#STAYATHOME SHORLIST. 7+ online gems for your best quality entertainment when stuck in Riga. UPDATED 31.03.20.

Living through the covid-19 lockdown in Riga isn't actually a bad thing! Rent is usually cheaper than in many other cities in Europe, and the Internet connection here is great. The density of people and chances contracting the illness is also very low compared to other global metropolitan hotbeds of the coronavirus (on March 28, there were 305 positive cases of covid-19 nationally, making it around 2,4% average of all the tested with more than a half of them in Riga). After all, Latvians are also world-renowned as the #introvert champs (particularly because we hate each other), and we have sufficient provisions of toilet paper. Full house, sick people!

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Yet, even a light form of self-isolation can bring sorrow and raise existential questions. Some "inspirational" social media posts from random people motivate us to "take the best out of #stayingathome!", while some think twice and try "not to make anything out of it, but finally relax and meditate." (If you want to find out more how Latvia is doing during lockdown, we have created a comprehensive article that gets updated daily.)

At least, an informative campaign called #ēkultura, endowed with a terrible font and supervised by the Ministry of Culture, was launched to, as usual, please the Latvian speakers. CAPITAL R instead offers a top notch selection of great English-friendly content like Latvian movies, locally performed online concerts, virtual urban tours, and more!

In order to avoid overload of options and choices, we tried to focus on selecting things being offered only because of this particular coronavirus time, thus making this article a realtime Quentin Quarantino event shortlist of online culture! Here you go!

DVĒSEĻU PUTENIS

A movie that would become the most watched motion picture in the contemporary Latvian history, is now available online for a lower price one would pay at cinemas. Being rated as one of the best Latvian works of cinema recently, "Blizzard of Souls" revisits a famous novel by Aleksandrs Grīns about a boy, who "decides to join the national battalions of the Imperial Russian army in hopes of finding glory. He goes on to fight in World War I where he loses his father and brother and quickly becomes disillusioned."

HERZ FRANK'S "WHITE BELLS"


For some, the capital of Latvia is known as the birthplace of "Riga poetic documentary cinema school". In 1961, a movie about a little girl wandering around Riga and looking for little white flowers was released to become a milestone of this genre. Directed by Ivars Kraulītis, its script was composed by Herz Frank, one of the most prominent Latvian documentary script writers and directors of all time. Not only "White Bells" became well recognizable, it also transformed from a feature film into an urban documentary, capturing many features of the face of Riga 60 years ago - features that have changed a lot or not at all today.
CAPITAL R have organized a live stream on YouTube as a guided tour about Riga on 25 MARCH where places as shown in "White Bells" and as they appear now 60 years apart were visited. Follow our Facebook or subscribe on YouTube for more info.

INDYGO - lockdown session

"Indygo" is an alternative rock and progressive rock band formed in 2002 in Riga. They were probably the first band to record a live full-length concert during lockdown (on 27 March) that is also available here.

KLEJOTĀJI

"The Wanderers" by the young, emerging and hard-working Latvian director, Matīss Kaža, was the first cultural project pushed online for everyone to watch for a half price one would pay at cinemas. A freshly released, vivid and existential documentary about 3 young Latvian adults residing in the USA, Japan, and Latvia and trying to figure out what life means and what's their place in it. 

MAHLER'S FIFTH SYMPHONY 

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Performed by the grand Latvian National Symphony Orchestra to an empty concert hall, the huge and impressive Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler was the very first and, for now, the only concert to be performed online in Latvia exactly right after the State announced covid-19 lockdown starting from 13 March. You can find the performance here at straume.lmt.lv.

MĒRIJAS CEĻOJUMS

Despite this documentary being published online already some 1,5 years ago, it surfaced again during the lockdown, and we still believe this is one of the very best outcomes during the Latvian centenary film programme (we already described the best of them here). A tragic, yet necessary story of two patrician Mērijas - the keeper of museum collection who saved it from the Nazis during WWII, and her mother who waited her daughter coming back home.

PIĻSĀTA PI UPIS

The most popular local movie this year ended its walk of fame due to covid-19 outbreak and could not further compete with other most-watched films in Latvia. Luckily, the generally well praised story of a painter and decorator, living is a small town and seeing reigns, street names, and women passing by, is now available online for a lower price one would pay at cinemas. The movie is only available in Latvia.

MORE INFO

There are some other good ways to kill time by indulging into Latvian culture and finding something new. We mention them here, because most of these have existed long before and, in reality, have nothing to do with changing habits due to coronavirus. Also, again, some sources were made when not considering English speakers, so we'll pass them.
  • MUSIC. Very eclectic, academic music playlist from Latvia by Latvians - skani.lv on Spotify;
  • VIDEO. Multimedia dance performance that became one of the highlights of the Latvian Centenary in 2018 an was awarded nationally and internationally - Abas Malas;
  • PHOTO. Good looking, ascetic, highly visual, documental and comprehensive story on the construction of Ķegums hydro-electric power plant in the late 1930s on their museum's website;
  • 360°. Although not translated in English, this virtual guide to Rundāle Palace will make your mouth water. Plus, it's also all shiny and green;
  • VIDEO. After a stunning exhibition "The Turn" at the National Library of Latvia about the game-changing Lutheranism in Europe, a virtual documentation of it was made available. Here you can have a look of its design, but, when clicking on Themes, great thematic (and short) videos will be available;
  • PHOTO. Landscape treasures is a fantastic project with a good looking, yet no so fantastically UX-related website. It's main idea - to capture gems of Latvian landscapes that define each of the country's region;
  • BOOK. Buy an e-book by Jānis Joņevs, called "Doom 94". One of the best literary breakthroughs in Latvia in the last decade or more - a story of a teenager in a town in Latvia entering the world of heavy music in the beginning of 1990's. You can also buy used books in English on robertsbooks.lv;
  • MUSIC. A year ago we wrote about meditation and mindfulness in Riga. For that, we also created an ambient, Latvian-classical-music-inspired album on Bandcamp. Enjoy yourself when taking a break and downshifting!

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