were organised in collaboration with RIGA IFF as a part of the festival’s documentary section. The founder of the IDFF Artdocfest/Riga is a non-governmental association “Artdoc Fest & Media”. The festival is supported by the Riga City Council. The partners of the festival are institutions, international foundations and media from around the world.

There were two programs of competition at the festival – Baltic focus and Artdocfest.

Within the framework of the festival a symposium – a creative meeting of documentary filmmakers and theoreticians was held with the aim to create a temporary, inspirational space of thought - transfering the knowledge, highlighting the tendencies and discussing the developments and significant trends in documentary.

Every year a prominent guest – important in the World of Documentary is invited to take part in symposium.

There were industry, public and round table discussions. 


The international documentary film festival Artdocfest started in Moscow, Russia in 2007. In a very short period of time it became one of the most prestigious festivals in Russia and the largest documentary film festival in the territory of the former USSR.

In 2014 the president of the festival Vitaly Mansky moved to Latvia and Artdocfest was invited to join the small family of Latvian film festivals. Artdocfest joined the Riga International Film Festival the same year and became its documentary section. During five years of work in the capital of Latvia Artdocfest grew, developed and became an important part of the cultural life of the city.

Since 2018 Artdocfest has been organizing an international competition in Riga. Every year Latvian premieres have taken place in Riga, sometimes also world premieres for a total of 21 film from more than 10 countries. Since 2018 an international jury has been working in Riga. The members of jury have included such prominent personalities as Alvis Hermanis, Abrams Kleckins, Roman Balayan, Zanna Nemtsov, Galina Timchenko and others.

More than 30 documentaries from all over the world, a large number of representatives of the industry and the international press, as well as wide range of audiences participates in Artdocfest every year. During the festival TV programmes – reportages, talk shows, news clips, roundtable discussions are produced for various channels of international reach. Artdocfest/ Riga programs receive a lot of attention from Latvian and international press. In 2019 alone there were more than 300 publications.

In 2020 it became clear that the scale of Artdocfest/ Riga has significantly exceeded the scope of its activities and a decision was made to create an independent documentary film festival. Leading cinematographers of Latvia supported the idea to announce another international competition program to highlight the documentary of Baltic States. Thus “Baltic focus” competition was born. The further ambitions is to continue the development and expand the geography of the competing films becoming the documentary film festival of importance in Eastern Europe. Artdocfest/ Riga wants to continue the unique and world-famous traditions of Latvian documentary film established by grandmasters such as Juris Podnieks, Herz Frank, Uldis Brauns, Aivars Freimanis, Ivars Seleckis, Laima Zurgina, as well as the organizers of the legendary Riga Documentary Film Symposium and partly the film festival "Arsenals".

Target audience

Our audiences are of the widest range of age - from teenagers to seniors. However, the most active audiences are people between 18 and 55. Often the whole families come to watch a documentary. We gather all nationalities living in Latvia - even small numbered minorities if the film is related to their historical homeland, for example, India, Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan, etc. Not to mention Russian-speaking viewers.

Expected number of viewers

According to our minimum estimates, we plan around 20 screenings in the small hall of the "Splendid Palace" cinema with a total of 4,000 spectators and 3 screenings in the large hall - 1,000 spectators. There will be at least 2,500 more viewers carrying invitations and accreditations. (Unfortunately, not in times of COVID when everything has to be done online.)

Festival organizers and partners

The festival is currently under development stage. Based on the experience of previous years we can name some of our partners.
In Latvia: Riga City Council, European Commission, Latvian Television, Radio Baltkom, Internet magazine “Meduza”, etc.
International organizations and foreign TVs: TV "Current time" (Czech Republic, USA), US Democracy Support Foundation, TV "Deutsche Welle" (Germany), TV "Rain" (Russia).

We are working to receive support also from the Latvian National Film Centre and the State Culture Capital Fund of Latvia, as well as international foundations and private sponsors.

Festival Advisory Board: Zane Balcus (Latvia), Filipp Kruusvall (Estonia), Arunas Matelis (Lithuania), Uldis Cekulis (Latvia). The Advisory Board members are not influencing the selection of the films and work of the Jury.

Publicity of the festival

The existence of a film festival cannot be imagined without publicity. Publicity is its main motivation. It is the motivation of the authors to decide weather to hold the premiere of their film at our festival. At this point we would like to repeat once again that currently the IDFF Artdocfest/ Riga is only eligible for Latvian premieres, however, as the status of the festival increases, it could also become festival with a world premiere status. Publicity undoubtedly increases the status of the festival awards, as well as the commercial realization of the film. Of course, publicity also creates a healthy stir for viewers. The fight for the right to enter the festival program significantly increases the motivation of spectators and improves the financial stability of the event. The organizers of the Artdocfest festival are well aware of this.

At the bottom of this text you can find the list of various publications about the festival, spread over the years. In 2019 there were more than 300 publications about the festival in television, radio, print and internet press in Latvia, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Poland and other countries.

Expected results

Hopefully, it is clear from all written above that intentions of the International Documentary Film Festival “Artdocfest / Riga” are more than ambitious. Let's list them here. To offer the viewers in Riga to watch and meet the authors of the brightest, most spectacular films about the world which we live in. The opportunity to discuss important issues during public panel discussions with documentary filmmakers from different countries with different nationalities, different religious beliefs, different cultural and social contexts. The festival is going to provide a demanded and prestigious platform for the representatives of the film industry and we know - Riga will be noted in the calendars of all leading documentary filmmakers. As a result the development of an internal market for documentary cinema will take place. It will also help Latvian and Baltic documentary cinema to advance in the festivals and markets internationally.

We aim to promote all types of audiovisual culture, as well as be able to discover completely new directions. There is a need to stimulate greater involvement of ordinary people in creative industries. We are not speaking about the professionals only but also about people from different walks of life. The global trend is that the most sought-after filmmakers often turn out to be non-professional cinematographers – they are rather people who have found themselves inside one or another sphere of human activity, developed their own unique view upon science, economics, production, education, sports, etc…and cinema can be created which, if successful, will have an unlimited audience around the world.

We also hope IDFF “Artdocfest / Riga” brand is positioning our city as a living example of open doors to a world where dignity and the fundamental rights of every citizen to speak and create are the basic elements of everyday life.

Welcome to the festival!

Examples of publications 2019

Rain TV

Current time TV

Сurrent time.Doc

Current time.Doc


Radio Liberty

New Newspaper




Glavcom of Ukraine