by Laurence Boyce
- Having produced one of Lithaunia's most visible films last year, Master and Tatyana, Lithuanian prouducer Dagnė Vildžiūnaitė is getting ready to be a Producer on the Move
Dagnė Vildžiūnaitė, of Lithuanian outfit Just A Moment, is seen as one of the shining lights of Lithuanian documentary filmmaking. Her latest film Master and Tatyana has been one of the most visible Lithuanian films on the festival circuit over the past year. As she gets ready to be a Producer on the Move, Cineuropa asked the prolific producer about her latest work and her numerous current projects.
Cineuropa: Tell us about how you got into making documentaries
Dagnė Vildžiūnaitė: It's all about meeting people. I met two different directors who wanted to make documentaries and were looking for someone who could produce them. They were both my friends so I thought “why not?”. That’s how I started producing work.
Can you let us know a little bit more about the last film you worked on, Master and Tatyana
It's a beautiful film. The film is about Lithuanian photographer Vitas Luckus (1943-1987), who is considered one the most influential artists of his time by his contemporaries, but he barely received any recognition during his lifetime. The Soviet authorities stood in the way of his exhibitions, even though he was the most successful commercial photographer in the region. And when he jumped to his death from his Vilnius apartment at the age of 43, he disappeared into oblivion. So it wasn't until after Lithuanian independence in 1990 that his photos, mostly taken during his long journey to all corners of the Soviet Union, were publicly exhibited. So it is a story about a rebellious genius of photography, his passionate love and another life destroyed by the Soviet system. It was already screened at many documentary film festivals, including DOK Leipzig FF and IDFA Best of Fests program.
What do you think of documentary scene in Lithuania at the moment? What is going well and what can be improved?
I’m very happy to see new names coming onto the scene. Five years ago it seemed all the young directors were only dreaming about the fiction world, but now it is changing. And it’s also good to see that we have not lost our very special poetic way of making documentaries despite other influences. What we are still lacking are more socially engaged filmmakers who are openly talking about the things they see.
What do you think that makes Lithuanian documentaries unique?
I would like to quote one of my main mentors, Tue Steen Müller, who constantly reviews Lithuanian docs on his blog: “They are mostly short and based on images - the Lithuanian documentarians compose the image and treat the spectator as an intelligent person. The information needed to understand a story or a problem or a complex thematic issue is conveyed by the combination of image and sound and montage. In other words, they make FILMS and are still relatively "innocent" when it comes to adapt to television standards.”
What projects are you currently working on?
I cannot believe it myself, but I currently have five active projects… Lina Luzyte’s debut feature, Together Forever is almost finished, and we are in the very last days of post-production. It’s the same situation for the debut mid-length documentary Dialogue with Joseph by Elzbieta Noemi Josade. We are shooting another debut feature, Breathing into Marble by Giedre Beinoriute. And I have two films in development/pre-production – a short documentary with the working title Energy Islandby Emilija Skarnulyte and Tomas Smilkis’ debut feature film People We Know Are Confused.
This year will see a Latvian, a Lithuanian and an Estonian as Producers on the Move. How important do you think it is for the Baltic film industries to collaborate and learn from each other?
It’s good to see that there are more and more co-productions between the three countries. Our film Breathing Into Marbleis also a co-production with Latvia. As I see our three film centres are constantly discussing and looking for the news ways of collaboration. And of course it all makes sense – we are perfect partners because of our similar development status both in our free economy and free cinema. In a way, we are always in competition but this competition really makes us follow and learn from each other because we are so close.
What do you hope to get out of Producers on the Move?
From all the attention I have to handle now I must admit I am already in the spotlight – so that's done! But what I’m really looking forward to is meeting new people and really having some time to spend with them at Cannes (something that is normally impossible there).