Vilnius International Film Festival (Vilnius IFF) Kino Pavasaris is the biggest and most important cinema event in Lithuania. Over more than 20 years, the festival has become a highly-attended cultural phenomenon. In 2019 the festival was visited by 126 827 quality cinema lovers – 10 thousand more than last year. This year, Vilnius IFF took place in 19 cities over two weeks – more than ever before.
Our carefully curated programme has earned festival recognition from viewers and industry professionals alike. Now in its 24th year, the festival’s visual identity „Don‘t rush. Imagine“ encouraged people to slow their pace and find time for themselves and quality cinema. The programme again focused on a variety of international auteur cinema and events that combine audience education with the film industry, provide the opportunity to share the experience as well as acquire new knowledge.
This year, for the first time in the festival history, so many Lithuanian films premiered at the VIFF. In total, 5 feature and 10 shorts films were screened. The festival continues to present strong debuts and works from acknowledged masters of film. The large programme has been divided into just 5 categories: Discoveries, Festivals’ Favourites, Masters, Critics’ Choice, and Competition of European Debuts.
In 2019, Vilnius IFF screened around 170 films, 34 per cent were made by women directors. Next year the goal is to increase this number.
Every year, we hold at least 2 retrospectives of historically significant films. This year, the festival honoured two different but very influential film directors. The French modern cinema queen Claire Denis and Senegalese film director Djibril Diop Mambéty.
These and many more exceptional filmmakers‘ works were shown in Hall 9. Here the festival-goers were invited to dwell into a provocative and inspiring programme that you rarely will find in regular film theatres. Next year the repertoire of this hall is expected to be enriched with even more experimental content.
Since 2009, the festival’s competition programmes have become our phenomenal calling card for international film industry professionals and a great educational tool for festivalgoers. For two years in a row, films from debuting European directors took part in the Competition of European Debuts.
In 2019, Vilnius IFF continues to welcome members of the prestigious FIPRESCI association. Thriller “Cutterhead” by Rasmus Kloster Bro received the FIPRESCI Prize for the best film created in the Baltic region. The FIPRESCI Prize is significant proof of the festival’s quality being recognized on an international level.
The Cineuropa Prize was awarded to the documentary “Animus Animalis (A Story About People, Animals and Things)”, directed by Aistė Žegulytė.
“In Between”, directed by Samir Karahoda, received the Short Competition award, while the title of best Student Film went to Jevgenij Tichonov’s “Taco”.
The audience also cast their votes, selecting “Capernaum” by Nadine Labaki as their favourite feature film, “Family Unit” by Titas Laucius as the best short film, and “Summer Survivors” as their most beloved Lithuanian film.
Many renowned international guests have come to present their films and interact with viewers, including Michel Hazanavicius, Joshua Oppenheimer, Emir Kusturica, Mike Leigh, Leos Carax, Werner Herzog, Sergei Loznitsa, Krzysztof Zanussi and others. This year’s list of guests includes Sean Baker, Silvana Imam, Homayounas Ershadi and others. This year, the impressive guestlist included Russian director Vitaly Mansky, English photographer and artist Richard Billingham, Polish film legend Krzysztof Zanussi, Golden Bear winner Adina Pintilie, experimental filmmaker Jeremy Shaw, and more.
Meeting Point – Vilnius is an important event for the Lithuanian film industry, allowing cinema professionals from other countries to discover the Lithuanian cinema market’s identity and foster partnerships between major international film festivals in Eastern and Central Europe.
Vilnius IFF pays special attention to volunteering. Each year, around 300 film enthusiasts of various ages join the ranks of volunteers and become full-fledged members of the team while the festival is getting organized and taking place.
Vilnius IFF is a socially responsible organization that presents educational and social projects alongside the numerous films and competition programmes. One of our most successful projects is the Film Caravan. The project’s main goal is to bring auteur cinema to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to see it. The projects set to start again this June.
Another fresh initiative that has brightened up the whole team of VIFF Kino Pavasaris is Young programmers. The initiative is co-organized together with Moving Cinema and Meno Avilys which implements international film education project "Moving Cinema" in Lithuania. Eight 17 – 19-year-olds tried out the roles of film programmers and selected films that according to them were most relevant for their peers.
In 2020, the festival will take place from March 19th to 2dn April.