Meet the Filmmakers of the 2023 New York Baltic Film Festival

Filmmaker talks and Q&As have now been announced for the 6th Annual New York Baltic Film Festival (NYBFF) presented by Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America! The festival returns this year with in-person screenings of the best new and critically-acclaimed Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian films in NYC from November 8-12 and virtually November 10-19, with 13 screenings — including eight narrative features, three documentaries, and one TV series — including two International Premieres, six North American Premieres, and one New York Premiere. 

We are proud to bring many of the filmmakers to New York to participate in Q&As after premieres. The festival will kick off with an Opening Night Celebration on Wednesday, November 8 at 6:30 PM featuring the North American Premiere of Remember to Blink (Per Arti, Lithuania, 2023). Director Austėja Urbaitė will present a film talk on her captivating drama about a French couple who adopt two Lithuanian children and enlist a young student to serve as interpreter and nanny, an arrangement that soon gives way to underlying tensions and cultural clashes. The recipient of several awards including Best Film at GoEast Film Festival, Urbaitė’s film deftly explores human intricacies and the boundaries of culture and identity, as well as the “Neo-colonialism” reflecting broader conflicts. Urbaitė will also be present for a Q&A at a second screening of Remember to Blink on Saturday, November 11 at 1 PM.  

On Saturday, November 11 at 8:15 PMMarija Kavtaradzė will be present for a screening and film Q&A on her moving film Slow (Tu man nieko neprimeni, Lithuania/Spain/Sweden, 2023), which explores an unconventional relationship that develops between a contemporary dancer and a sign language interpreter and has been selected as Lithuania’s contender for Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards (screening in-person only). On Sunday, November 12 at 7 PMAnna Hints holds a film Q&A following a screening of her intimate documentary Smoke Sauna Sisterhood, which explores the cultural tradition of Vana-Võromaa’s smoke saunas in South Estonia and their role in healing, community and childbirth. The first Estonian film to win an award for directing at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in the World Documentary category, Smoke Sauna Sisterhood was selected as Estonia’s Best International Feature Film contender at next year’s Academy Awards and has recently been acclaimed as “magnificent visual poetry” (Jonathan Romney, Financial Times) (screening in-person only).

On Thursday, November 9 at 6:30 PM, the festival will feature a special evening in support of Ukraine with a screening of the short documentary What Would You Take? (Mille Sina võtaksid, dir. Heilika Pikkov, Estonia, 2023), which tells the stories of 12 people from the Ukraine who had to leave home with only their bare essentials. Director Heilika Pikkov will be present for a panel moderated by Andrew Horodysky (Ukrainian Institute of America) as well as painter Lesia Khomenko and art historian and curator Katherine Carl; the evening will conclude with a concert by Estonian musician Maria Faust.

On November 10 at 6 PM, Estonian composer, saxophonist and feminist Maria Faust will also be present for a screening of Kaupo Kruusiauk’s Machina Faust, a documentary offering an unfiltered look at her accomplishments as an artist and battles with trauma and domestic violence (also screening virtually from November 11-19). On November 10 at 8 PM, producers Māris Lagzdiņš and Zane Ozoliņa will be present for a screening of their film anthology Collective (Kolektīvs, Latvia, 2023), which presents unique perspectives on the participants of the Latvian Song and Dance Festival through different and often-humorous shorts from six different directors; they will be joined by some of the film directors, including Papa Chi (“Manwhore and Fish”) and Mārtiņš Grauds (“Kristīne”) (also screening virtually from November 11-19).

On Saturday, November 11 at 3:15 PM, Estonian actress Maarja Johanna Mägi will be present for a screening of Melchior the Apothecary: The Executioner’s Daughter (Apteeker Melchior. Timuka tütar, dir. Elmo Nüganen, Estonia/Germany/ Latvia/Lithuania, 2023), the third installment of a film trilogy based on Indrek Hargla’s bestselling book series about an apothecary solving crimes in medieval Tallinn, in which Mägi plays the titular character’s love interest and wife. (Also screening virtually from November 12-19; the first two films of the series, Melchior the Apothecary (Apteeker Melchior, 2022) and The Ghost (Viirastus, 2022), will screen virtually only from November 10-19.) On November 11 at 5:30 PM, film composer Raimonds Tigals will be present for the screening and a Q&A on Soviet Milk (Mātes piens, Latvia/Belgium, 2023), a poignant study of resilience and sacrifice set in Soviet-occupied Latvia from 1945-89; the event will also feature a pre-recorded Q&A with director Ināra Kolmane and Nora Iksten, who authored the the bestselling novel on which the film is based. (Also screening virtually from November 12-19.)

On November 12 at 2 PM, director Armands Zvirbulis will be present for a screening of the first two episodes of Crime Solving for Beginners (Krimināllieta iesācējam, Latvia/Lithuania, 2022), his gripping Baltic Noir television series set within the turbulent landscape of post-Soviet Latvia, which follows three intertwining plotlines in the wake of a nationalist MP aide’s murder; all episodes screening virtually from November 13-19. And on November 12 at 4:15 PM, director Giedrius Tamoševičius will be present for a screening and Q&A of The Poet (Poetas, co-directed with Vytautas V. Landsbergis, Lithuania, 2022), which follows the journey of a disgraced poet in post-war Lithuania who is recruited by the KGB to infiltrate a partisan group (also screening virtually from November 13-19).

In-person screenings and events will take place at Scandinavia House in New York (58 Park Ave, 10016); the online version will once again be available to viewers all across the U.S. on Scandinavia House’s screening platform Elevent from November 10-19 (full schedule here).