Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Satiksimies Garezerā!" - Movie & Fireworks

Other than seeing many friends and spending time with family, the part of Garezers 50th anniversary celebration to which I was most looking forward was the documentary film made by Māra Pelēcis. While many Latvian celebrations include concerts, social get-togethers, and even art exhibits, this may have been the first time that a professional film was made specifically about a Latvian-American organization.

For those who had supported the film as sponsors, we had an opportunity to attend a reception with Māra, her co-producer Cory McLeod, and the film's artist Linda Treija before the film's premier. Held at "Sēnītes" (aka little mushrooms, which in reality are over-sized mushrooms next to benches), we had a chance to chat with them, see Linda's original art which she drew specifically for the film, and enjoy a glass or two of wine.
With Linda
Linda's sketches & drawings. SPs represent!
Catching up with a friend, and being photo-bombed by her son.
The outdoor movie night took place in Dzintari. While walking from Sēnītes to Dzintari, I was awed by the setting sun: a bright orange orb, its golden rays reflecting beautifully in the calm lake.
There was already a great deal of  commotion. Two large screens had been set up - one on the main volleyball court, the other on the kids' beach. Volunteers were selling popcorn, much to the delight of the many children in attendance. Families and groups of friends kept arriving, with blankets and chairs in hand. I know that some of us were a bit afraid that too many folks, being social Latvians who have not seen one another in a long time, would use the screening as another opportunity to chat, but our fears were unfounded. After some short introductions, when the movie began, the audience was silent. It seemed that even the active kids who were playing on the jungle gym during the movie realized they needed to be quiet!
Popcorn eaten, just waiting for the movie to begin!
The film is titled "Satiksimies Garezerā!", which means "Let's meet in Garezers!" A slogan used a couple of decades ago, it is both an accurate slogan and title, as that is precisely what why we travel from around North America to this specific lake in southwestern Michigan - to meet others like us. Once the movie began, for the next 80 minutes the audience, as we say in Latvian, "dzīvoja līdzi" or immersed itself in the experience. There was laughter and much spontaneous applause, there was even an impromptu sing-along to a song in the film. I was most touched when the narrator mentioned Garezers' founder Rev. Vilis Vārsbergs, with an old photo of him appearing on screen, and the audience broke out into applause. After all, without his idea, vision and work, we would not have experienced that meta moment - sitting in Garezers, watching a film about Garezers and about ourselves. Rev. Vārsbergs passed away in the spring of 2012, but his widow, his children and grandchildren were at the celebration.

By all accounts, the film was a huge success, and did an excellent job of showing what Garezers is, and why it is so meaningful to many people. Later I heard a few viewers complain that they would have preferred more about Garezers' history to be reflected in the film, but as Māra explained to me, such a goal would have been difficult to accomplish while keeping the viewers truly engaged. History in the movie was explained via interviews and old photographs, and as Māra said, no one wants to watch a film featuring "talking heads."

After the movie, it was time for something else unusual -- a professional fireworks display, courtesy of donors who specifically funded that. The launch area was behind the pond known as Dūņezers (next to Ods, for those who know Garezers geography well), thus many of us watched from the beach or from the side of the pond. I certainly had never been so close to such an impressive display, although at such a close distance and on a small lake, the noise was at times overwhelmingly loud.
View from side of Dūņezers. Photo credit: Edvīns Rūsis
Other people watched from their lake house balconies, or from boats out on the lake. 
View from the lake. Credit: Ērika Sensnovis
Pretty! Photo credit: Edvīns Rūsis
To many it was a festive and fun conclusion to an enjoyable day. However, there were concerns among some viewers about the environmental impact of the fireworks, as well as how the money (provided by donors specifically for this purpose) could have been utilized for other needs.

After trekking back to the house, it was midnight before anyone got to bed -  incredibly late for a 6 year old and a 2,5 year old, and even a bit too late for others! However, the day had been a memorable one, and yet another day full of Garezers fun awaited.

*Special thanks to Ērika and Edvīns for kindly allowing me to use their photographs!

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to see the movie.... I'll let you know my thoughts in a bit when I see it!


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