VELLA KALPI (1970): a carnivalesque costume drama from Soviet Latvia at SSEES 100 Film Festival

On Thursday 12th of November the SSEES Centenary Film Festival will show a 1970 Soviet Latvian comedy costume drama film VELLA KALPI (The Devil’s Servants), written and directed by Aleksandrs Leimanis and produced by Riga Film Studio.

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It’s the midst of 30-year war, when Riga, then free-town, is fighting back both Swedish and Polish armies. City Council is thorn in doubt, as two main spiritual leaders – the Head of Catholic monastery Elizabete and the Head of Lutheran Protestant Church Samsons fight for power and influence. Regional aristocracy has their interest in Riga, too. Despite of treachery and indecision inside City Council, three defendants of Riga, young, brave and fierce, deliver one surprise blow after other to attackers, fall in love and happily escape sure death, despite all odds.

In 1972, Riga Film Studio released a sequel to this film named VELLA KALPI VELLA DZIRNAVĀS (Devil’s servants in the Devil’s mill).

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Director of Riga Film Museum Zane Balčus comments on the film:

imagesVELLA KALPI is a carnivalesque period piece set in the 17th century. It is one of the most popular adventure stories in the history of Latvian cinema, and it managed to become the highest grossing Latvian film in the USSR market in the late 1960s and the 1970s. The film demonstrates the transition towards total escapism from reality and ideological implications through the story of three courageous men defending the city of Riga from the Swedish army, as well as from the local politicians who want to give up the city without a fight”.

The film will be screened with brand new top-notch English subtitles, courtesy of translators Inese Strupule and Nick Massey.

The screening will take place at Bloomsbury Theatre, November 12, 18.30.

Book your tickets here.

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