The Vilnius International Film Festival is in its 22nd year and is the largest cinematic event in Lithuania. Over 200 films are screened each year from a wide variety of categories.
23rd March 2017 – 6th April 2017
Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Directed by Andreas Johnsen
Although scientists and agribusiness have started touting edible insects as the future of sustainable food, the notion of eating bugs hasn’t exactly gained much popularity among the general public. Ben, Josh and Roberto, three charismatic young chefs from René Redzepi’s experimental Nordic Food Lab, investigate around the world how insects are eaten – said to be the future of food. With a focus on food diversity and deliciousness, they set out on a globe-trotting mission to take on the politics of the palate, sampling grubs in the Australian outback, pillaging giant wasp nests in Japan and attending food expos where entrepreneurs pitch their flavourless farmed crickets.
The War Show
Directed by Andreas Dalsgaard & Obaidah Zytoon
In March 2011, radio host Obaidah Zytoon and her circle of friends join the street protests against President Bashar al-Assad, as the Arab Spring reaches Syria. Knowing their country would be changed forever, this group of artists and activists begin filming their lives and the events around them. But as the regime’s violent response spirals the country into a bloody civil war, their hopes for a better future will be tested by violence, imprisonment and death. Obaidah leaves Damascus and journeys around the country, from her hometown of Zabadani, to the center of the rebellion in Homs, and to northern Syria where she witnesses the rise of extremism. A deeply personal road movie, the film captures the fate of Syria through the intimate lens of a small circle of friends.
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
This film tells two stories that converge after forty minutes. The first of these features Khaled, a Syrian refugee. A stowaway on a coal freighter, he ends up in Helsinki where he applies for asylum without much hope of success. Wikström, the second main character, is a travelling salesman peddling ties and men’s shirts. Turning his back on his trade, he instead decides to put his poker face to good use at a gambling table and subsequently buys himself a restaurant in the remotest corner of Helsinki. When the authorities turn down Khaled’s application, he decides to remain in the country illegally, like so many other people who share his fate. Going underground in the Finnish capital, he lives on the streets and encounters all kinds of racism, but also some cool rock ’n’ rollers and genuine friendship. One day Wikström discovers Khaled sleeping in the dark backyard behind his restaurant. He provides him with a bed and a job.
The Man Who Knew 75 Languages
Learning a language is like falling in love. But when this great linguist’s love for a princess was denied, he just fell in love with her 75 times more. The film is about the remarkable life of a poor priest’s son – Georg Julius Justus Sauerwein and his life-long love for Princess Elisabeth of Wied, later Queen of Romania. This is a psychological drama about a brilliant but complex man. His humanitarian values were far ahead of his time. In his day, he was the most vilified person in the German press. Based on Sauerwein’s letters and other written sources and narrated from the first person, the film merges the classic fairytale with documentary realism, both in script and visual design, pushing the boundaries of documentary.
The ex-Yugoslavian cult band Laibach has been raising controversy ever since its foundation over 35 years ago. This is not only because of its music, but also due to the striking visual language. Laibach incorporates elements from military and industrial films, and these, together with their clothing, give rise to both admiration and disgust. The band has even been accused of associations with Nazism. Ironically enough, the band was invited to play in Pyongyang, North Korea in celebration of the country’s Liberation Day. The film follows the members of the band, their entourage and artist and concert organizer Morten Traavik (also co-director of this film) from their arrival in North Korea until the concert. The preparations are hampered by a lack of technical facilities, cultural differences and constant interference from the censors.
Elle Marja is a teenage Sámi girl in the 1930s who is sent to a boarding school that is intended to raise its Indigenous charges to a level “acceptable” to the rest of Swedish society. Curious and excited, Elle Marja at first excels in her new surroundings, mastering the Swedish language and her other lessons while her younger sister, Njenna, struggles. But this very success, coupled with Elle Marja’s intense desire to be accepted by her teachers, her internalization of the school’s vile lessons about race and class, and her burgeoning sexuality, soon drives a wedge between her and her fellow students, forcing her to take an action she may not have the opportunity to regret.
All synopses from the festival website