This year’s anniversary edition of Litauisches Kino Goes Berlin runs from October 28 to November 1, flying the flag for Lithuanian creativity and proving once more that the Baltic nation’s creative output is truly worth celebrating. The in-person screenings will be held at Sputnik Kino and ACUD Kino and, in keeping with the health protocols, Q&A sessions are this year replaced by video greetings from the directors, and features will be available online for the German territory via kinofondas.lt.
For their 10th edition, the festival is showing a selection of four feature films – under the Festival Pearls header – as well as a full programme of short films. It’s a very strong line-up, with Ignas Jonynas’ Invisible (Thursday 29th, 20:00 at Sputnik Kino and Friday 30th, 19:00 at ACUD) standing out as one of our favourites. The director’s second feature film sees a former dancer pretend to be blind in order to enter a dance competition. His deception works, but the past resurfaces when his wife’s vengeful murderer is released from prison. It’s an assured, surprising and visually commanding film that takes its cues from Greek tragedy and disquietingly merges the beauty of nature with the most horrific instincts of mankind, exploring misplaced hubris and our self-imposed “blindness” when it comes to the complex truths we shield ourselves from.
Also on Friday (20:00 at Sputnik Kino 1) is Audrius Mickevičius and Nerijus Milerius’ Exemplary Behaviour, a festival highlight which won the Golden Dove International Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film prize and the FIPRESCI Prize at last year’s DOK Leipzig festival. It’s a powerful documentary that explores atonement and forgiveness through the perspective of the late Audrius Mickevičius, who goes to the Lukiškes prison to examine the paradox of “exemplary behaviour” in the wake of his brother’s murder.
Rounding off the feature selection is Karolis Kaupinis’ Nova Lituania (Thursday, 19:00 at ACUD and Nov 1, 20:00 at Sputnik), a monochrome gem set in 1938 that sees a geographer propose to create a “backup Lithuania” overseas as the world readies itself for the looming war to come, and Ernestas Jankauskas’ Sasha Was Here (Saturday, 20:00 at Sputnik and Nov 1, 19:00 at ACUD), which follows a happily married middle-class couple who drive to meet the girl they plan to adopt. Once at the orphanage, they discover a mistake has been made: Sasha, a rebellious 12-year old boy, greets them. The orphanage offers the couple an ultimatum: either spend the day with the boy while the mistake goes on record, or refuse and lose their chance to adopt a girl. It’s an engaging character study that offers up a meditation on the concept of family, whilst slyly commenting both on adoption and state bureaucracy.
In keeping with the tradition of the festival, the Baltic Shorts programme features Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian short films, running alongside four competition shorts programmes. Keep an eye out for the fantastic Matilda And The Spare Head, Ignas Meilūnas’ brilliant animated short about a girl who wants to be the smartest person in the world and who gets a backup one when she can’t fit any more information in her one head, as well as the Retrospective section’s Retro For Kids screening of Arūnas Žebriūnas’ 1964 Soviet drama The Girl And The Echo (Saturday, 15:00 at ACUD and Sunday, 16:00 at Sputnik).
Lithuanian Film Festival / ACUD Kino and Sputnik Kino. Oct 28-Nov 1. Full programme: http://ltkinogoesberlin.de/program/