Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (or PÖFF), the biggest international film event in the Baltics, kicks off today. This year, the A class festival is exceptionally rich in Lithuanian offerings: as the Baltic states are celebrating the centenary of their statehood, PÖFF features the biggest programme of Lithuanian cinema in the festival’s history along with two Lithuanian films to have their world premieres in Tallinn.
New Lithuanian-produced or co-produced features, documentaries, shorts and a restored classic film will screen in the festival’s competition and non-competitive sections and will be presented by a big delegation of filmmakers. Lithuanian film industry professionals will also present their projects at PÖFF’s annual industry events. Delegates of the Lithuanian Film Centre will acquaint the international film community with the results and future outlook of the government’s tax incentive for film production in Lithuania.
PÖFF’s competitive programme First Feature Competition, showcasing debut features representing youthful vivacity, questing ideas and unexpected viewpoints, will include the world premiere of Ernestas Jankauskas’ Sasha Was Here (production company Dansu Films). The film will compete with 18 other works from over 20 countries across Europe and the world, including Morocco, India, Iran, Mexico, Canada and Japan. Sasha Was Here will be presented by the film’s director Jankauskas, producers Gabija Siurbytė and Rūta Petronytė, scriptwriter Birutė Kapustinskaitė, cast members Valentin Novopolskij and Markas Eimontas.
After a seven-year break, this year’s PÖFF returns with the Baltic Film Competition. Of the 11 fiction films, documentaries and animations in the programme, seven have been produced or co-produced by Lithuanian production companies.
Among them are Edita Kabaraitė’s documentary 100 Years Together and Audrius Stonys’ and Kristīne Briede’s Bridges of Time which has recently won the Best Documentary award at the Latvian national film awards. The Baltic Film Competition also includes three Lithuanian feature films: Marija Kavtaradzė’s road movie Summer Survivors, Giedrė Beinoriūtė’s drama Breathing into Marble and Marius A. Markevičius’ Ashes in the Snow.
Lithuanian filmmakers have also been involved in the minority co-production of several other films presented in PÖFF’s Baltic Film Competition: Bille (directed by Ināra Kolmane, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic), a family film that has received the Best Film award in Latvia, and Foam at the Mouth (Latvia, Lithuania, Poland), directed by Latvian filmmaker Jānis Nords.
This year’s PÖFF competition programmes also feature Lithuanian jury members. The composer Martynas Bialobžeskis, who last year received the festival’s prize for the score he composed for the Estonian-Lithuanian co-production The Man Slayer. The Virgin. The Shadow (directed by Sulev Keedus), has been invited to judge films in the Official Selection. Meanwhile Lina Užkuraitytė, the director of International Vilnius Film Festival for Children and Youth, will be a member of the ECFA jury to award the Best Children’s Film at Tallinn Black Nights sub-festival Just Film.
PÖFF non-competitive programmes will also be rich in Lithuanian offerings. In Focus: 100-Year-Olds, showcasing the Baltic nations’ film heritage on the occasion of their statehood centenary, will feature one of the best works of classical Lithuanian cinema, Arūnas Žebriūnas’ The Beauty (1969). The film, whose restoration and digitisation was commissioned by the Lithuanian Film Centre, will be presented by the film historian Lina Kaminskaitė-Jančorienė.
The non-competitive programme Panorama, made up of a broad selection of internationally recognised films, will screen minority co-production Core of the World (Russia, Lithuania) directed by well-known Russian filmmaker Natalia Meshchaninova.
PÖFF Shorts, a sub-festival for short and animated films running on November 20–28, collects some of the best new shorts by Lithuanian young-generation filmmakers. The special programme Baltic 100: Lithuanian Stories includes By the Pool directed by Laurynas Bareiša, Snake directed by Titas Laucius, The Last Day directed by Klaudija Matvejevaitė, The Mother’s Day directed by Kamilė Milašiūtė, and Watchkeeping directed by Karolis Kaupinis.
Another programme DOC@Shorts includes the world premiere of Ričardas Matačius’ short documentary Nest. A Movie About Two People and Two Birds. The film will be presented by the producer Urtė Aškelovičiūtė (Incubus Films) and cinematographer Adomas Jablonskis.
PÖFF’s 17th Baltic Event Co-production Market, running on November 27–30, has selected 16 feature film projects in development. Among them is Ernestas Jankauskas’ Oxygen (produced by Dansu Films). The intense four-day Co-production Market will allow filmmakers to present their projects to potential supporters, co-producers and sales agents. The best project will receive Eurimages Co-Production Development Award of 20 000 Euros.
Films in production from the Baltic region and Finland will be presented in the Baltic Event Works in Progress programme. The annual event, launched in 2003, this year will include Marat Sargsyan’s feature The Flood Won’t Come (produced by Tremora) and Latvian-Czech-Lithuanian co-production City on the River (directed by Viesturs Kairišs).
Jorė Janavičiūtė will present her short film On Time at Baltic Preview, a networking event for professionals within the framework of PÖFF Shorts.
The Lithuanian Film Centre is an official partner of Baltic Event, also partially supporting the participation of Lithuanian film industry professionals at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.