The film studio “Mistrus Media” in the streets of Riga has started shooting a series of films “Emilija. Queen of the Latvian Press ”. It will herald the freedom of the press and the role of a unique, strong and bright personality in Latvia in the 1920s and 1930s. The queen of the press, Emilija Benjamins, is played in the film by actress Guna Zariņa, who admitted that this role is a big challenge for her.
The actress said that the film will start in the morning of the day when Emilija Benjamiņa reveals her idea to create the magazine “Atpūta”, when “Jaunākās Ziņas” has already taken a stable place in Latvia.
“And Emilia is not enough, because something has already been done. And now she has fantasized about what it takes for a man of her time, that a person wants not only to know, not just to read about things that are happening in the world, but really wants to see beautiful pictures. All the kiosks are full of what seems obvious. But what at that time is not yet self-evident. She has seen, she is following what is going on in the world, what is happening in Europe, and then you can also see what is going on in “Rest”. Emilia is better acquainted with European affairs and also with Hollywood cinema and some other things than her sister, who lives in Berlin or Vienna at that time. Because it is such a great passion, ”said Guna Zariņa.
Vermane garden. Next to the flower market, there is a press kiosk, unusual posters are glued to the poster pole and the newspaper boy carries out the “Latest News”. The atmosphere of the first free state of Latvia in the 1920s prevails. Film studio “Mistrus Media” has started a fifty-day filming marathon, shooting the historical multi-series film “Emilija. Queen of the Latvian Press ”. At its center – the publisher of “Jaunāko Ziņu” and “Atpūtas”, the legendary personality Emīlija Benjamiņa.
The film’s producer Gints Grūbe revealed that the filming began with several outdoor episodes, press scandals, Emilija Benjamiņa’s idea magazine “Awakening” and how she goes to find out what other media are writing about.
Asked whether the story of a historical film would be based primarily on real facts and events, the producer said: “Because history teaches half-jokes that historians cannot be believed, we based our research on a wide variety of sources, both historical and subjective. Of course, it is a feature film with the great addition of imagination given by our many screenwriters and directors, and also by historical consultants, because its interpretations of history are different. ”
Grūbe also noted that in Benjamin’s story “from today’s point of view, the unique thing to talk about is that she was such a flagship of press freedom until a certain time. Given that we are currently talking about the fact that most of the media have become such PR projects, quoting Nellie Lochmel – in this respect, “Latest News” and Emilija Benjamins and Anton Benjamins were really the flagships of press freedom for a while.
“She was a unique personality for her time, then she became a legend, which we also deconstruct when telling this series.
A strong, extraordinary woman. The most amazing thing about the research is the whole period when this empire collapsed and how the closest people in her editorial office also became her traitors and in a sense indirect killers, ”explained Grūbe.
The bright, contradictory personality of Emilija Benjamiņa with dizzying success and tragic fate is portrayed by actress Guna Zariņa, and her husband Antonis Benjamins – Juris Bartkevičs.
Speaking about Benjamin’s personality, Guna Zariņa noted: “Maybe on a different scale, but I think such women are full of Riga, all big cities are full of such people. Her mother was a widow, and she decided never to live the way her mother lived. Her talent was also that – she knew how to make money, she wanted to make money. I think it’s very modern. “
But in general, the actress described Benjamin as an independent, stubborn, sometimes not very empathetic person, admitting: “I have a great challenge with this image.”
The actress explained this challenge, pointing out that she has never played the role of women on such a large scale in cinema – despite the fact that, according to Zariņa, “speeches” roam around Riga, that she is the most filmed Latvian actress.
“In general, I don’t think of any of the main roles I would have played in a movie that can live a whole life,” Zariņa noted.
“She is a relatively very, very controversial image, I think I feel such a heavy climb.
She lives in a completely different world than I do in some ways. But of course, what connects her with the many characters I’ve played is that she’s very gifted in her field. I may not be an expert in this field, so I have a very interesting path ahead of me. ”
Zariņa said about the image of Emilija Benjamiņa’s husband Anton, “My husband, who will be played by Juris Bartkevičs, is a generation older than Emilija and much softer in nature than Emilija in some way. Also a fairly recognizable model is that a younger woman comes to her older husband, and that Anton wants to live a peaceful old age, at least at the moment when the film begins. They do not lack the funds in that sense. They live quite well, but Emilia’s obsession with the fact that she is never good enough, she needs more and more, and more … And I don’t mean just in terms of money, although it’s not insignificant, but that they need more and more challenges. She is always fascinated by something that interests me. And Anton cannot stand in front of the river that wants to flow forward. He always says “no, no, no”, but in the end he gives up. “
Work on the film is happening at a very fast pace, as only in September this year received support In the tender announced by the National Film Center and the Ministry of Culture for the production of a high-quality and artistically high-quality series, a series of films as part of a support program for the cultural sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the declared emergency.
The series of three multi-series films will be made by director Andis Mizišs, two – by Kristīne Želve, but the last, most tragic – by Dāvis Sīmanis, while the concluding seventh – the documentary – will be made by Gints Grūbe.
Commenting on the start of filming, Andis Mizišs admitted:
“For myself, it has been grafted into something since childhood – Benjamin’s house, which I walked past, and it seemed something mystical, mysterious, which no one really talked about during the Soviet era.
And then at home only from the father could do and from the mother [uzzināt], but they didn’t want to say much about it either. “
Because I remember a curiosity from the Soviet era when my father was listening to the Free Europe radio at home and I had to lead a political information class. And I also turned on “Free Europe”, which seemed like normal news. I wrote in a notebook and read a normal political briefing in front of the class. And then you can imagine what happened next, because, of course, those facts were in a completely different interpretation. It’s about a comparison to the level I knew about all this at the time, but I live with the idea that it’s something very mysterious, interesting, that needs to be present, ”recalls Mizišs.
According to him, a large part of society still lives with this myth and feeling.
“The life story of Emilia Benjamin and Anton Benjamin and their business story, which this film is about, is something that we could each envy from today’s point of view.
Because the background of the time on which it all took place, the big words we read about in encyclopedias today, it was all a part of their lives.
They were the most famous publicists of that time, public figures, writers who worked in the editorial office, where a separate film could be made for each, what role they further played in both the fate of Benjamin and the fate of Latvia, be it Vilis Lācis or Blaus; there is a bouquet of people of that time that has influenced the fate of all the people of that time and the fate of Latvia to the present day, ”the director emphasized. “And it’s amazing how many years have passed since independence, and only now are we making such a film, such a series! Somewhere those Benjamins were bypassed. ”
Misišs also pointed out that Benjamins’ story is ambiguous. “Anyone who will recover or read any publications that have been about them in those days, or memories, or what is being written now – here is a rather controversial person Emilija, but it is already the most interesting in cinema, because no one is interesting to watch about a person who is either completely white or completely black, the interesting thing here is that her personality is so multifaceted, ”the director explained, emphasizing also:
“This is a unique story where any generation will find their dose of dramaturgy, including those who have not heard of Benjamin today and to whom it has nothing to say.”
Meanwhile, Wagner’s hall has turned into the editorial office of “Latest News” and “Recreation”, which is decorated with the real desk of Anton Benjamin received from the Benjamin family.
“The historical editorial office of” Jaunāko Ziņu “was not so far away, it was on Kalēju Street, its house no longer exists,” producer Gints Grūbe knew. “Many things have been preserved from the historical heritage of Benjamins, the House of Fabs stands in its place, the Benjamin House we know, the famous summer house on Jūras Street, which Emilija and Anton built and completed in 1939.”
An interpretation created by artists Kristīne Jurjāne and Aivars Žukovskis about what the “Latest News” was was arranged in the Wagner Hall.
“We are grateful to everyone who shared the artifacts of that time for filming purposes,” Grūbe emphasized.
Multi-series films “Emilia. The Queen of the Latvian Press ”is scheduled to premiere in a year – in the autumn of 2021, but in 2022 the series will be shown by Latvian Television.