Vilnius IFF Unveils Opening Film, Visual Identity and Asks – “To Act or/and To Be?”

Vilnius International Film Festival will take place online March 18 – April 5. Having gamely accepted the challenges posed by the pandemic last year, the 2021 edition aims to reassess our decision-making process in the face of uncertainty. Answers to the question “To Act or/and To Be?” will unfold in our special section and visual identity.

“There Is No Evil” by Mohammad Rasoulof will open the 26th Vilnius IFF. This Golden Bear winner from Berlinale tells the different stories of four people living in Iran, focusing on themes of moral fortitude and the death penalty.

The special section will include films by Éric Rohmer, Chantal Akerman, Med Hondo, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, and others. The festival’s guiding question will also encompass films in other sections, starting a dialogue between decades-old and new works.

“This year’s theme was born out of the desire to reflect on how the pandemic disrupted our routine. These changes prompted us to question the ways we should act in contemporary society. Along with programmers Aistė Račaitytė, Andrei Tănăsescu, and Marija Fridinovaitė we searched for films that examine choice on the historical, philosophical, psychological, and social levels. The question “To Act or/and To Be?” is our invitation for the viewers to carefully look inward, observe global developments and their effect on us as individuals, as a society and as living organisms that inhabit a shared environment,” said Mantė Valiūnaitė, Artistic Director of Vilnius IFF.

The festival’s visuals depict vegetation frozen in slowly melting ice. Located in the window of the Contemporary Art Centre, the installation will gradually change shape, eventually disappearing, much like the pandemic restrictions currently in place.

© Tautvydas Stukas
© Tautvydas Stukas

As in previous years, the festival’s visual identity is the work of an interdisciplinary team. The sculpture itself was created by lighting artist Rūta Palionytė, whose projects have been displayed at light festivals in Copenhagen and Iceland. She was later joined by graphic designer Marek Voida, cinematographer Eitvydas Doškus, editor Gintarė Sokelytė, composer Elena Šataitė, and photographer Augis Narmontas, all of whom created a joint interpretation of the piece.

“Plants breaking free from the grip of melting ice most likely evokes the coming of spring. Looking more closely, it could also symbolize the unveiling of a stagnant internal state. Some may think of current topics, the awaited end to restrictions, the threat of climate change, others may be reminded of trips to warm-weather destinations. Art is open to various interpretations and emotions, this multiplicity is what the festival is about,” said Creative Director of the festival Kęstutis Gerliakas.

CEO of Vilnius IFF Algirdas Ramaška assured audiences that the festival team is working hard to organize a true celebration of cinema. “Viewers can look forward to films from around the globe, interviews with filmmakers, original decisions that enhance the viewing experience, and other excellent events. We miss in-person meetings just like everyone else and hope to soon invite audiences to movie theatres as well,” said Ramaška.

Vilnius IFF will launch a digital platform for its March 18 – April 5 online edition. The festival’s selection of films will also be available for streaming on TELIA TV and “Žmonės Cinema”.

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.

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