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Categories: Features

This month, The Spread brings you get coverage from Lithuanian festival Kino Pavasaris thanks to our guest writer Eivinas Butkus.

Vilnius International Film Festival Kino Pavasaris, held in March, is the biggest annual cinematic event in Lithuania. The title in Lithuanian means “cinema’s spring”.

This year the festival had around 200 films shown in it’s several categories, including the competition programmes “New Europe – New Names”, “Baltic Gaze” and “Short films”. The most acclaimed films from other film festivals were in categories called “Masters”, “Critic’s Choice”, “Discoveries”, “Festivals’ Favourites” and so on. There were also documentaries, Lithuanian premiers, comedies, some retrospectives and even culinary films. Here you were able to run into a very low budget picture from Eastern Europe after watching a film by the Coen brothers or Lars von Trier.

kino 2

The highlights of this year’s Kino Pavasaris were probably Lars von Trier’s new film Nymphomaniac and the premier of a Lithuanian film The Gambler.

Nymphomaniac had gone a very controversial way to Lithuanian screens. At first, the Lithuanian Film Centre didn’t provide any age rating because of the “pornographic content” and the film couldn’t be screened in cinemas commercially. It could have been screened in festivals only. However the artists weren’t satisfied with this decision, so they protested and the film finally got the “18” rating. All this led to a very big fuss and anticipation of the film’s premier here during Kino Pavasaris. The tickets for the two-part night screening, which started at midnight, had been sold quickly.

Yet there was even more hype for The Gambler, which had premiered in San Sebastian last year. The teaser of the film was something completely unseen in our national cinema therefore the hopes were high. They were met during the sole screening here. The film tells the story of an indebted paramedic Vincent. The gambler needs money to pay his debts to the mafia and suddenly he finds a solution – a gambling game involving real people. The rules of the game are quite simple: the paramedics bet on the patients’ lives. Later in the film they even start betting on themselves. In Lithuania this is quite an important topicality, as we have a lot of corruption. The medics indirectly ask for money under the table and the health of the patient depends on the bribe. So the film depicts this situation when money becomes more important than real people. Quite a primitive setting, but I believe this topic to be locally and even universally important.the gambler

There were some other flicks from the major festivals and also the lesser known ones. The biggest selection was probably from Venice, also Cannes, Toronto, Berlin. However, there were interesting films from Tokyo International Film Festival (Forma won Best Picture Award there and FIPRESCI Prize in Berlin), Rotterdam International Film Festival (The Hope Factory, a very powerful picture about the Russian province and people trying to escape their background) and similar smaller festivals.

One of the retrospectives covered the pictures of a Russian classic Aleksei German and the other – the Solidarity movement in cinema. The selection was truly varied.

“Provide audiences with the most powerful, most intriguing, least expected independent cinema from all around the world”  – this is one of the organizers’ missions.

I think that it’s only partly what the festival is like. They do show some very demanding and interesting films from around the world but it is also the most commercial film festival in Lithuania. Therefore you have to find those gems among other mediocre production (like some of the films from sections as “Culinary films” or “VIASAT comedies”).

Nevertheless this year festival’s selection was pretty brave – many people left the screening halls before their film had ended. All in all, it was a very important cinematic event in Lithuania and the whole Eastern Europe.

 

Posted on May 12, 2014

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