Inta Ruka is a photographer well - known in Latvia. She was one of two Latvian photographers invited to take part at the international Stockholm project for photography Under/Exposed on the eve of 1999. The biennial in Venice, the recent exhibition at Riga Gallery… But on weekends and summer holidays Inta, as usual, will travel to farmsteads at the remote parts of Latvia or walk through the suburbs of Riga taking pictures of her country people.
"I started to make my photo series, "My Country People", in 1983. The theme of my photographic researches is the region my parents lived - Balvi district. I am interested mainly in portraying country people in their natural environment with their familiar things around, feeling safe and comfortable," says Inta Ruka.
As to the photographer herself, in spite of the international success of the recent years she has been working as an office-cleaner at the Embassy of Sweden for nine years and the ambassador allows her to devote one day a week for photo.
Inta is not a Bohemian type. Her family has always been quite poor. Her mother could not find a job for a long time after returning from the deportation in Siberia - she worked as a janitor, later as an office-cleaner. The father died in his young years leaving Inta living with her mother in their small, one-room janitor’s flat. After finishing a vocational school Inta worked as a tailor at later - as a laboratory assistant at the institution of a hospital where she had the possibility to develop her pictures once a week.
This will not be a portrait in film of the photographer Inta Ruka. Inta will rather be the co-author of a film about people taken in her pictures, their life and destinies after the years of the Communist rule, about the attempts of these marginal folks to try to find (or not) their place in the newly-formed post-totalitarian society requiring the freedom of personality and defending one’s individuality.
Inta is doing a lot of talking to the people she is taking in her the pictures, as Latgalians are talkative. To find a common language she has to give them a hand at work as well as drink some of their strong homemade beer.
In the course of conversation a person is asked for a permission to have his or her picture taken. In order to do that one should sit still but talking to Inta is so interesting and everyone feels so free that it succeeds. Inta says she can make a photo only of a person sitting, standing or laying still. Besides only the natural circumstances and lighting (!) makes one feel free.
Inta takes photos with an old camera on a stand, looking in her camera from the top. Her first camera, the Soviet Zorkij, was a present from the mother in the 70s when Inta finished school. The second one, 1936’s Rolleiflex, was bought in 80s for the money mother saved for her funeral. In 1999 Inta buys her a new one - this time it is Rolleiflex, made in 1950s.
It is important to add that Inta is taking only black-and-white pictures.
Inta Ruka’s portraits are an attempt to reveal people in the world and to reveal the world in people. It is also an attempt to approach the most important and eternal questions.
The Structure of the Film.
The material shot by us will be arranged in eight stories, each from five to seven minutes long, each following some unusual destiny of one family or a person from birth till death… Inta’s portraits in photos as well as their own comments will unite these life stories.
There could appear interesting compatibility or, just vice versa, incompatibility among the possible manner of event reports, color film shots, editing of the black-and-white still photos, as well as all the possible kinds of the original sound in the filmic parts and the contrasting sound score in the episodes with still photos. This possibility of contrasts not only in the contents but also in form will help to keep up the constant interest of the audience. Optimism, humor, irony and self-irony, blending of paradoxes characteristic to Inta herself will provide for the prevailing atmosphere and style of the film.
Inta, her life story and her commentaries upon the fates of people, revealed gradually, will be the leading story line of the film pulling the plot together and bringing it from the beginning to the end.