From the early summer cinema has spread the word about the centenary of the restoration of Lithuania across four continents. With the support from the Lithuanian Film Centre films and projects have been presented in almost 20 countries across the world from the Baltic countries to South Korea, China, Australia and Canada.
Intense promotion of national cinema during this period can be noted for both wide geographical range and abundance of important film events. World premieres of Lithuanian films took place at prestigious festivals in Karlovy Vary, Locarno, Venice and Toronto. Works from almost all genres – features, documentaries, animations, shorts and VRs – were presented to global audiences and contended in competition programmes. Future film projects successfully passed selection to be presented at the industry events of important festivals.
Marija Kavtaradzė’s film Summer Survivors (2018)
Implementing the programme dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the state the Lithuanian Film Centre also continued cooperation with the film institutions of the Baltic countries as well as with long-term partners across the world. Lithuanian film week was held in Beijing, Baltic Film Days in Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn, retrospective programmes of Lithuanian cinema in Karlovy Vary and Reykjavik film festivals as well as special events for film industry professionals in Pula (Croatia), Locarno and San Sebastian film festivals.
Kristina Buožytė’s VR film Trail of Angels (2018)
International premieres and achievements of Lithuanian cinema
A number of films were presented to the world and launched on global tours with busy schedules – Giedrė Beinoriūtė’s drama Breathing into Marble (Karlovy Vary Film Festival), Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė’s debut feature documentary Acid Forest, Laurynas Bareiša’s latest short Caucasus (Locarno Film Festival), Kristina Buožytė’s VR animation project Trail of Angels (Venice Film Festival), Marija Kavtaradzė’s debut feature film Summer Survivors (Toronto Film Festival), documentary Bridges of Time made by Audrius Stonys together with the Latvian director Kristīne Briede, minority co-production film Jumpman directed by Ivan I. Tverdovskiy (Karlovy Vary Film Festival), and Xacio Baño’s Spanish-Lithuanian co-production Trot (orig. Trote, Locarno Film Festival). Trot and Acid Forest were awarded a special mention of the international jury and a prize respectively.
Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė’s documentary Acid Forest (2018)
Works of documentary filmmakers continued their successful journeys across global film events – Mindaugas Survila’s documentary poem The Ancient Woods was presented at the Sydney Film Festival, while Arūnas Matelis’ latest film Wonderful Losers: A Different World was screened at the Belfast “Pull Focus” Documentary Festival and Ulju Mountain Film Festival. Matelis’ work became the winner of the competition programme in Ulju. After visiting the Haifa Film Festival in Israel, Beinoriūtė’s Breathing into Marble went to the Busan Film Festival in South Korea which is considered a prestigious event in the region of Asia.
Giedrė Beinoriūtė’s film Breathing into Marble (2018)
Lithuanian shorts have also been included in the programmes of international festivals. Titas Laucius’ Snake which participated at the “FEST – New Directors | New Films” in Espinho, Portugal, won Cineuropa Audience Award for the best short film. An extensive programme of Lithuanian animated films was presented at the World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb (Croatia), while Ilja Bereznickas’ animated film The Goat Luck – Bad Luck was screened at the above mentioned Portuguese film event and International Animation, Comics and Caricature Festival in Tel Aviv. Akvilė Žilionytė’s short film A Piece for Two Hands will be presented at the Sound & Image Challenge International Festival in the Macao Region, China, in late 2018.
Lithuanian film projects that are still in development have successfully passed the selection for leading international film industry events. Audrius Mickevičius’ and Nerijus Milerius’ documentary Exemplary Behaviour was presented at the Sheffield Doc/Fest’s MeetMarket, while the documentary Gentle Warriors by the young generation filmmaker Marija Stonytė was selected for The Edinburgh Pitch 2018 and won the best pitch award at the event. Lina Lužytė’s latest project Fishermen was selected to participate in the European development programme for limited budget feature films LIM | Less Is More.
Exceptional Lithuanian film programmes dedicated to the centenary of the restoration of Lithuanian state from Beijing to Reykjavik
The name of Lithuania was promoted at film events not only by individual works of filmmakers. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the state, strong partnerships and cooperation ties of the Lithuanian Film Centre have opened up important horizons for the national cinema, exceptional attention for exclusive Lithuanian or joint Baltic retrospectives and programmes, as well as film heritage.
This summer seven Lithuanian films, including Ignas Miškinis’ Kings’ Shift, Lina Lužytė’s Together For Ever, Eglė Vertelytė’s Miracle, and Kristina Buožytė’s The Collectress, were presented at the seven Capital Star Art Film theatres of Beijing during the first ever Lithuanian week in China. They were screened 21 times in total. The film programme was accompanied by a numerous national film industry delegation, which held meetings with representatives of China’s key film institutions and discussed opportunities of distribution and participation in various festivals for Lithuanian auteur cinema and short films.
Important retrospective programmes were presented in key Czech and Icelandic film festivals in cooperation with the National Film Centre of Latvia and the Estonian Film Institute. After a 15-year hiatus the audiences of Karlovy Vary Film Festival saw the retrospective of Baltic cinema “Reflections of Time: Baltic Poetic Documentary” – a tribute to the classic documentary films from the three countries. The Lithuanian part of the programme included works of Robertas Verba and Henrikas Šablevičius as well as documentaries created by Šarūnas Bartas and Audrius Stonys in the early period of the country’s independence. The programme of the Baltic countries at the Reykjavik International Film Festival has received a lot of attention from the viewers eager to get acquainted with the works of the legendary Lithuanian film artist Jonas Mekas, who has been declared the guest of honour at the festival.
Audrius Stonys’ and Kristīne Briede’s documentary Bridges of Time (2018)
For the second year in a row, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn were visited by the Baltic Film Days with even wider and more diverse programme which attracted up to 3,500 people interested in the cinema of the neighbouring countries. While Latvian and Estonian films were visiting Lithuania, Riga and Tallinn were welcoming Lithuanian works. Latvian viewers saw Raimundas Banionis’ Children from the Hotel “America” (1990) – one of the most popular classical Lithuanian films restored under the commission of the Lithuanian Film Centre – as well as the documentary film Rūta created by Rokas Darulis and Ronaldas Buožis for the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the Lithuanian state. Estonian audiences also had an opportunity to see Rūta as well as Ignas Jonynas’ The Gambler, which has gained international critical acclaim at a number of festivals and was acknowledged the best Lithuanian production several years ago.
Raimundas Banionis’ film Children from the Hotel “America” (1990)
The last four months were intense for the professionals of the Lithuanian film industry too. The partnership between the Lithuanian Film Centre and the festivals of Pula, Locarno and San Sebastian resulted in extra attention to the Baltic countries and special programmes at their industry events. Delegations of the most promising Lithuanian producers selected for these programmes and representatives of the Lithuanian Film Centre travelled to these festivals to present their film projects and the national film market, as well as to build collaborations with film industries of European and other countries that would boost co-production partnerships and facilitate post-production and market access for the presented films.
Participating as a guest country at the Pula Film Festival’s Matchmaking Forum Lithuania was represented by producers Andrius Lekavičius, Romas Zabarauskas and Kristina Ramanauskaitė. Delegates were also sent to the Locarno Film Festival’s producer networking programme Match Me!. Giedrė Žickytė, Dagnė Vildžiūnaitė, Marija Razgutė, Paulius Juočeris and Andrius Lekavičius were among the 15 producers from the Baltic countries at the industry events of the San Sebastian Film Festival – the Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum and the special programme Glocal Meets the Baltics. The Invisible by Ignas Jonynas which is currently in the post-production stage was acknowledged the best project of the Glocal in Progress. The film was awarded post-production services provided by several companies and its distribution in Spain, while its main producer Kristina Ramanauskaitė received the Glocal in Progress Award of 10,000 Euros.
Arūnas Žebriūnas’ film The Beauty (1969)
Lithuanian film classics promotion was also marked by a historic event. Under the agreement signed by the Lithuanian Film Centre and the French film distribution company ED Distribution, the restored film The Beauty by Arūnas Žebriūnas (1969) was launched across French cinemas. It is the first restored classic Lithuanian film distributed in foreign cinemas. ED Distribution has acquired the rights to distribute the famous story of a Lithuanian girl across all French-speaking territories in Europe. The success of Žebriūnas’ The Beauty shows wide potential of the national film classics – foreign festivals and other film events, film education programmes, and VOD platforms show growing interest in the restored Lithuanian film heritage.
Arūnas Matelis’ documentary Wonderful Losers: A Different World (2017)
What’s in store for Lithuanian cinema in the near future? The pace of promotion of the national film in foreign countries is going to increase further. Programmes presenting the achievements of Lithuanian cinema are being prepared for New York, Jihlava, Leipzig, Warsaw and Tbilisi. The American promotion campaign has been launched for the Wonderful Losers: A Different World by Arūnas Matelis, which was selected as a national nominee for the American Academy Award.