Baltic Poetic Documentary

Traditions And Transitions

Saturday / 29.09.2018 / 18:00 / Casa das Artes / Baltic Eye 2

“They couldn’t say the truth and they didn’t want to lie – they just wanted to make films” – a wave of poetic documentary was suddenly born in the occupied Baltic countries, as a response to the suppressive Soviet government. When the cinemas were filled only with propaganda, Baltic filmmakers started inventing a new language only they understood. The paradox is that the new speech was silent. It was a language of long stares, deep sighs and complex metaphors. To stay quiet and create poetry on screen was the only way to get hidden messages to the viewers, so the Soviet censors wouldn’t ban the film. The resulting films all share a very immersive quality, implicating and involving the viewer with the content presented.

The first one was Robertas Verba who is called the father of poetic documentary in Lithuania, “the icebreaker who broke through the ice of Soviet ideology to form the peculiar stylistics of Lithuanian documentary film”. Many filmmakers of his generation continued the aesthetics of poetic and metaphorical filmmaking. The non-narrative style, emotional depth and search for self-identity built a strong base for further exploration of the poetic style.

When some traditions were already settled, time for some transitions came. With the Soviet Union falling down, more filmmakers thought of recording the fragile state of the changing reality. Baltic films opened a new world to Western Europe, which was built on cinema traditions and moral values of the older generation’s directors. The new generation rejected declarativity and immersed themselves into the silent observation of reality. This new movement also brought many awards to the Baltic states, such as the Main prize in the Oberhausen International Film Festival, IDFA public prize, European Film Academy award for the Best Documentary Film. The young creators were noticed and highly appreciated internationally by film critics, professionals. It showed that the unique poetic style of Baltic documentary is valued everywhere, because it is able to capture the depth of life at its core. “Baltic poetic documentary cinema created an independent world, free from soviet ideology, lie and propaganda. It was a declaration of inner freedom. The black and white world of poetic documentary films was full of colours. Sadness was full of joy. And joy was touched by deep existential sadness. These films reminded us about the very core of cinema—to film and to enjoy the beauty of the leaves, moving in the wind.” said the Lithuanian filmmaker Audrius Stonys.

The wave of poetic documentary was not a temporary occurrence – the directors mentioned are still creating today and influencing filmmakers all around the world. Directors’ Guild of America (DGA) Award, main awards in Leipzig, IDFA, ZagrebDox and tens of other prestigious festivals are a proof of the significance and value of the Baltic poetic documentaries. It was and still is a unique phenomenon in all European Cinema.

PROGRAM

The Old Man and The Land

Robertas Verba | Lithuania | 1965 | Doc. | Sub. PT/EN

Synopsis

This film is considered one of the iconic early features of Lithuanian poetic documentary cinema. The hero of this film is the bright Lithuanian villager Anupras, whose archaic worldview becomes a symbol of the ethno- cultural Lithuanian identity that was often opposed to the identity constructed by Soviet propaganda. Baltic Film Festival / Diploma for Directing 2nd All-State Film Festival / Diploma for Directing and more.

Director

He studied the cinematography in Leningrad high school of cinema engineers, and graduated Moscow Cinematography Institute as a cameraman. Robertas Verba started his work in Lithuanian Film Studio as a cameraman filming short stories for newsreels. But soon he has been given a possibility to make a debut as a film director. In 1965 he created film essay „An Old Man and a Land”, which gave him a name of the Pioneer of Lithuanian potery documentary.

A Trip Across Misty Meadows

Henrikas Šablevičius | Lithuania | 1973 | Doc. | Sub. PT/EN

Synopsis

This film continues the tradition of Lithuanian poetic documentary. It details the dismantling of the old railway Siaurukas in Lithuania and the construction of its new modern replacement. The film was often considered as an expression of the archetypes of Lithuanian character. International Prizes in Czechoslovakia, Germany, Georgia, Estonia and more.

Director

Henrikas Sablevicius was a writer and director, known for Mazos musu nuodemes/Our Little Sins (1980), Gyvieji didvyriai/The living Heroes (1960) and Atspindziai/Reflections (1968).

10 Minutes Before the Flight of Icarus

Arūnas Matelis | Lithuania | 1990 | Doc. | Sub. PT/EN

Synopsis

This film is considered to be a manifesto of the post-soviet generation filmmakers, a rejection of the straight-forward declarative approach. Oberhausen International Film Festival / Main prize Bornholm International Film & TV festival / 3rd prize Parnu International Film Festival / Special prize and more.

Director

Arunas Matelis, director and producer of more than 10 documentaries, films that critics call “poetic documentaries”. Arunas’ films were selected for Cannes (‘Directors’ Fortnight’ and ‘Critics’ Week’), IDFA / Amsterdam, Leipzig, Turin, Sao Paulo, Oberhausen, Rotterdam, Moscow, Silverdocs, Split, ZagrebDox, Documenta Madrid, screened at MoMA, Pompidou, received more than 20 international awards. His most recent film “Wonderful Losers” represents Lithuania in the 2019 edition of the Oscars.

Before Flying Back to Earth

Arūnas Matelis | Lithuania | 2005 | Doc. | Sub. PT/EN

Synopsis

This film is the most highly acclaimed recent Lithuanian film. In a lyrical, yet unsentimental fashion, it shows the lives of children hospitalized with leukemia in Vilnius. Directors Guild of America / DGA Award IDFA / Main prize Leipzig DOK Festival / Main prize EFA / Nomination for Best European documentary film ZagrebDox / Main prize and more.

Director

Arunas Matelis, director and producer of more than 10 documentaries, films that critics call “poetic documentaries”. Arunas’ films were selected for Cannes (‘Directors’ Fortnight’ and ‘Critics’ Week’), IDFA / Amsterdam, Leipzig, Turin, Sao Paulo, Oberhausen, Rotterdam, Moscow, Silverdocs, Split, ZagrebDox, Documenta Madrid, screened at MoMA, Pompidou, received more than 20 international awards. His most recent film “Wonderful Losers” represents Lithuania in the 2019 edition of the Oscars.


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