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MoMA to Feature Lithuanian Films from 1990 to 2009

When Lithuania regained its independence on March 1990, state funding for filmmaking reduVortex. 2009. Lithuania.ced significantly and directors had to turn to the smaller studios that had emerged. Lithuanian filmmakers continued to push on, releasing numerous distinguished works exploring themes of identity — both personal and national  — despite the limitations they faced.

The Museum of Modern Art will be exploring these last 20 years of fiction and nonfiction Lithuanian features and short films. Lithuanian Cinema: 1990-2009 is the first U.S. survey of films from this Baltic republic and will screen at the Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters at the MoMA from Dec. 4 through Dec. 13, 2009.

Some Lithuanian filmmakers have earned international reputations, including Sarunas Bartas; Arunas Matelis, who was awarded the Directors Guild of America Best Documentary Filmmaker award in 2007 for Before Flying Back to Earth; and Jonas Mekas, whose creative and organizational activity in the U.S. has been essential to American independent filmmaking. Other filmmakers like Raimundas Banionis and the team of Romas Lileikis and Stasys Motiejunas, whose films appeared early in the “liberation” of Lithuanian cinema, deserve to be better known abroad — as do Kristina Buozyte (The Collectress) and Gytis Luksas (Vortex), both of whom will have their American premieres.

All films are from Lithuania and in Lithuanian with English subtitles, unless otherwise noted. Tickets for the screenings are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for full-time students. Admission is free for MoMA members and museum ticketholders.


Dec. 4
4 p.m.
  — Vaikai is ‘Amerikos viesbucio’ (Children from “Hotel America”)
directed by Raimundas Banionis
In Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, a group of young people listen to prohibited Western music and surreptitiously attempt to create a Woodstock of their own.

7 p.m.  — Trys dienos (Three Days)
directed by Sarunas Bartas
Two friends from Lithuania travel to Soviet Kaliningrad, hoping to find companionship in an allied state. Bartas will be present at the Dec. 4 screening to introduce the film.

Dec. 5
1 p.m. — Two award-winning documentaries
Pries parskrendant i zeme (Before Flying Back to Earth)
directed by Arunas Matelis
Matelis’s daughter was treated for leukemia in a children’s ward in Vilnius. After her release, the filmmaker returned to record the lives and dreams of the children who remained.

Zmogus arklys (Man-Horse)
directed by Audrius Mickevicius
Seasons and regimes change, but an elderly farmer remains tied to his faithful horse.

5:30 p.m.  — Namas (The House)
directed by Sarunas Bartas
Might a house — strangely situated, curiously occupied, both welcoming and frightening — be a metaphor for an entire nation?

6 p.m.  — Trys dienos (Three Days)
See description under Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.
8 p.m.  — Kolekcioniere (The Collectress)
directed by Kristina Buozyte
When a respected pediatrician suddenly finds that she cannot experience any emotions unless she is utterly humiliated, her desire to feel leads to ever more desperate measures.

Dec. 6
1 p.m.  — As esu (I Am)
directed by Romas Lileikis and Stasys Motiejunas
A young boy with a vivid imagination witnesses social changes that he cannot understand.

3 p.m.  — Six Lithuanian shorts
10 minuciu pres Ikaro skrydi (10 Minutes before the Flight of Icarus)
directed by Arunas Matelis
Documentary about Uzupis, a special neighborhood in Vilnius

Earth of the Blind (Neregiu zeme)
directed by Audrius Stonys
Short film explores the inner world of the blind.
Spring (Pavasaris)

directed by Valdas Navasaitis
An old man lives in a frequently flooded area.

Vilkas (The Wolf)

directed by Julius Ziz
A man is taken to be executed.

Gyveno senelis ir bobute (Grandpa and Grandma)

directed by Giedre Beinoriute
Beinoriute investigates her grandparents’ exile to Siberia in 1948.

The Window

directed by Julius Ziz
The filmmaker gives another perspective of looking at the world.
5 p.m. 
— Two award-winning documentaries
See description under Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.

Dec. 7
4:30 p.m.  —   Kolekcioniere (The Collectress)
See description under Dec. 5 at 8 p.m.

Dec. 9

4 p.m.  — As esu (I Am)
See description under Dec. 6 at 1 p.m.

6:15 p.m.
  — Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR
Directed by Jonas Mekas
Using a video camera to film news broadcasts from his television screen, Mekas recorded the rocky and dramatic transition from Lithuania's declaration of independence in March 1990 to its induction into the United Nations in September 1991.

Dec. 10
4 p.m. 
— Six Lithuanian shorts
See description under Dec. 6 at 3 p.m.

Dec. 11

7 p.m.Duburys (Vortex)
directed by Gytis Luksas
An exquisite black-and-white chronicle of a young man’s shifting relationships as he adjusts rather dramatically to the unfamiliarity of freedom.

Dec. 12
1 p.m.  — Namas (The House)
See description under Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

3:15 p.m. 
Duburys (Vortex)
See description under Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.

Dec. 13

12:30 p.m.  — Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR
See description under Dec. 9 at 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 14

7 p.m.  — Vaikai is ‘Amerikos viesbucio’ (Children from “Hotel America”)
See description under Dec. 4 at 4 p.m.

For more information, check out:

Lithuanian Cinema: 1990-2009
The Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53rd Street, New York City
Dec. 4 to Dec. 13, 2009

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