Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Three generations of Lithuanian Cinema during the IFI Lithuanian Film Focus

Santa Lingevičiūtė, Artistic Director of the Vilnius International Film Festival, talks about three generations of Lithuanian cinema ahead of the IFI Lithuanian Film Focus (Dec 6th – 8th)

Gytis Lukšas is one of the last of the Mohicans of the so-called ‘golden’ generation of Lithuanian cinema. He is a jack of all trades: director, screenwriter, chairman of the Lithuanian Association of Cinematographers, and member of Culture and Art Council. His films, Autumn of My Childhood (Mano vaikystės ruduo, 1977), Summer Ends in Autumn (Vasara baigiasi rudenį, 1981), and English Waltz (Anglų valsas, 1982), are considered his best and already belong to the Lithuanian classics archive. Lukšas is one of those directors who perceived the cinematic potential of Lithuanian literature therefore most of his films are adaptations. Very often he questions the concept of morality; his films are very intimate and this intimacy forces the spectator to seek connections with one’s biography. Lukšas‘s cinema is a rare example of unity: music supplements the image or acting, or vice versa. His latest film Vortex (Duburys) is an adaptation of a novel written by Romualdas Granauskas, the winner of the Lithuanian National Prize. It is traditional, black-and-white drama where the relationship between people are watched very closely and attentively. As Lukšas himself put it “it is not simply a story of one man’s life, but also of my own generation.”

Šarūnas Bartas is one the most internationally acclaimed Lithuanian film directors, whose career started in the early ‘90s. As most film people of the former Soviet Union, Bartas graduated from the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography, aka VGIK. During Soviet times VGIK was considered as one of the top film schools. Šarūnas Bartas gained international recognition for his first feature-length film Three Days (1991), which was awarded the prize of the Ecumenical Jury and Special Mention of FIPRESCI in Berlinale in 1992. This festival was a major breakthrough for the director. His following films were also screened in such A-class film festivals as Berlinale, Cannes (Un Certain Regard Section), Rotterdam, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, London etc. Bartas is a true auteur who rejects traditional narrative. All his films are of loose structure, minimalistic, raising philosophical questions. Bartas’ oeuvre is little known and analysed in Lithuania, but he has a lot of fans outside his homeland. In his latest film Eastern Drift the director tries a genre of classic crime film with some deviations: it is a mixture of peculiar existential drama with stylistics of action film and film noir. Bartas uses his trademark – a non-linear montage. The spectator is transferred to the magical world of the film, leaving one’s space of mundane existence.

Kristina Buožytė represents the young generation of Lithuanian filmmakers. She is probalby most hard working and much more mature in terms of filmmaking among her contemporaries. She has made two feature-length films and both achieved wide international recognition. Buožytė already has a distinctive style. She is interested in the confrontation of double-sided reality. Characters of her films are tortured and betrayed by their own thoughts. Kristina Buožytė is like a surgeon who dissects human character and consciousness with the camera. The subject of examination of inner world is supplemented with subtle feminist nuances. Her first film The Collectress (Kolekcionierė, 2008) was the antithesis of poetic realism, so popular in Lithuanian cinema. Her latest film Vanishing Waves (Aurora) is called a fantastic-psychological-erotic techno-thriller. One can recognise references to Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky and David Lynch but without feeling plagiaristic. Buožytė professionally uses a method of appropriation so popular in contemporary art.

Santa Lingevičiūtė

The IFI Lithuanian Film Focus runs at the IFI from December 6th to 8th. Director Kristina Buožytė will attend the screening of Vanishing Waves on December 6th and take part in a Q&A.


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