The Foundation of Criminal Excellence by Latvian director Oskars Rupenheits – a retro crime comedy set deep in the socialist era – is in the running for Febiofest’s New Europe prize. The film follows a TV scriptwriter who, with a friend, begins putting the stories of thieves and con artists into practice. “Depicting somebody who people should watch and at the same time hate is far from easy. He really is an asshole. When we showed the film in a prison, the prisoners told me they’d love to beat him up. He’s not inspired by anybody in particular, but when people asked if it was me, I had to think about it. Perhaps it’s one part of my brain that’s fighting against another part,” the director said in Prague.
Though the film is filled with men Rupenheits denies that it is macho. “The men are the ones who screw everything up, while the female characters are powerful and capable of taking action. My mother inspired one of them.” He also drew on a number of real experiences in the film. “Some of them I wouldn’t even be able to make up,” the filmmaker said.