The opening night of the inaugural New York Baltic Film Festival presents three classic films: the first Lithuanian musical The Devil’s Bride (Lithuania, 1974), as well as short films The White Bells (Latvia, 1964) and 511 Best Photographs From Mars (Estonia, 1968).
The Devil’s Bride/Velnio nuotaka
One of the most startling films to come out of the Baltics in the 1970s, The Devil’s Bride is the first Lithuanian musical, following a Faust-like plot about a demon promising riches to a mill owner in exchange for the hand of his daughter. Jointly created by director Arūnas Žebriūnas, composer Vyacheslav Ganelin, and scriptwriter Sigitas Geda, The Devil’s Bride was often compared to a northern European variation on the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. (78 min, Lithuania, 1974)
The White Bells/Baltie zvani (NYC Premiere Screening)
In this short film by Ivars Kraulitis, regarded as the cornerstone of Latvia’s Poetic Documentary School, a small girl wanders through the rush-hour streets of Riga in search of white bells she saw earlier in florist’s window. Surrounded by physical dangers on all sides, her imperviousness to threats as she pursues her goals could be likened to Latvia’s own quest to define itself on the European geopolitical map. (24 min, Latvia, 1964)
511 Best Photographs from Mars/511 paremat fotot Marsist
Estonian film makers had a delicious sense of humor even when it was under occupation. Exhibit number one is this droll look at Tallin’s social life, where ladies and gentlemen are filmed taking tea in city cafeterias much as if they were objects of study from another planet, set to a sparkling music track by director Andres Sööt featuring the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Handel, and Strauss, as well as offscreen commentary including poetry by Arthur Alliksaar and news of the latest discoveries of Mars. (15 min, Estonia, 1968)
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
Arūnas Žebriūnas (The Devil’s Bride)
Arūnas Žebriūnas started his career in film-making in 1947 as an assistant to the art director. In 1955 he became the art director at the Lithuanian Film Studio. In 1960, he debuted as a film director turning the novel Paskutinis šūvis (The Last Shot) into the film Gyvieji didvyriai (Living Heroes). It was the first series of Lithuanian shorts which attained an international recognition at the 12th Karlovy Vary Festival in 1960. After training under the well-known Russian film director Mikhail Romm in Moscow Žebriūnas created one of his most remarkable films Paskutinė atostogų diena (The Girl and the Echo) awarded the All-Union prizes, the Silver Sails Prize at the Locarno Festival, and the Grand Prize at the Cannes Youth Film Festival. Many of Žebriūnas’ films coloured with lyricism and slight humor aim to reveal the inner world of children and adolescents. After turning to adult themes, Žebriūnas created very plastic, coloured and somewhat decorative films on human passions and exhausting forces. In 2010, Žebriūnas received the Lithuanian Film Academy Award “Golden Crane” for lifetime achievement in Lithuanian filmmaking. In 2011, he was awarded the National Culture and Art Prize “for the work that paved the way for Lithuanian poetic cinematography, which had always used its unique language to herald the highest humanist values.”
Ivars Kraulītis (The White Bells)
Ivars Kraulītis was born on January 2, 1937 in Tukums, Latvia. In 1961, Ivars Kraulītis graduated from directing faculty of the State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. The White Bells was his diploma work. The film immediately gained international acclaim and was later recognized as a turning point in the Latvian film history, as it laid the foundations for the Baltic poetic documentary cinema style. After graduation, Kraulītis becomes a state director at the Riga Film Studio, but his talents are not fully appreciated until 1963 when he was allowed to direct a 5-minute advertising film Dzintars, while in 1964 Kraulītis is featured in the full length documentary film Lielums(Rainis). Kraulītis works at the Riga Film Studio until 1966.
Andres Sööt (511 Best Photographs from Mars)
Andres Sööt (b. 1934). Selected filmography: Ruhnu (1965), 511 Best Photographs of Mars (511 paremat fotot Marsist, 1968), Conductors (Dirigendid, 1975), Midsummer Day (Jaanipäev, 1978), Year of the Dragon (Draakoni aasta, 1988), Konrad Mägi (2001), Camino (2011)
2018 New York Baltic Film Festival
The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been producing motion pictures since 1910. While not as well-known as those in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, their industries have met challenges in one era or another that ultimately only galvanized their creative ambitions for features, documentaries, and animation shorts. Through the screening of both the latest productions and selected classics, the inaugural 2018 New York Baltic Film Festival offers an unprecedented opportunity to see the best in northern European film making.
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. Programming support is from the Estonian Film Institute, National Film Center of Latvia, and Lithuanian Film Center. Funding for the festival is courtesy of governments of the Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and by the generous donations of members of the Baltic community in New York. Additional support to the festival is from the Lithuanian Cultural Institute, the Consulate General of Finland in New York, and the American Scandinavian Foundation.
THU—October 18—7 PM
$12 ($7 ASF Members)
Series Pass $90 ($55 ASF Members)