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Film Line Up

The inaugural 2018 New York Baltic Film Festival will screen 18 films over a four-day period at Scandinavia House on Park Avenue.

The festival will feature 7 U.S. premiere screenings and 9 NYC premieres, and will include notable classic films that have rarely been seen outside of Europe as well as the latest features, documentaries, and animation films from some of the best established and upcoming filmmakers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

A number of the filmmakers will be present at the premieres to participate in a Q&A after the screenings. Post-screening networking events will follow the films.

The film line-up gives New York audiences the opportunity to experience some of the best in Northern European cinema from today and yesterday. Please join us on October 18-21 at Scandinavia House for this wonderful cinematic event.


CLASSICS

With the relatively larger film budgets available during the Soviet occupation of the Baltic nations, the Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian industries occasionally went off in unorthodox directions. What knit them to the present was a creative eye that sometimes the Soviets themselves didn’t understand.


511 Best Photographs from Mars

Estonian film makers had a delicious sense of humor even back in the occupation days, and exhibit number one is this droll look at the ladies and their gentlemen at tea in city cafeterias where the condiments included milk, lemon, and airs. Director Andres Soot’s sparkling music track includes the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Handel, and Strauss.

NYC Premiere Screening

Original title: 511 paremat fotot Marsist

Director: Andres Soot

Runtime: 15 min

Estonia - 1968

Language: Estonian with English subtitles

Screening date & time: Thursday, October 18, 7:00 pm

SOLD OUT

 

The Devil's Bride

One of the most startling films to come out of the Baltics in the 1970s, Its Faust-like plot about a demon promising riches to a mill owner in exchange for the hand of his daughter is the most conventional aspect of the picture. Of much more significance is that it is the first Lithuanian musical, often compared to a northern European variation on the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Its joint creators were director Arunas Zebriunas, composer Vyacheslav Ganelin, and scriptwriter Sigitas Geda. 

NYC Premiere Screening

Original title: Velnio nuotaka

Director:

Arūnas Žebriūnas

Runtime: 78 min

Lithuania - 1974

Language: Lithuanian with English subtitles

Screening date & time: Thursday, October 18, 7:00 pm

SOLD OUT

The White Bells

A small girl wanders through the rush hour streets of Riga in search of white bells she saw in a florist’s window. Her imperviousness to the physical dangers on all sides of her as she pursues her goal made it too tempting for critics not to liken her quest to that of Latvia itself on the European geopolitical map. Directed by Ivars Kraulitis, the short was regarded as the cornerstone of Latvia’s Poetic Documentary school.

NYC Premiere Screening

Original title: Baltie zvani

Director: Ivars Kraulītis

Runtime: 24 min

Latvia - 1961

Screening date & time: Thursday, October 18, 7:00 pm

SOLD OUT

 


BEING YOUNG - FEATURES & SHORTS

It’s never easy, but sometimes it can be wild and funny.


Mother, I Love You

One of the most poignant films ever produced in Northern Europe, this Janis Nords directed feature follows the buffeted relationship between a single mother and her 13-year-old son, whose seemingly slight lie leads to increasing complications with school authorities and the police. Their emotional odyssey gains extra force from players who had never before acted for the cameras, one of the numerous details that have had critics compare the film to Francois Truffaut’s Four Hundred Blows.

NYC Premiere Screening

Original title: Mamma, es tevi mīlu

Director: Jānis Nords

Runtime: 83 min

Language: Latvian with English subtitles

Latvia - 2013

Screening date & time: Friday, October 18, 8:15 pm

Running Lights

The animated short by Gediminas Siaulys is a model of color design in its naif science illustration of what happens to the corpse of a dead hare  after some children bury it in a sandbox. From death comes renewed life.

Original title: Kaukai

Director: Gediminas Siaulys

Runtime: 11 min

Lithuania - 2017

Screening date & time: Saturday, October 20, 2:00 pm

The Dissidents

In an American setting, the three goofballs in Jaak Kilmi’s comedy would be going to Las Vegas to break the bank. In The Dissidents they are a trio of Estonians influenced by the likes of Miami Vice reruns to escape Soviet occupation rule by fleeing to Sweden. They are greeted as heroes. The Swedes want to hear every detail about their escape, offering the drinks and meals to get them through their (increasingly embroidered) tales. But then their 15 minutes of fame fades and - oh, my God - they have to find jobs!

NYC Premiere Screening

Original title: Sangarid

Director: Jaak Kilmi

Runtime: 92 min

Language: Estonian with English subtitles

Estonia - 2017

Screening date & time: Friday, October 19, 6:30 pm


The Last Day

A witty short that’s also hilariously funny in mixing the sardonic with the slapstick. Everything is normal in director Klaudja Matvejevaite’s neat little suburb except for one thing --- all the residents know when they are going to die, and that can make for a lot of ticklish diplomacy when somebody has an eye on your sweater or has to make a shopping list for supper.

U.S. Premiere Screening

Original title: Paskutinė diena

Director: Klaudija Matvejevaite

Runtime: 24 min

Language: Lithuanian with English subtitles

Lithuania - 2017

Screening date & time: Friday, October 19, 5:00 pm

Three August Days

Directed by Madi Laane as a graduate thesis, this charming short has little in common with academic projects, depicting a stop-and start encounter between an Estonian girl and a Russian boy during the Soviet occupation. Oh, yes, and then there’s a bottle of Coke that becomes the arena for developing their relationship.

NYC Premiere Screening

Original title: Kolm päeva augustis

Director: Madi Lääne

Runtime: 20 min

Language: Estonian with English subtitles

Estonia - 2017

Screening date & time: Friday, October 19, 5:00 pm

Wild Game

Fifteen-year-old Liis has a bad feeling about joining other teenagers for a hunting trip in the woods, but she is pressured into going along, most of all by a boy to whom she is not completely indifferent. The translucently photographed short by Jeronimo Sarmiento confirms her misgivings, but  also suggests that she will never again be bullied into anything.

NYC Premiere Screening

Original title: Jahiloom

Director: Jeronimo Sarmiento

Runtime: 25 min

Language: Estonian with English subtitles

Estonia - 2017

Screening date and time: Friday, October 19, 5:00 pm


DOCUMENTARIES

There’s a reason why the Baltic industries have been a constant presence --- and award winner --- at international film festivals, and much of it stems from the wide definition they have given the term "documentary".


Merija's Journey

When the Germans retreated from Latvia in 1944, they took with them 700 boxes of art works and ancient manuscripts from the nation’s museums. They also took with them Merija Grinberga, who volunteered to keep her eye on the treasures until they could be returned home. This would end up costing her one tension-filled confrontation after another first with the Nazis, then with Soviet occupation forces in Riga. After successfully shepherding the materials back to Latvia, her reward was to be fired from her museum job. But it has been thanks to Grinberga that many of Latvia’s museums aren’t empty today. Kristine Zelve’s remarkable documentary about a remarkable woman includes a first hearing of diaries Grinberga kept while fending off the bureaucracies of two occupying powers.

U.S. Premiere Screening

Original title: Mērijas ceļojums

Director: Kristīne Želve

Runtime: 82 min

Language: Latvian with English subtitles

Latvia - 2018

Screening date & time: Saturday, October 20, 8:15 pm

Q&A following screening with the film’s director, Kristīne Želve

Rodeo

If you thought the hardest part of establishing a nation was getting rid of an unwanted occupier, you haven’t seen this startling documentary by Raimo Jõerand and Kiur Aarma. With a humor as frantic as the often absurd situation it covers, the film makers show through period footage and exclusive interviews how Estonia put together a fledgling cabinet in the 1990s with infinitely more goodwill than money, how some of its closest neighbors refused to extend loans for diplomatic reasons, and how the government finally raised survival money through an unorthodox (and ironically vengeful) means.

U.S. Premiere Screening

Original title: Rodeo

Directors: Raimo Jõerand and Kiur Aarma

Runtime: 77 min

Language: Estonian/English with English subtitles

Estonia - 2018

Screening date & time: Saturday, October 20, 4:00 pm

Q&A following screening with the film’s director, Raimo Jõerand

When We Talk About the KGB

Thirty years after being arrested in a Vilnius hotel during the Soviet occupation and imprisoned in isolation for nine months, an antique dealer returns to the site of his capture to understand why. And he’s not the only one still trying to come to grips with the griefs of far too recent history and what felt like the euphorias of liberation. As co-written and directed by Maximilien Dejoie and Virginija Vareikytė in their candid interviews, it isn’t only the one-time KGB agents who have had to deal with lingering guilts.

NYC  Premiere Screening

Original title: Aš už tave pakalbėsiu

Directors: Maximilien Dejoie and Virginija Vareikytė

Runtime: 73 min

Language: Lithuanian with English subtitles

Lithuania - 2015

Screening date & time: Saturday, October 20, 2:00 pm

Q&A following screening with the film’s director, Virginija Vareikyte

 

 


 

Wonderful Losers: A Different World

You have never been closer to the Giro d’Italia. Even if you have never wanted to be closer to the Giro d’Italia, you will savor this extraordinary view of tireless cyclists from such vantage points as the medical car that races along with all the athletes and has to dispense iodine and bandages from the window without either party stopping. With an international crew under the direction of Arunas Matelis, the documentary pays tribute to all the support teams that make it possible for somebody to don a championship sweater.

NYC Premiere Screening

Original title: Nuostabieji lūzeriai. Kita planeta

Runtime: 71 min

Language: Italian with English subtitles

Lithuania - 2017

Screening date & time: Saturday, October 20, 6:15 pm

Q&A following screening with the film’s director, Arunas Matelis

 

YESTERDAY & TODAY

For a better understanding of Tomorrow.


Baltic Tribes

A vividly colored sweeping popular science documentary complete with dramatic re-enactments and animation that reconstructs the origins of the Latvian nation. Co-directed by brothers Lauris and Raitis Abele, its narrative center is a Swedish merchant named Lars who travels through the exotic, sensual, and sometimes terrifying lands inhabited by various pagan tribes in the Baltic region.

U.S. Premiere Screening

Original title: Baltu cilts

Directors: Lauris Ābele and Raitis Ābele

Runtime: 103 min

Language: English

Latvia - 2018

Screening date & time: Sunday, October 21, 3:30 pm

Q&A following screening with the film’s director, Raitis Ābele and producer Kristele Pudane

Ice

Harri is an army officer who is posted far enough from home that he rarely gets to see his 10-year-old son. In an attempt to make up for this, he and the boy go off on a ‘roughing it' trip to an island. But when they miss the ferry, Harri takes an icy road over the frozen sea to their destination. The ominous decision is photographed brilliantly under the direction of Anna Hints.

U.S. Premiere Screening

Original title: Jää

Director: Anna Hints

Runtime: 15 min

Language: Estonian with English subtitles

Estonia - 2017

Screening date & time: Sunday, October 21, 6:00 pm

Manivald

In this sly animated short by Chintis Lundgren, Manivald is a thirty-not-quite-anything fox who has gotten very used to living with his overbearing Mother. Then the washing machine breaks down and Toomas the wolf enters and is soon repairing more than the White and Color buttons.

Director: Chintis Lundgren

Runtime: 13 min

Estonia - 2017

Screening date & time: Saturday, October 20, 4:00 pm


The Esperance of Will

It isn’t easy to make death charming and almost jovial, but director Rene Turtledove accomplishes it in this animation short about an elderly woman who has buried one too many friends and decides there are better ways to spend her money and her time than on the local coffin shop.

U.S. Premiere Screening

Original title: Cerība dzīvot

Director: Rene Turtledove

Runtime: 8 min

Latvia - 2017

Screening date & time: Sunday, October 21, 6:00 pm

Together For Ever

Families have seldom disintegrated as creatively as in this feature of Lina Luzyte. Opening with a prolonged one-shot sequence worthy of Hitchcock, the drama centered around a woman’s growing distance from an 11-year-old daughter who finds it easier to lie than to tell the truth and a stuntman husband whose risks begin to look suspiciously suicidal. What might have been a gray melodramatic texture, however, bubbles with the unexpected --- sort of like the broken waterpipe that forces everyone to reach for a towel.

U.S. Premiere Screening

Original title:  Amžinai kartu

Director: Lina Luzyte

Runtime: 88 min

Language: Lithuanian with English subtitles

Lithuania - 2016

Screening date & time: Sunday, October 21, 6:00 pm