Cover photo: Artūrs Pavlovs. Skier- Edvards Lansmanis. Location - Riga, Latvia.
Skilluminati is a crew of skiers straight out of Latvia of all places. You might have come across their second ski movie, “SKLMNTI” or seen their photos pop up on Newschoolers from time to time. But you wouldn't exactly call them well-known. Latvia, which is sandwiched between Estonia and Lithuania in Baltic Europe if you didn't know, has a population of just two million. And it is not, it has to be said, well known for its skiing.
Historically there always have only been a few dozen people who are actively involved in freeskiing there. There are no mountains, no indoor slopes, and inconsistent snowfall. Which makes ODA all the more impressive. And let's be clear, even as without context, it's a crazy movie. It took six (yep you read that right, six!) years to make thanks to several snowless winters. But perhaps even more impressive is that this is a movie with skiing in it, rather than a ski movie. Stunningly shot and produced, it's like nothing else we have ever watched.
Photo - Artūrs Pavlovs. Skier- Einārs Lansmanis. Location - Riga, Latvia
Presenting the work as a feature film is certainly a risk. It oversteps traditional modern ski movie lines, perhaps that's why they didn't make the IF3 cut. It's certainly more than ski porn. Named after the ode, a form of poetry that has its origins in ancient Greece, it challenges the viewer with a sometimes serious and sometimes satirical tone. Odes were classically dedicated to an event or a hero. In the film, the ode is a dedication to everything that the main character, played by an actor (who is also a skier) from Valmiera Drama Theater, Pauls Iklāvs, survives in his pursuit of the sport.
Photo- Alberts Vieglins Skier - Pauls Iklāvs Location - Riga, Latvia
Skis have been used by humans since the Ice Age, but their usage has changed as a result of both global and man-made conditions. The movie focuses on skiing the city streets, perhaps the ultimate end of that progression. The film was made in the style of mountaineering and art-house films of the 1920s and 1930s, adapted to the modern era by the filmmakers. It's mysterious throughout and does not reveal the full picture to the viewer until the curtain close. ODA is certainly unique and well worth a watch. After a Latvian TV screening, ODA will premiere online exclusively on Newschoolers on Monday 24th May.