The Baltic American Freedom League (BAFL) Awards Banquet was held January 23, 2010 at the Latvian Community Center in Los Angeles, California. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the BAFL Freedom Award to Edvins Snore in recognition for his film, The Soviet Story.
Master of Ceremonies, Southern California Lithuanian radio host Kestutis Reivydas, opened the proceedings, which was followed by the invocation from Rev. Kestutis Kevalas. The pledge of allegiance was led by Maryte Sepikas, BAFL Vice President.
In her introductory remarks, BAFL Co-President Vija Turjanis, highlighted BAFL’s activities and accomplishments during the past year. Vija happily reported that the Russian bill that would have led to the falsification of history has not been passed and may not be passed. She outlined the 2010 priorities which include opposition of France selling Mistral warships to Russia and supporting the 100% redistribution of Baltic Enterprise Funds to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Vija also asked for a moment of silence to remember Honorary Consul to Lithuania, Vytautas Cekanauskas, who recently passed away.
The banquet attendees who packed the hall enjoyed a delicious dinner that was catered by Peggy Taube. After the meal, BAFL Director Teodors Liliensteins, introduced honored guests.
BAFL Co-Presidents, Vija Turjanis and Alnis Briedis, presented the BAFL Freedom Award to author and director, Edvins Snore, in recognition his award winning film, The Soviet Story. This award is the highest honor given from this organization. The Board and audience was thrilled that Mr. Snore could travel from Latvia to accept the award and be our keynote speaker. Both Mr. Snore and BAFL also received a proclamation from the County of Los Angeles for their fine work.
After a clip of his film was shown, our keynote speaker, Edvins Snore, received a standing ovation as he took the stage. Mr. Snore made a riveting speech about why and how he made the film and what he was trying to accomplish. One of his objectives was to show the history of the nations that lived under Soviet occupation. He said the West doesn’t know the truth about the Soviet regime and the atrocities that were committed and continue to believe the soviet “myth”.
He explained how the film is relevant to the issues of freedom of the press and information in Russia and other parts of the region. Mr. Snore concluded his speech by entertaining numerous questions from the audience. His next “project” is obtaining his PhD in Ukrainian history as it applies to the “Holomodor” (Ukrainian famine).
Entertainment was provided by the Latvian quartet, “EJAM”, who treated the audience with fitting Latvian and American folk songs that emphasized freedom. the EJAM quartet consists of Edvins Rusis, Julia Plostnieks, Arturs Rusis, and Mara Zommers.
In closing,BAFL Co-President Alnis Briedis thanked everyone for making this banquet a huge success and reinforced the need for BAFL to continue its work. The evening came to an end by the singing of all three National anthems, accompanied on the piano by Dr. Laura Miculs.
The evening didn’t end immediately as Edvins Snore talked with event attendees and signed DVDs of The Soviet Story until nearly midnight.