The 15th Reykjavik International Film Festival in Iceland is dedicating part of its programme to the cinemas of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on the occasion of the centenary of the Baltic nations’ statehood. The special programme “In Focus: Baltic Countries”, put together in cooperation with the national film centres of the three countries, comprises nearly 30 works representing Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian filmmaking.
The centrepiece of the programme is a retrospective dedicated to the legendary Lithuanian filmmaker Jonas Mekas, the guest of honour at this year’s festival. Lithuanian cinema will also be represented by two young-generation directors, Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė and Marija Kavtaradzė, and their debut feature films, in addition to a programme of Lithuanian shorts.
The retrospective of Jonas Mekas, the godfather of American avant-garde cinema, kicked off with Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972). The film was exhibited at the Cinémathèque Française this year during a big retrospective of Lithuanian cinema and was one of the most popular screenings at the event, drawing an audience of almost half a thousand viewers. Film lovers in Reykjavik will also be able to see Mekas’ Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR (2008), Sleepless Night Stories (2011), Out-Takes From the Life of a Happy Man (2012) and short film portraits about Andy Warhol, George Maciunas, John Lennon, Jacqueline Kennedy. Mekas himself will be present at some of the screenings to meet and interact with the audience. As the guest of honour at the Reykjavik IFF, Mekas will also have an exhibition of his works “Like a flower in a field” presented to the Icelandic public.
From Jonas Mekas’ film Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania, 1972
From Jonas Mekas’ film Out-Takes From the Life of a Happy Man, 2012
Young talented filmmakers are also presenting their work in the Lithuanian programme. Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė is bringing her debut documentary feature Acid Forest, which premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival this August. Marija Kavtaradzė’s Summer Survivors, a drama about young healthy people suffering from invisible psychic conditions, has been selected for the festival’s competitive section New Visions that showcases promising filmmakers’ first and second features. Summer Survivors received its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
From Marija Kavtaradzė’s film Summer Survivors, 2018
From Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė’s film Acid Forest, 2018
Three films by Lithuanian filmmakers will be part of a programme of shorts alongside works of their Latvian and Estonian counterparts. By the Pool (2017), by Laurynas Bareiša, has been awarded Lithuania’s national film prize, the Silver Crane. The other two are Syndromes of Mimicry (2017), by Anastasija Piroženko, and Remember, Thou Art Clay (2017), by Elvina Nevardauskaitė and David Heinemann. One film to be screened in the Baltic programme involved cooperation among filmmakers from all the three Baltic states: Laila Pakalniņa’s documentary Hi Rasma! (2015).
From Laurynas Bareiša’s film By the Pool, 2017
The Reykjavik International Film Festival, which runs between 27 September and 7 October, showcases a diverse selection of fiction and documentary films from over 40 countries, with a special focus on independent cinema and up-and-coming filmmakers.
The Jonas Mekas retrospective, the programme of Lithuanian films and the participation of Lithuanian filmmakers at the Reykjavik IFF were supported by the Lithuanian Film Centre.