Four White Shirts

Četri balti krekli
Director: Rolands Kalniņš

Latvia, Drama, 1967, 77 min., latvian with english and lithuanian subtitles

Middle-aged cultural worker Anita Sondore feels that the song lyrics of the young poet Cēzars Kalniņš, as sung by a youth ensemble, are inappropriate. She writes a letter of complaint to the newspaper, thus setting in motion the system of censorship. “Four White Shirts” is a sensitive and emotional portrayal of the spirit of 1960‘s youth. R. Kalniņš’ dissection of the arts censorship system turned out to be too on point, and therefore – unforgivable. The film was banned from being shown and “shelved”. But it still lived on in legend and through the songs that Imants Kalniņš had composed for the film. The first time it was screened to the public was in 1986, when the songs had already achieved cult status.

About the director:

Rolands Kalniņš was born in 1922 in Istra, Latvia. In 1947 he started working in Riga Film Studio as assistant director, 1960–1990 as a director. He is a member of Latvian Filmmakers Association since 1962. He directed his debut film “Ilze” in 1959. His other notable films include fiction features “Stone and Flinders” (Akmens un šķembas, 1966), “Breathe Deeply” (Elpojiet dziļi, 1967), “Four White Shirts” (Četri balti krekli, 1967), “A Queen‘s Warrior” (Karalienes bruņinieks, 1970), “Ceplis” (1972), “Taper” (Tapers, 1989), “Bitter Wine” (Rūgtais vīns, 2007) and documentaries, such as “Conversation with the Queen” (Saruna ar karalieni, 1980). Rolands Kalniņš is one of the most talented Latvian cinematographers who has had the misfortune of experiencing the ideological rigour and machinations of Soviet censorship. Many of his films were severely censored, forbidden and even almost destroyed (“Maritime Climate” (Piejūras klimats, 1974).

Section: Rolands Kalniņš Film Retrospective

Screenplay: Gunārs Priede

Dir. of Photography: Miks Zvirbulis

Music: Imants Kalniņš

Cast: Arnolds Liniņš, Dina Kuple, Uldis Pūcītis, Līga Liepiņa, Pauls Butkēvičs