Begums

Directed by Ivars Zviedris
  • Ireland
  • 70 minutes
  • 2010

For 15 years, Latvia has been facing an outflow of inhabitants looking for a better life. One of the most popular countries for Latvians is Ireland. There are officially 42,000 Latvians registered in Ireland – unofficially, the number of Ireland’s Latvians is double. Latvian entrepreneur extraordinaire Valdis saw a goldmine in the rocks of north Dublin’s coastline. He recruited an army of Latvians to harvest the seashells all year round, in the most abysmal conditions. But Valdis looks after his people, Latvians from all parts of the social spectrum, from grannies to ex-cons. They have created their own world, with their own place names, their own geography, their own economy, their own society. They found a space in Ireland that the Irish didn’t want – and they filled it.

For this intimate observational documentary, Ivars Zviedris and crew lived with the periwinkle pickers, sharing their celebrations, divisions and troubles.