ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival 2012 hosted its 7th edition, March 30th through April 1st where “M Farm” won Best European Documentary.
Rita Broka worked as a journalist for an evening news programme called “Panorama,” a 90′s patriotic talkshow in Latvia. Now she feels she has fully become a “film person.” This was especially felt after the National Film Centre in Latvia raised hope and mentioned they would honor several films produced by Broka.
The meaning behind “M Farm” …
“It is a conflict between common people and the Custody Court, which exists in any country where social workers believe they govern the infinite truth,” Broka explains surely.
“Through my work experience at the TV station and the permission of Vineta, the leading character in the film, I was presented with the chance to film the story,” continues the director.
“I was working on a weekly programme at the Children Crisis Center when I came across a horrifying story going on in a small, lovely village in Latvia. A grandmother named Dangira had sexually abused her grand daughter with a fellow employee and boyfriend, Thadeus.
Broka commented, “As usual, I had a feeling – an intuition. I was curious to find out where the mother of this little girl had disappeared.”
Broka did some research and discovered that fifty percent of women who had postpartum depression, like Vineta, spent hours and hours crying. Her grandmother, who had abused her, sent her to a psychiatric treatment center. However, the doctors said that is was a one time phenomenon and that she was fully capable of raising her own child.
“Crimes like these – crimes within a family – are the worst. This is because nobody pays attention. Everyone pretends that everything is ok. They act as if it happens only in Austria, a case where a father kept his daughter locked away,” continues Broka.
In England, for instance, 48,000 children chose to leave their homes instead of staying with parents because of their family situation. A family, which is supposed to be a place of heart warmth and protection, is not always provided the latter. In addition, one of the reasons they defined Vineta as “insane” was the fact that she was not able to survive with 30 lats – the equivalent of around 50 euros a month!”
What are your thoughts or feelings while watching “M Farm” or “Monster Farm”?
I don’t watch my films. I make them and never come back to them again.
Did your film go as planned?
Actually, I had a different idea how to end the film, but a last minute phone call changed everything. It was Vineta that called. She mentioned that was going move in and live with the father of her children. But, she also explained that she had found out that he was in love with another woman. This time he had fallen for a 65-year-old woman who feed him well, taught him not to swear, gave him piano lessons, and loved him a lot apparently! So, nothing went as planned.
The English subtitles on your film are done by a popular TV and radio journalist in Latvia named Karlis Streips?
Yes. He was the third employee to do the job because the other two could not manage due to the “specific” language used.
What kind of reaction do you expect from your audience after watching your film?
Let’s see… The film has only ten percent of all the raw material. Otherwise, the storyline would not be the same. It could have gone in any number of directions. The film could have been a story about how people were locked in the farm and the farm doors were blocked by tractors and they could not escape, or how a black car followed us during filming, or how I would never want to buy milk from big companies knowing how the milk barrels are being washed.
Are you working on any projects now?
Currently I am working on two films. The first one is called “Real Father” and will be about the strongest mafia in Europe right now. It will be a story where a couple gets married, have a baby, and then the baby becomes a victim of a crime. There is a witness and the child becomes a target.
And the other film is called “Dangerous Age” and depicts a troublesome teenage period. Broka says that the second film will be done in collaboration with her 15-year-old daughter, Kristine. Both attended last weeks festival and were thrilled by their achievement.
How would you describe the independent films industry in Latvia?
If you want to do make a film, all you have to do is to grab a camera, film, and take part in something. Nobody is stopping you! You are free to express yourself. However, finances are not always available.
“M Farm” has been sponsored by the Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia and the National Film Centre of Latvia, the first a governmental institution and the second a private company, “ADverts tipografija,” and Ivan Svans, my long term business partner.