Lithuanian Classics

I write this in a summer house on Bornholm. On this island I met – for ten consecutive years – Henrikas Sablevicius, the godfather of the so-called poetic Lithuanian documentary. I never spoke directly to him (no English from his side, no Russian or Lithuanian from mine) but he was always there to defend the non-propagandistic documentary and his influence was enormous on the young filmmakers.

When in Vilnius a week ago I was given a dvd with four films, one of them by Sablevicius ”Trip throught a Brume Meadow” (1973, 10 mins.), an earlier one by R. Verba ”A hundred-Year-Old-Desires” (1969, 20 mins.) and two by the students of Sablevicius – ”Ten Minutes before the Flight of Ikaros” by Arunas Matelis (1990, 10  mins.) and ”World of the Blind” by Audrius Stonys (1992, 24 mins).

The two first films include some text that is not translated, the film of Matelis has subtitles, Stonys film is (almost) wordless.

All four films describe – in stunning 35 images and with composed music and with masterly use of sound – people and landscapes in that spiritual language that is Lithuanian documentary.

Sablevicius died a couple of years ago. He also introduced me to 999. Thanks.

www.documentary.lt Photo: Henrikas Sablevicius.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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