Vilnius IFF Competition Lineup Includes Lithuanian Premiere and Silver Bear Winner
10 feature and 33 short films are set to vie for the awards starting March 25. The section will open with an out-of-competition screening of Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh’s “Gagarine”, with films available for streaming until April 5.
Artistic Director Mantė Valiūnaitė calls the competition section the beating heart of every international festival. “We are pleased to support talented directors taking their first steps into the world of cinema. Every creator finds their debut film extremely important, so Vilnius IFF aims to pay them special attention. All programmers cherish this section,” says Valiūnaitė.
The European Debut Competition will include the world premiere of “People We Know Are Confused” by Lithuanian director Tomas Smulkis, available for streaming only on March 27. The film takes place over four hot summer days, portraying the lives of the people living in Vilnius.
Competing alongside the local title will be historical drama “Natural Light” by this year’s Silver Bear winner from Hungary Dénes Nagy; the boundary pushing “Feast” by Dutch visual artists Tim Leyendekker; Ainhoa Rodríguez’s surreal examination of the patriarchal system “Mighty Flash” from Spain; Itonje Søimer Guttormsen’s intriguing Norwegian tragicomedy “Gritt”; Norika Sefa’s subtle and profound coming-of-age story set in Kosovo “Looking for Venera”, which earned the Special Jury Award at IFF Rotterdam; Natalya Vorozhbit’s portrayal of war-torn Donbass “Bad Roads”; Italian director Evi Romen’s tumultuous journey to self-liberation “Why Not You”; Peter Dourountzis’s tense social thriller “Rascal” from France; and the tender portrayal of a strained father-daughter relationship “Moon, 66 Questions” from Greek director Jacqueline Lentzou.
According to programmer Aistė Račaitytė, the past year wasn’t easy for filmmakers, as many top festivals prioritized reduced lineups, leading to fewer opportunities for a successful festival circuit.
“However, major festivals like Cannes, Berlin, and Rotterdam payed considerable attention to debuting directors, including them in the main sections, providing higher visibility and more opportunities during the pandemic. We are happy to present a remarkably strong and thematically diverse competition film slate that represents the open and keen outlook of first-time feature directors,” shared Račaitytė.
The Competition winners will be chosen by a five-person jury consisting of Gaia Furrer, artistic director of Venice Film Festival’s Giornate degli Autori sidebar; Denis Côté, Canadian filmmaker whose latest feature “Social Hygiene” is screening at the festival; Marija Razgutė, producer of “Summer Survivors” and “Nova Lituania”, founder of Lithuanian production firm.
M-Films; Daniel Kasman, vice president of content at Mubi; and Hungarian filmmaker Lili Horvát, whose “Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time” is also part of the Vilnius IFF programme.
Six Lithuanian films will take part in the brave and moving Short Competition, including “Swamp” by Klementas Davidavičius, “The Little Moon” by Elena Kairytė, “Places” by Vytautas Katkus, “Ieva” by Domas Petronis and Vytautas Plukas, “Limousine” by Saulė Bliuvaitė, and “Interrogation” by Urtė Sabutytė.
Selecting the best short film will be Nanako Tsukidate, Japanese film critic and journalist, member of the selection committee for Cannes parallel section La Semaine de la Critique and programmer of the Hiroshima International Film Festival; Camille Degeye, French film director and cinematographer; and Ignas Meilūnas, Lithuanian filmmaker.
The project is supported by the Lithuanian Film Centre, sponsored by the Lithuanian Council for Culture, European Commission’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme, and Vilnius City Municipality. Vilnius IFF Kino Pavasaris is an independent private initiative.