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FESTIVALS / AWARDS Lithuania

Scanorama emphasises the connection between Nordic and Baltic cultures

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- As every year, the Lithuanian gathering has actively honoured both film history and its future by blending retrospectives with contemporary flicks

Scanorama emphasises the connection between Nordic and Baltic cultures

The Taste of Things [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
by Trần Anh Hùng in Vilnius and The Mammoth Hunt by Aistė Stonytė in Kaunas opened the 21st edition of the European Film Forum Scanorama (9-19 November). Promising a diverse selection of films that transcend borders and genres, this 11-day annual celebration of cinema across four Lithuanian cities – Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and Šiauliai (with additional screenings in Alytus and Visaginas) – made Scanorama a remarkable event.  

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Emphasising the connection between Nordic and Baltic cultures, Scanorama (a contraction of "Scandinavian Panorama") strategically expands the pan-European context. The festival actively honours film history and its future by blending retrospectives with contemporary flicks – from Lars von Trier's Medea (1988) to Quentin Dupieux's Yannick [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
(2023) to The Rite (1969) by Ingmar Bergman

Collaborating with six film festivals in Europe dedicated to the continent's cinema, in 2017, Scanorama co-founded the Moving Images – Open Borders (MIOB) network. The network promotes the diverse artistic facets, regional characteristics and sociopolitical narratives of European cinema.

Both of the opening films featured wide-ranging artistic elements and sociopolitical accounts of European culture. The Mammoth Hunt by Aistė Stonytė searches for the mysteriously lost film recording, and the stories around it, of a play by renowned Lithuanian theatre director Jonas Jurašas. In The Taste of Things, meanwhile, Trần Anh Hùng attempts to convey the passions of fictional 19th-century gourmet Dodin Bouffant on screen. 

Scanorama in Vilnius opened with a lot of food served at a reception in the Forum Cinemas Vingis multiplex, followed by Tran's gastronomical treat. Adapting Marcel Rouff's 1920 novel The Passionate Epicure, the director engages the audience in a flavourful experience. Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel) is living in culinary paradise, tasting, inventing and reinventing toothsome meals with cook Eugenie (Juliette Binoche) – with whom he happens to be in love.

Dodin Bouffant's admiration of Eugenie comes from her exceptional kitchen skills. He's in love with her food more than the woman herself, so the director attempts to convey that feeling to the audience, exhibiting close-ups of tempting delights. Besides this sensory aspect, The Taste of Things is an exquisite story about love and loss. The picture is as delectable as the dishes displayed, making it a feast for cinema and cuisine enthusiasts alike.

The Mammoth Hunt tells the story of Jurašas, whose play of the same title was banned from stages in the late 1960s by the Soviet authorities. The movie features numerous important Lithuanian artists – from directors to actors to cinematographers – and overall presents a petrifying but ultimately joyful celebration of artistic resistance. At the Kaunas opening, one could spot many honourable and renowned Lithuanian artists from both the fields of cinema and theatre – and even the country's esteemed former president and "father of the nation", 91-year-old Vytautas Landsbergis.

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This article was written during the Moving Images – Open Borders (MIOB) 3rd LAB of Cultural, Creative and Festival Journalism

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