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Giedrė Žickytė • Produttrice, Moonmakers

“Quando vidi Gli uccelli, non avevo idea che la mia vita sarebbe stata collegata al cinema”


- La Producer on the Move lituana rievoca la sua carriera e rivela i progetti di lungometraggi documentari a cui sta attualmente lavorando

Giedrė Žickytė • Produttrice, Moonmakers

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

We caught up with Giedrė Žickytė, a director and producer at Lithuania’s Moonmakers. One of the selected Producers on the Move, a programme run by European Film Promotion, the filmmaker spoke about her love for cinema, her extensive work in the field of non-fiction and her company’s rich slate of projects.

Cineuropa: What pushed you to enter this industry?
Giedrė Žickytė:
It was the end of the 1980s, I was a child, and my country was starting to be led out of the Soviet Union. It was the time when videos and soap operas from behind the Iron Curtain reached us. And I remember at a family friend’s house, with my parents, I watched a film for the first time on VCR. It wasn’t Rambo or King Kong, but Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. That film had a profound impact on me; it was very scary and interesting at the same time. The images of the birds with their beaks, wings flapping powerfully, have stuck with me ever since. Of course, it was not only the film itself that made an impression at the time, but also the video cassettes and the tape recorder, as well as the strange voice of the man who used to do the Russian voice-overs for all of the foreign films.

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When I watched The Birds, I had no idea that my life would be connected with cinema. [...] But, who knows, maybe it was the first cinematic experience that planted a seed in my subconscious and gradually brought me closer to this industry.

What is the most challenging aspect of a producer’s job?
Well, I’ve mostly done documentaries for international festivals and distribution, and financing and distributing them is a constant challenge, especially when it comes to independent auteur films. It’s never easy. Also, it’s a collaborative medium, and everybody has their own opinions and visions, so as a producer, you have to deal with this. There are many obstacles to overcome, but I’ve realised that each film has its own journey, and you can come up with unexpected solutions if you’re not afraid to go the extra mile, and if you strongly believe in what you’re doing and fully embrace your project.

Which is the most rewarding aspect?
The secret of the cinematic miracle! My job gives me the opportunity to be a part of this secret by telling our own stories and learning about others. I’m meeting people from different cultures around the world, from Asia to Latin America. But what I find is that we all react more or less the same way to particular films, and although we take away different ideas, we also take away very similar emotions. This is the universality of the language of cinema – authentic experience evokes our deepest, most personal and, at the same time, universal common human experiences. 

How do you think being one of the Producers on the Move will benefit your career?
First of all, it’s a very well-organised and interesting programme. We will take part in many meetings and have the opportunity to make useful contacts. And in our industry, it’s all about the network! I am also very impressed with the fellow producers who have been selected for the programme, in terms of both their experience and their personalities. I hope that interesting partnerships can be forged.

What are your next projects going to be?
Our development slate, supported by Creative Europe – MEDIA and the Lithuanian Film Centre, includes Mindaugas Survila’s doc Yalla Yalla. It follows the migration centre of a small Lithuanian town near the Russian border – a former prison that was turned overnight into the biggest male migration centre after the influx of migrants orchestrated by Lukashenko’s hybrid war. The filmmaker is not only observing the evolution of the building, which suddenly becomes empty when the migrants flee to Western Europe; he also aims to film their dreams, travelling to their countries of origin, in an attempt to understand them better.

The second project is Double Self-portrait, which follows a talented, handsome and charismatic Lithuanian photographer who was adored by both women and men but who never fitted into the confines of Soviet life, forcing him to hide his true identity. In his forties, he was brutally murdered, the perpetrator was never found, and the case was closed. Thirty years later, director Aiste Stonyte embarks on a detective's journey both in Lithuania and the USA, delving into the enigmatic life and tragic double existence encoded in his photographs.

The third project, directed by myself, is going to be a hybrid documentary with animated elements. A few years ago, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I was in Moscow. Back then, a man came to the Lithuanian Embassy holding a small piece of luggage and without a passport, asking for help to return to his home country. He turned out to be a once-famous Lithuanian sports commentator, who mysteriously disappeared in Russia in the 1990s and was declared dead. Of course, as a filmmaker, I didn’t have any other choice but to grab my camera and follow the man’s journey and his “resurrection”, while delving into the mysterious and wild 1990s.

I’m also finishing off another film as a director, A Tale of Two Mothers. It reveals the inspiring story of professor Irena Veisaite, who was destined to die, but survived with honour and dignity, guided by the love and faith instilled in her by her two mothers – one lost to the Nazis, the other to the Soviet Gulag. It’s a co-production with Estonia’s Allfilm and Bulgaria’s Agitprop, backed by Eurimages, Creative Europe and national funds.

We’re also involved in a minority co-production, Scarecrows by famous Latvian director Laila Pakalnina. The film will be ready over the course of this year.

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