MOMA Celebrates Lithuanian Cinema

MOMA in New York needs no further introduction as the museum of modern art. Less known – at least in Europe – is it that this museum, often much more precise and professional than festivals all over, put together interesting film series for its huge audience. This time it is about “Lithuanian Cinema: 1990–2009” from December 4, 2009–December 13, 2009. Here is the fine intro text from the site of MOMA:

This is the first U.S. survey to explore the last twenty years of fiction and nonfiction feature and short films from Lithuania. Since the Baltic republic declared its independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Lithuanian filmmakers, unconstrained by ideology and despite limited infrastructure, have made a number of distinguished works exploring themes of identity—both personal and national—in original, passionate, and provocative ways. 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 are enjoying their American premieres. All films are from Lithuania and in Lithuanian with English subtitles.

Readers of this site will know that Lithuanian documentaries very often have been noted or reviewed – these are the documentaries selected by MOMA:
The shorter ones are ”Ten Minutes Before the Flight of Icarus” (Arunas Matelis, 1991), ”Earth of the Blind” (Audrius Stonys, 1992), ”Spring” (Valdas Navasaitis, 1997), ”Grandpa and Grandma” (Giedre Beinoriute, 2007), and the longer ones ”Before the Flight Back to the Earth” (Arunas Matelis, 2005) and ”Man-Horse” (Audrius Mickevicius, 2008).

The small photo is from “Man-Horse”. The director wrote to me these lines: “Next wednesday I will fly to NY. I am happy for my neighbour Jonas. The longest trip in his life was about 100 km, now his images will be more far away.”

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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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