Baltic Film Festival Debuts in New York

Festivalio atvirutė

The first ever New York Baltic Film Festival comes with 18 film screenings over a four-day period at Scandinavia House from October 18 through October 21. The festival will feature 7 U.S. premiere screenings and 9 NYC premieres.

New York audiences will have an opportunity to watch the notable classic films that have rarely been seen outside of Europe, the latest features, documentaries and animation films from some of the best established and upcoming filmmakers from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Kadras iš A. Žebriūno filmo „Velnio nuotaka“

Arūnas Žebriūnas’ film The Devil‘s Bride (1974)

“It’s always an exceptional feeling to present Lithuanian films abroad. It’s a great honour for us to bring part of the European cinema to New York – one of the most important cultural capitals in the world,” said the director of the Lithuanian Film Centre Rolandas Kvietkauskas, who came to New York City for the opening of the festival. “We worked really hard together with our partners so I hope that the audiences will be curious to see the films that were made at the time when the Baltic States, unfortunately, were not a part of the global cultural exchange. It should be an enriching experience for New Yorkers,” he said.

This festival is the first try for the three Baltic States to carve out space in an already oversaturated New York film market. “We had to find the best date for the festival so that it wouldn’t conflict with other New York film festivals or events,” said Cultural Attaché of Lithuania in the U.S. Gražina Michnevičiūtė.

Kadras iš K. Matvejevaitės filmo „Paskutinė diena“

Klaudija Matvejevaitė’s short film The Last Day (2017)

The idea for the New York Baltic Film Festival was born two years ago to Honorary Consul for Latvia in New York Daris Delins, who then invited Lithuanians and Estonians to join this initiative. “I started to think of interesting ways to promote Latvia to New Yorkers during our centenary year. Maybe we can show some films, since cinema is an international language. But then I thought – why just Latvian films, why not films from all three Baltic countries in one festival because we are all celebrating our centenaries in 2018!” he said.

Kadras iš G. Šiaulio filmo „Kaukai“

Gediminas Šiaulys’ animated film Running Lights (2017)

After a tedious planning process and many conversations, the festival finally came together. Donald Dewey, the programming director of the festival, said it wasn’t easy putting together the schedule.

“It shouldn’t be much of a task to choose your 18 favourite films; to choose your 18 favourite anythings. But when the candidates come from three countries, represent four genres, and span half a century of radically different internal filmmaking conditions, the inevitable conclusion is that a lot of other people’s 18 favourite films are going to be left out. That’s the habitual curse in selecting, as is the converse that if you’re pleasing all the people all the time, you’re doing something very, very wrong. So let’s start off saying that the New York Baltic Film Festival is doing something very, very right,” he said.

Kadras iš A. Matelio filmo „Nuostabieji lūzeriai. Kita planeta“

Arūnas Matelis’ documentary Wonderful Losers: A Different World (2017)

“The opening night of the festival will be special because of the screenings of classic films made in the 70s and 80s,” Gražina Michnevičiūtė said. “One of the most awaited screenings is documentary Wonderful Losers: A Different World, Lithuania’s official entry to the 91st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. The Q&A with its director Arūnas Matelis and film critic Lukas Brašiškis will follow. I think documentary When We Talk About KGB by Maximilien Dejoie and Virginija Vareikytė should be particularly interesting to the audience – the historic time during Soviet occupation is still widely misunderstood in the West. The audience will get to talk to Vareikytė after the screening,” Michnevičiūtė said.

Kadras iš M. Dejoie ir V. Vareikytės filmo „Aš už tave pakalbėsiu“

Maximilien Dejoie and Virginija Vareikytė’s documentary When We Talk About KGB (2015)

The classics will screen during the opening night on October 18: The Devil‘s Bride by Arūnas Žebriūnas – the first Lithuanian musical (1974), Latvian documentary The White Bells by Ivars Kraulītis (1961) and the witty 511 Best Photographs from Mars by Estonian Andres Sööt  (1968).

The second day of the festival will show The Dissidents – an action comedy by Jaak Kilmi (Estonia, 2017) and ironic documentary Rodeo (Estonia, 2018) by Raimo Jõerand and Kiur Aarma. On the last day, a science documentary Baltic Tribes (Latvia, 2018) by Lauris Ābele and Raitis Ābele will screen, and the closing movie of the festival will be Together For Ever (Lithuania, 2016) by Lina Lužytė.

Kadras iš L. Lužytės filmo „Amžinai kartu“

Lina Lužytė’s film Together For Ever (2016)

You can find the entire programme of the festival here.

New York Baltic Film Festival is organised by Honorary Consul for Latvia and Consulates General of Lithuania and Estonia in New York, in collaboration with the national film centres of the Baltic countries, Lithuanian Culture Institute, Cultural Attaché of Lithuania in the U.S., and other partners of the festival. The screenings will take place at Scandinavia House – one of the main partners of the festival.