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A documentary about a Latvian’s 39-day cycling trip to Rome creates a huge buzz in Latvia

Latvian video artist Edgars Trankalis’ documentary “Rucava–Riga–Rome” has been released in Latvia. The film reveals in an exciting and inspiring way the adventures of the filmmaker, who cycled alone for 39 days on a 3222 km long, psychologically and physically challenging journey on different roads and mountain trails from Rucava (a small town in the south-west of Latvia) to Rome. The film has created an extraordinary buzz in Latvia – after its premiere in the cinema and on national television, the public space, both in the media and on social networks, has literally “exploded”, with people praising the courage and dedication of the filmmaker, inspiring thousands of Latvians to achieve their goals.

At the premiere at Splendid Palace, Edgars Trankalis, the creator and protagonist of the film, shared his thoughts on why everyone should watch this film: “The film aims to inspire, excite and motivate everyone to become more active and thoughtful, ready to set high goals and fight to achieve them. To show that anyone is capable of reaching incredible and challenging heights, if they are willing to commit fully and not give up at the first failure or setback. The form or type of goal is irrelevant. It can be as much in sport and business as in art and science. Or in any other chosen field. Anything is possible – the key is to be fearless, to want and to do.”

In the film, video artist Edgars Trankalis left his parents’ home in Rucava on his bicycle on 1 June 2021 and set off alone on a challenging journey with one goal – to reach Rome in 40 days. Rucava is a small town in south-western Latvia, 44 km from one of the country’s largest cities – Liepaja, 8 km from the Baltic Sea coast and only 4 km from the Lithuanian border. The town only has about 700 inhabitants. His route was intentionally designed to both test his strength and enjoy unforgettable moments and sights. It took him along different paved and sandy roads, as well as various mountain paths and trails.

What made the journey more challenging was the fact that the filmmaker was determined to capture it all himself. To keep the bike manoeuvrable and as light as possible, Edgars Trankalis equipped himself with just a few, simple and small cameras and a drone. This required some effort and extra time to charge the camera batteries and save the footage.

“It is a story of courage, of testing one’s strength and of the courage to take on such a challenge. It was a great challenge to be alone, to deal with different conflict situations while maintaining psychological resilience and faith in my own strength. But the film shows that anything is possible – how much one person is capable of, and how much they can do if they want to and believe in themselves. I believe this story is a great example of how to achieve your goals and become a much stronger and more determined person,” says Edgars Trankalis.

A number of well-known public figures also expressed their excitement after watching the film.

Ēriks Stendzenieks, Latvian advertising expert: “I must be honest: for two hours, while watching Edgars’ film, I was tense and sitting on the edge of my seat. Yes, I am a renowned critic who will crush any attempt at self-aggrandisement that has no substance, that is superficial. In this case, my renowned destructive powers remained unused. And thanks to Edgars, once again my focus improved from the 5-second attention span of a goldfish to two hours.”

Sandijs Semjonovs, Latvian journalist and documentary filmmaker: “A must-see film to understand that the impossible is possible. I see him not only as a traveller but also as a filmmaker. It’s one thing to cycle to the middle of Italy, but it is quite another to document and film the adventure yourself. It requires a lot of commitment and a serious plan. The film is a success.”

Pauls Timrots, Latvian director: “Everyone had a dream when they were young – to go far, far away on a bicycle! Only a few fulfil it, but only one films it and inspires others – Edgars Trankalis! Edgars is a one-man orchestra who managed to cycle 100 kilometres a day while filming incredibly beautiful footage and posting content on social networks.”

Mārtiņš Aleksandrovičs, Latvian freestyle motocross rider: “A very good motivational documentary about how to achieve what may even seem like impossible goals. People are not really aware of their true potential and only use a small part of it in their lifetime. (…) The main thing is not to give up! A film I would recommend to everyone.”

Remarkably, Edgars Trankalis not only cycled alone from Rucava to Rome, capturing it all by himself in fascinating video and photo footage, but after his cycling adventure, he also challenged himself to make his first documentary alone. Therefore, Edgars Trankalis is the sole author of this film, as well as the producer, set designer, cinematographer, photographer, video editor, animator, graphic and sound designer, and voice-over artist. In total, the film took more than two years to make.

“There are many talented and capable people in Latvia, but only a few have believed in themselves and discovered these potential traits and talents. It is impossible to achieve great things in life without motivation and inspiration. That is why films like this, which inspire, are very important. I hope my film will be like that. I am living proof that you can do things with faith in yourself, even things that seem unrealistic at first. Despite the fact that practically nobody believed in me before this challenge, I still cycled to Rome and made this film, which was actually five times harder than cycling. It took a lot of time and patience, but in the end, I am very satisfied with what I have achieved,” says Edgars Trankalis.

According to Edgars Trankalis, the congratulations and compliments after the premiere were so plentiful that it may even inspire him to publish a book about his journey in the future. Here are some thoughts from the audience:

“(…) I am 37 years old, and I have never in my life experienced anywhere near the emotions while watching a film as I did watching yours yesterday. (…) I had goosebumps throughout the film. (…)”

“(…) Emotions overflow! A fantastically heartfelt film! Tears of joy were shed several times. It felt like we were with you for the entire 3222 km. (…)”

“Epic, inspiring, crazy. 2 hours seemed like 2 minutes.”

“(…) It is incredible how much a person can actually achieve with perseverance, motivation and endless mental discipline.”

Currently, the film is available on YouTube  https://youtu.be/25ARNXoNAvo


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