After Lithuania regained its independence, Lithuanian cinema, too, was freed from Russian say in creative matters. Films from this country are not the most widely known but they still have their own, unique identity. Sensitive to social issues, Lithuanian filmmakers create fascinating pictures that are on par with the world’s greatest productions.
Our audiences are cordially invited to watch a small but representative slice of Lithuanian cinema. We will screen two productions from the Soviet era — “Nobody Wanted to Die” (1966) and “Feelings” (1968) — one from the transformation period, “The Children from the Hotel America” (1990), and a contemporary production, “Miracle” (2017).
“Miracle”, directed by Eglė Vetelytė, is an artistic response to the difficult social and economic experiment that was the shift from government-controlled to free market, which has been happening in many Eastern European countries over the last few decades. “The Children from the Hotel America” by Raimundas Banionis is a trailblazer of Lithuanian independent cinematography, at a turning point between the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Lithuania of today. The eponymous Hotel America, where the young protagonists hang out, is a metaphor for the longing for liberty, freedom of choice, and everything that is forbidden for being dissonant with the dogmas of the communist government. It is a story of youthful dreams and of the choking grip of the Soviet state apparatus on everyday life.
Another film that we will be showing at the Two Riversides Festival is “Emotions”, directed by Algirdas Dausa and Almantas Grikevičius, which was banned all throughout the USSR; all save for Lithuania. This adaptation of a novel by Egons Līvs depicts stories of individuals in a broader historical context. Two brothers become separated; one acts according to his conscience and devotes himself to helping his family, while the other stays loyal to political principles. The picture is interpreted as an allegory of a country torn in two. The last entry in this section is the symbolic classic “Nobody Wanted to Die” directed by Vytautas Žalakevičius, dubbed the “Lithuanian ‘Seven Samurai’”. The fantastic lead star Donatas Banionis was awarded at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for his role in it. This dark action drama portrays the complicated post-war reality, the new political order and new borders, and stark choices that befall the people.
We are confident this short tour of Lithuanian cinema will provide our audiences with an interesting insight into the contemporary history of Lithuania and enable them to place this country in a clearer cultural, historical and socio-political context.