Lifetime Achievement Award winner: Roze Stiebra
Life can be challenging, crowded with obstacles and barriers that might sometimes seem too high to overcome, and yet somehow there is progress and renewal each and every day. But how does it all work out? What makes the world progress forward?
Well, there are many factors, but first and foremost there is this:
Dedication and perseverance.
The will to keep going despite the challenges.
Roze Stiebra is one of these people. Her impressive productivity over the years, and the achievement of establishing an educational department for animation, for the benefit of others, despite the limitations imposed upon the then citizens of the Soviet Union, makes her an example of this embodiment of dedication and perseverance.
Perhaps an analogy of her journey can be made with one of her main characters, the protagonist of Looking for the Northern Daughter: a boy that chases his true love, despite it always being somewhat out of grasp on the horizon. But nevertheless, with a truthfulness towards himself and the things he encounters along the way. He keeps searching.
And so has Stiebra: Continuously collaborating with a wide range of artists led to the creation of new expressions and emotions that were quite innovative and experimenting of her time. But she not only searched for new expressions, but also of the more subtle and rooted aspects of life, insights into what it means to be. Several of her films deals with the process of dreaming, of imagining, transforming and becoming.
And perhaps one could even draw a parallel between this process of imagination and becoming that is so strong in Stiebra’s works, to the development and strengthening of the Latvian identity during a time where there were only room for the streamlined and highly ideological “New Soviet Person” – which were usually a man anyways. For maintaining a national identity, cultural traditions, folklore and a common metaphorical language is needed. Roze Stiebra was one of those nurturing those vital needs.
When she accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award she said that with every film she has made, she just wants to look forward to the next project, and jovially joked that never being satisfied with her work and always wanting to improve, she is still not shure if she has improved much.
She also made the point that she would never have imagined her work would be seen as it is today, that she would be honoured like this. “You never know” she repeated.
At the later reception of the exhibition dedicated to her works, the Latvian Ambassador said that the work of Stiebra was of such importance for the nation of Latvia that she had already received the Three Stars Order. He also emphasized that her films were ingrained into the modern cultural heritage of Latvians – her films are still watched regularly by both children and parents alike.
This is the statement from Trine Vallevik Håbjørg, Head of the Festival Board on Roze Stibra’s award:
“We are so happy to have our guest of honor here in Fredrikstad; Roze Stiebra from Latvia. And on behalf of the Norwegian Animation Forum, who also are the board of the Fredrikstad Animation Festival, we want to honor her lifelong dedication to the Latvian animation scene.
Since the 1960s, when systematic animation filmmaking began at the Riga Film Studio and at Latvian Television, two strong schools appeared: drawn animation and puppet animation.
Roze Stiebra and Ansis Bērziņš founded the creative team Telefilm at Latvian Television and formed a productive animation studio using the techniques of cut-out and drawn animation. They involved exceptional visual artists and composers in the filmmaking, cultivating a poetic and metaphoric style. For both, close ties with Latvian cultural traditions and folklore imagery is an essential element in their work; this has formed a unique form of expression.
In 1991, Roze Stiebra and Ansis Bērziņš created Studio Dauka, which operated until 2010.
After having created more than 30 films and received plenty of prices, Roze is one of the big stars in the Latvian and Baltic animation scene and she has been a great inspiration for many Baltic animation artist that are blooming today.
Therefore, we want to honor Roze with the Golden Gunnar for Lifetime Achievement.”