Kino Pavasaris competition programmes will introduce select films from New Europe and the Baltic region

March 31st will see the start of Kino Pavasaris, the largest film festival in Lithuania, bringing with it new European films set to compete in three of its programmes. Among the hopefuls will be “The Lure” from Poland, which has already garnered international acclaim, the Slovakian “Eva Nova”, and dozens other films coming from Eastern and Central Europe, as well as the Baltic region.

The competition programmes will include 47 films created last year. 10 of them have been selected for the Baltic Gaze programme, which is dedicated to works from countries bordering on the Baltic Sea. The programme New Europe – New Names will also include 10 films, focusing on Eastern and Central European directors presenting their first or second feature. The remaining 27 films will compete in the short film programme.

An international jury will decide the winners in each programme. The best films will once again receive monetary prizes established by the Vilnius City Municipality.


“Competition programmes are like a festival’s calling card in the international film festival industry. They are observed by international media, programmers from other film festivals, cinema professionals attempting to predict new future film stars, and they create a festival’s image. We are happy to contribute to the programme New Europe – New Names, already in its ninth year of creating a reputation for Kino Pavasaris and Vilnius as places where talented directors from Central and Eastern Europe are discovered,” says Saulius Jokubaitis, Lithuanian branch CEO of the festival’s long-time partner ERGO Insurance Group.

The goal of the programme is to find the best new filmmakers from our region, and to show their work to Lithuanian audiences.

“This process has already been successful,” notes Jokubaitis. “The programme New Europe – New Names discovered the currently very popular central European director Jasmila Žbanić from Bosnia and Hercegovina, while last year’s winner, Slovak drama “Koza”, received its first international award in this programme, and ended up receiving 20 various nominations and awards everywhere from Lisbon to Hong Kong in 2015. The future of cinema will again be represented in this year’s New Europe – New Names.”

This time, the programme will focus on women’s stories. The theme is notably present in “Walpurgis Night” (Marcin Bortkiewicz, Poland) and “Eva Nova” (Marko Škop, Slovakia), with the latter being awarded the International critics’ prize at the Toronto Film Festival. Both films focus on the fates of celebrities who have reached the end of their careers.

Also present in the programme are reflections on teenagers’ lives. “The Lure” (Agnieszka Smoczyńska, Poland) is a musical that will transport viewers to Warsaw’s kitschy ‘80s discos, and has already been awarded at Sundance for its unique vision and design. “I, Olga Hepnarova” (Petr Kazda, Tomáš Weinreb, Czech Republic) will be more emotionally complicated, but just as affecting. It follows the true story of a lesbian living in ‘70s Czechoslovakia as she becomes a mass murderer due to unbearable pressure from society.

Also included in New Europe – New Names are films that examine family relationships: Czech drama with comedic undertones “Family Film” (Olmo Omerzu), Bosnian drama “Our Everyday Life” (Ines Tanović), Bulgarian film “Thirst” (Svetla Tsotsorkova), Polish comedy-drama “These Daughters of Mine” (Kinga Dębska), and Serbian husband-and-wife drama “Humidity” (Nikola Ljuca).

One of the most unexpected films in this programme is a Serbian anti-war drama “A Good Wife”, with one of the most famous Serbian actresses Mirjana Karanovič making her directorial debut.

More about the programme – here.

Credits: Audrius Solominas, Gediminas Gražys, Tautvydas Stukas


In its third year, the Baltic Gaze competition programme will present new works from countries with access to the Baltic Sea: from Denmark to Russia.

“This programme has recognised films that were later awarded all around the world. Last year, Joshua Oppenheimer, who is based in Denmark, won for best director. His documentary “The Look of Silence” is now nominated for an Oscar. Thriller “Victoria” was named best film in this programme, later becoming the best German film and getting nominated for the European Film Awards,” said Kino Pavasaris senior programmer Edvinas Pukšta.

This year’s Baltic Gaze will explore themes of war. Included in the programme is Oscar nominated Danish drama “A War” (Tobias Lindholm), which cast soldiers who have served in Afghanistan as actors. Rumblings of war will also be felt in one of the most-awaited Lithuanian premieres, documentary “Mariupolis” (Mantas Kvedaravičius). It focuses on people living at the centre of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, and will soon be screened in the Berlinale Panorama programme.

Russian and German drama “My Good Hans” (Alexander Mindadze) will transport viewers to the fateful spring before the start of World War II. Latvian film “Dawn” (Laila Pakalnina) examines life on a Soviet collective farm, following an honest Young Pioneer who has to decide whether to turn in his anti-Communist father to the authorities.

Sarcastic Russian documentary “Under the Sun” (Vitaly Mansky) is one of the most surprising films screening at Kino Pavasaris. It provides a rare look inside North Korea, an enigmatic country guarded by paranoia and an all-controlling propaganda machine. The director was permitted to film the true – though most likely government staged – life of an 8-year-old girl growing up in the totalitarian regime.

Baltic Gaze will also premiere Lithuanian drama “Kings' Shift” (Ignas Miškinis), about an ambitious young policeman, tasked with guarding a patient suspected of war crimes.

Jerzy Sladkowski, a Polish director based in Sweden, brings us “Don Juan”, which will portray a mother seeking to cure her son of autism using non-ethical methods. The complicated family story won first prize at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam.

The shocking Swedish drama “Granny's Dancing on the Table” (Hanna Sköld) uses live-action and stop-motion animation to tell the story of a teenage girl, abused and hidden from the world by her tyrannical father.

Finally, two Berlinale competition entries have also been selected for Baltic Gaze. Polish drama “United States of Love” (Tomasz Wasilewski) follows four women dreaming about post-communism change in 1990s Poland, while “The Commune”, from one of the best contemporary Danish directors Thomas Vinterberg, deconstructs idyllic life in a commune.

More about the programme – here.


The festival’s Short Films Competition programme will screen 27 participants form Central and Eastern Europe.

“The larger film festivals tend to ignore and wantonly devalue shorts from these European regions. Our aim is to bring these talented directors and their new films to light,” said programme coordinator Rimantas Oičenka.

This year’s shorts competition will have a symbolic opening film – “Tofalaria” (1985), co-directed by Valdas Navasaitis and famous Lithuanian auteur Sharunas Bartas, making his directorial debut. It follows the Tofalar people living in the Siberian wilderness.

Last year’s winner Réka Bucsi, awarded for “Symphony No.42”, will return to the Short Films Competition. The Hungarian director will present her new film “Love”.

Also selected to compete is Victor Kossakovsky, one of the most famous and original contemporary documentarians. His “Varicella” watchfully records the life and emotions of two young sisters studying to become ballerinas.

More about the programme – here.