November 12-15. This year, the festival will expand beyond New York to offer a selection of the most exciting and relevant Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian films to audiences across the U.S., to view in the comfort of their own homes. Through the screening of the latest productions in three sessions of Baltic Comedies, Baltic Thrillers, and a Baltic Showcase, the virtual festival offers an unprecedented opportunity to see the best in northern European film making.
This inaugural weekend, LAUGH & CRY, will showcase Baltic comedies: Chasing Unicorns (Ükssarvik, dir: Rain Rannu, Estonia, 2019); Nearby (Blakus, dir: Alise Zariņa, Latvia, 2019); and The Castle (Pilis, dir: Lina Lužytė, Lithuania/Ireland, 2019).
Festival films will be available to ticket holders all over the U.S., with one ticket giving the holder access to all films in a package. Each session is limited to 300 tickets in an effort to preserve the intimate and communal NYBFF experience. The sessions will take place over four days (Thursday — Sunday), and all films from the session will be available for viewing on a virtual cinema screening platform throughout this period. Festival sessions will be accompanied by live and interactive virtual filmmaker Q&As and discussion panels.
Established in 2018, the New York Baltic Film Festival is presented by Scandinavia House and organized by the Consulate General of Estonia, Consulate General of Lithuania, and Consulate of Latvia in New York. Financial support for the festival comes from the Estonian Film Institute, National Film Center of Latvia, and Lithuanian Film Center, with additional sponsorship by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, American Latvian Association and LV-100.
LAUGH & CRY: BALTIC COMEDIES
Chasing Unicorns (Ükssarvik, dir: Rain Rannu, Estonia, 2019)
Nearby (Blakus, dir: Alise Zariņa, Latvia, 2019)
The Castle (Pilis, dir: Lina Lužytė, Lithuania/Ireland, 2019)
STRESS & RELEASE: BALTIC THRILLERS
October 29-November 1
Pretenders (Teesklejad, dir: Vallo Toomla, Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania, 2016)
Foam at the Mouth (Ar putām uz lūpām, dir: Jānis Nords, Latvia/Poland/Lithuania, 2017)
Invisible (Nematoma, dir: Ignas Jonynas, Lithuania/Latvia/Ukraine/Spain, 2019)
LOOKING INWARD & FORWARD: BALTIC SHOWCASE
Truth and Justice (Tõde ja õigus, dir: Tanel Toom, Estonia, 2019)
Oleg (Oļegs, dir: Juris Kursietis, Latvia/Belgium/Lithuania/France, 2019)
The Lawyer (Advokatas, dir: Romas Zabarauskas, Lithuania, 2020)
ABOUT THE FILMS
Chasing Unicorns /Ükssarvik
Õie is a recently unemployed young woman from a small town in Estonia – a country where founding start-ups is considered a national sport – with big dreams of creating… a pretty bicycle helmet. She accidentally stumbles across witless, but jovial Tõnu who has not only bankrupted every company he has ever set up, but has outright been advised never to start one again. Their chance meeting kicks off a series of events that take them on a journey from sleeping on a couch in Tallinn, to sleeping in designer chairs and being waited on by robots in San Francisco. Õie’s enthusiasm and determination to make it in the hypermasculine world of start-ups is balanced out by Tõnu’s insider know-how as their pitches for funding become increasingly ambitious. Based on real stories and director Rain Rannu’s personal experiences in the tech industry, Chasing Unicorns is a fast-paced and lighthearted look at a truly Estonian phenomenon. (2019, Estonia. In Estonian with English Subtitles) 107 min.
Luīze and Kaspars meet by chance on a road trip on their way to celebrate Līgo (Latvian Midsummer’s Eve). She is trying to escape her annoying neighbors and a nagging sense of malaise, while he is trying to escape his failing marriage. They’re both young, full of life, and… lost. They both want to become artists, but are unsure quite how to live their lives. The film spans three Līgo celebrations, and maps three years of a relationship in which light banter mixes with honest arguments, witty road trips with wild parties. Winner of Best Screenplay at the Latvian National Film Awards in 2019, Nearby is an empathetic, personal view of what it’s like to be young and in love today. Directed by Alise Zariņa (2019, Latvia. In Latvian with English subtitles) 87 min.
The Castle /Pilis
Monika is a 13-year old singer. She has just arrived in Dublin from Lithuania and lives in a small apartment on a bustling housing estate with her mother, Jolanta, and grandmother who has dementia. Even though Jolanta is a talented pianist, she works hard at a local fish factory. Money is scarce, and she ends up selling her daughter’s prized keyboard. Unlike her mother, Monika refuses to give up on her musical dreams and is convinced that the mother-daughter duo will get their big break. After performing at a funeral, Monika’s dreams finally seem to be answered when they are invited to play at a place enticingly called The Castle, but Jolanta refuses instead accepting a promotion at the factory. With single-minded determination Monika embarks on an endless series of schemes to buy back her keyboard, and ultimately get to The Castle. The Castle is a fresh look at economic migration, and a heartwarming tale of three generations of women and their eclectic neighbors. Directed by Lina Lužytė (2020 Lithuania / Ireland. In Lithuanian and English with English subtitles) 90 min.