by Laurence Boyce
- Zivile Gallego established her own production company, Fralita Films, where she now produces documentaries and features
Lithuanian producer Zivile Gallego’s first professional experience was linked to television, dealing with acquisitions and travelling to markets to search for content. After meeting inspiring filmmakers on her travels, she decided to direct her energy towards that field. She took a filmmaking course at the New York Film Academy’s branch in Los Angeles, and - after her studies - came back to Lithuania and started to work for Lithuanian Film Studios. She established her own production company, Fralita Films, where she now produces documentaries and features.
Cineuropa: You worked on The Summer of Sangaile [+see also:
interview: Alanté Kavaïté
film profile], which premiered at Sundance. What was it like being part of such a relatively high-profile film?
Zivile Gallego: I very much liked Alante Kavaite's first film, Fissures [+see also:
film profile], and I wanted to bring this artist to Lithuania (as she lives permanently in France). She had a nice project that she also particularly wanted to shoot in her home country, so we started from there. It was my first co-production with France, with producer Antoine Simkine following the project since the beginning, and Dutch co-producer Marleen Slot joining us for post-production. The film was shot in Lithuania (supported by the Lithuanian Film Center and Eurimages), and post-production took place in France. It was a challenging production, as we had a rather limited budget to fulfil all the visual expectations, though Alante managed to make the right choices and bring her artistic idea to the screen. She knew exactly all the details she needed to shoot and - backed up by cinematographer Dominique Colin - she managed to portray the beautiful journey of a teenage girl, which bagged her the Sundance Film Festival Best Director Award, a Berlin Panorama screening, six nominations for the Silver Crane Lithuanian Academy Awards and screenings at many other festivals.
What would your views be - both positive and negative - about contemporary Lithunanian cinema and being a producer based in the area?
In Lithuania, we have seen an increase in film productions in the last few years. The reason for this is that there are those films that receive governmental financing alongside a wave of commercial film production that is made with private funding. Also, there is an initiative being taken by the Lithuanian Film Centre to launch more film productions with smaller budgets. So the industry is increasing in terms of film productions; however, the financing of mid-size-budget films remains one of the lowest in the region, and there are a lot of discussions going on.
What do you think Lithuanian cinema needs to push it forward?
I think we really lack good scriptwriters in Lithuania. The generation who just finished scriptwriting studies are still growing up, and I hope there will be some new talents coming into the film industry. Also, in order to boost film production, it's not enough to have just one source of financing.
Tell us a little about your forthcoming projects.
Currently I'm working on pre-production for the film Emilia, to be directed by Donatas Ulvydas and set to be shot this summer and autumn. Set in Soviet-occupied Lithuania in the early 1970s, it tells a story about an aspiring young actress who pursues her career in a theatre, torn between her loyalty to the system and her dreams of freedom. I'm also co-producing the animated documentary film The Man Who Knew 75 Languages, directed by Anne Magnussen and Pawel Debski.
What do you hope to gain from being a Producer on the Move?
I feel it will be a nice mix of producers from all over Europe, and I hope to make a good connection with them for our future cooperation. It will be a very intense three days of pitching, discussions and case studies, and I hope to share our experience and to exchange ideas about production possibilities in our home countries. In the best-case scenario, I'll come back from this with a common project, but I'm realistic: things might even happen much later, thanks to the connections I'll make at the Producers on the Move event.