Cinema of Lithuania

The birth of Cinema of Lithuania dates back to 1909.[7]

Cinema of Lithuania
Romuva Cinema, the oldest still operational movie theater in Lithuania
No. of screens95 (2011)[1]
  Per capita3.4 per 100,000 (2011)[1]
Main distributorsAcme Filmai 46.0%
Forum Cinemas 45.0%
Incognito 5.0%[2]
Produced feature films (2017)[3]
Number of admissions (2017)[4]
  Per capita1,44
National films21,47%
Gross box office (2017)[5]
TotalEUR 20.4 million[6]


First Republic. 1918-1940

On July 28, 1896, Thomas Edison live photography session was held in the Concerts Hall of the Botanical Garden of Vilnius University. After a year, similar American movies were available with the addition of special phonograph records that also provided sound. In 1909, Lithuanian cinema pioneers Antanas Račiūnas and Ladislas Starevich released their first movies. Soon the Račiūnas' recordings of Lithuania's views became very popular among the Lithuanian Americans abroad. In 1925, Pranas Valuskis filmed movie Naktis Lietuvoje (Night in Lithuania) about Lithuanian book smugglers that left first bright Lithuanian footprint in Hollywood.

The first short films in 1909 where shot by Antanas Račiūnas who filmed the sights of his native village and Vladislav Starevich who made a short film Prie Nemuno (By the Nieman River, 1909)[8] The first Lithuanian newsreel screened in cinemas in 1921 was made by Feognijus Dunajevas.

The first film production companies and first films schools were founded in 1926. In 1927 a short film Rūpestingas tėvas was produced by Lietfilm. Lithuania's most important film directors during the era were Jurgis Linartas and Vladas Sipaitis. The Soldier Lithuania's Defender (1928) and a feature film Onytė ir Jonelis (1931) produced by a film company Akis, are the most notable films of the era.

Documentary movie chronicles were created by Stepas Uzdonas, Stasys Vainalavičius, Antanas Uibas, Alfonsas Žibas, Kazys Lukšys and others.

The most significant and mature Lithuanian American movie of the time Aukso žąsis (Golden goose) was created in 1965 by Birutė Pūkelevičiūtė that featured motifs from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

Period of Soviet occupation. 1940 - 1990

After the Soviet takeover in 1940 the Lithuanian Republican Newsreel Studio was founded, in 1962 it was renamed the Lithuanian Film Studio.

The first Soviet era feature film "Marytė" using Lithuanian composer and actors was produced by Mosfilm. Until 1956 all Lithuanian feature films were made in cooperation with other motion-picture studios in Soviet Union focusing on Communist themes.

After the death of Stalin in 1953 a more liberal period in Soviet Union's cultural policies followed. Filmmakers started to enjoy greater artistic control at the same time the Soviet State Committee for Cinematography (Goskino) in Moscow provided the money, state censorship body Glavlit and CPSU Department of Culture had the control over releasing the movies.[7]

In 1957, the post-Stalinist era Lithuanian feature film Žydrasis horizontas (The Blue Horizon) was directed by Vytautas Mikalauskas. In 1968 - Feelings (Lithuanian: Jausmai) a Lithuanian drama film was directed by Algirdas Dausa and Almantas Grikevičius. In 1997, spectators and critics recognized it the best film in Lithuania.

Film directors Gytis Lukšas, Henrikas Šablevičius, Arūnas Žebriūnas, Raimondas Vabalas were able to overcome the obstacles of censorship and create valuable films.

In the late 1980s an independent Lithuanian national cinema industry was reborn during Persestroika social and political reforms in the Soviet Union. The first independent film production studio Kinema was founded by the director Šarūnas Bartas in 1987. Another notable documentary filmmaker emerged during the era is Arūnas Matelis.

Due to Soviet occupation Jonas Mekas was forced to leave Lithuania. In New York he created Anthology Film Archives and together with his brother Adolfas Mekas, he founded Film Culture.

Second Republic. Since 1990 till present

After Lithuania regained independence on March 11, 1990 the state funding of filmmaking drastically decreased and smaller studios emerged instead. During the era about 10 documentaries and 2 feature films have been made yearly. The most notable directors have been Vytautas Žalakevičius, the director of Žvėris išeinantis is jūros (The Beast Emerging from the Sea) (1992), and Algimantas Puipa the winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Lübeck Nordic Film Days and the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Rouen Nordic Film Festival for Vilko dantų karoliai (A Wolf Teeth Necklace) (1997).

After the restoration of the independence, Šarūnas Bartas, Audrius Stonys, Arūnas Matelis, Audrius Juzėnas, Algimantas Puipa, Janina Lapinskaitė, Dijana and her husband Kornelijus Matuzevičius received success in international movie festivals.[9] A documentary film by Arūnas Matelis Wonderful Losers: A Different World has been shown in numerous film festivals in Europe and Asia and recognized with multiple awards.[10]

The most internationally known film director of Lithuanian descent born in Chicago, Illinois, United States is Robert Zemeckis[11]

In 2011 Vilnius Film Cluster was established. Vilnius Film Cluster is an alliance which unites 31 leading audiovisual company and one of the largest universities in Lithuania. Vilnius Film Cluster basis was used for Netflix anf HBO TV serials production.[12]

In January 2014 Lithuanian Film Tax Incentive came into effect as a new policy measure to foster local and foreign film production in Lithuania.[13] In 2016 the Lithuanian Film Centre issued 29 certificates representing a total of 1,850,646 EUR rebates.[14] The tax incentive was increased from 20% to 30% in 2019.[15]

Lithuanian film industry experiencing a renaissance over the last decade. The audience for Lithuanian films has reached 23% in 2015, compared with 2.48% in 2012.[16] 21 national films were premiered in 2018. In 2018, 54 new films of various lengths and genres were created, 28 of them were feature films most of them supported by the Lithuanian Film Centre.[17] In 2018, Lithuanian films had 27,9 percent of the domestic market share.[18]

Lithuania has hosted numerous major international productions in recent years, including HBO's Chernobyl, Catherine the Great, BBC's War and Peace, Netflix's Tokyo Trial, Young Wallander[19][20], TVNorge's The Oil Fund, Swedish TV series Hamilton[21], Danish film Erna i krig, a film by Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland Out Stealing Horses[22] and many more.[23]





Acclaimed Lithuanian films

Occupied Lithuania (1940–1990)

Title Translation Year Genre
Žydrasis horizontasThe Blue Horizon1957
Adomas nori būti žmogumiAdam Wants to Be a Man1959
Paskutinė atostogų dienaThe Girl and the Echo1964
Niekas nenorėjo mirtiNobody Wanted to Die1965historical drama
JausmaiFeelings1968historical drama
Kai aš mažas buvauWhen I Was a Child1968
GražuolėThe Beautiful Girl1969
Maža išpažintisA Small Confession1971
Herkus MantasHerkus Mantas1972historical drama
Velnio nuotakaDevil's Bride1973musical
Perskeltas dangusShattered Skies1974drama
Sadūto TūtoSadūto Tūto1974drama
Virto ąžuolaiThe Fall of Oak Trees1976drama
Mano vaikystės ruduoThe Autumn of My Childhood1977romantic drama
Riešutų duonaWalnut Bread1978tragicomedy
FaktasFact1981psychological thriller
Skrydis per AtlantąThe Flight Across the Atlantic1983historic documentary
Mano mažytė žmonaMy Little Wife1984romantic drama
Kažkas atsitikoSomething Has Happened1986music documentary
Amžinoji šviesaEternal Light1987drama
Neatmenu tavo veidoI Don't Remember Your Face1988

Lithuania (1990–present)

Title Translation Year Genre
Trys dienosThree Days1991
Vilko dantų karoliaiA Wolf Teeth Necklace 1997
Elzė iš GilijosElze's Life2000
Vienui vieniUtterly Alone2004historic drama
Prieš parskrendant į žemęBefore Flying Back to the Earth2005documentary
Dievų miškasForest of the Gods2005historic drama
Zero. Alyvinė LietuvaZero: Lilac Lithuania2006action comedy
AnastasijaAnastasia2006historic drama
Aš esu tuYou Am I2006romantic drama
Nuodėmės užkalbėjimasWhisper of Sin2007romantic drama
Nereikalingi žmonėsLoss2008psychological thriller
Zero IIZero II2010action comedy
Atsisveikinimas (laimingo žmogaus istorija)Farewell2010drama
Tadas Blinda. PradžiaTadas Blinda: The Beginning2011action and adventure
Mes už... Lietuvą!We're for... Lithuania!2011documentary
AuroraAurora2011fantasy drama
Kita svajonių komandaThe Other Dream Team2012documentary
Kaip pavogti žmonąHow to Steal a Wife2013comedy
Redirected. Už LietuvąRedirected2014action comedy

See also


  1. "Table 8: Cinema Infrastructure - Capacity". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  2. "Table 6: Share of Top 3 distributors (Excel)". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  3. "Statistika". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  4. "Faktai ir statistika". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  5. "Table 11: Exhibition - Admissions & Gross Box Office (GBO)". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  6. "2017 m. filmų rodymo ataskaitos". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  7. Culture And Customs of the Baltic States By Kevin O'Connor
  8. DATA CONCERNING THE HISTORY OF LITHUANIAN CINEMA Archived 2008-09-18 at the Wayback Machine
  9. "Kino Lietuvoje istorija". Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  10. "Oct. 20, NYC Premiere 'Wonderful Losers: A Different World' by DGA Documentary Winner Arunas Matelis". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  11. Robert Zemeckis @ enertainmentmagazine Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Kino klasterio kompleksinės paslaugos padeda laimėti didelius užsakymus". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  13. "Film Tax Incentive". Retrieved 26 December 2018. Lithuanian Film Tax Incentive came into effect in January 2014 as a new policy measure to foster local and foreign film production in Lithuania. It offers an opportunity to save up to 20% of the film production budget through private investment scheme. Since the introduction of the incentive there has been a rapid growth in the number of foreign film productions.
  14. Kancerevičiūtė, Auksė. "LITHUANIA: Country Report 2016". Retrieved 26 December 2018. In 2016 the Lithuanian Film Centre issued 29 certificates representing a total of 1,850,646 EUR rebates. A total of 22 films used the incentives scheme: six national films, six coproductions and ten international. All of them spent more than 9 m EUR in Lithuania in 2016.
  15. "Lithuanian tax incentives for film production successfully raised to 30%". Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  16. "Lithuania's Film Renaissance". Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  17. "2018 was marked as the best year for Lithuanian cinema market after the restoration of independence". Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  18. "Rudens kino ekranuose – aštuoni lietuviški filmai". Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  19. "Netflix Original Series Young Wallander Filming in Lithuania". Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  20. "Netflix's Young Wallander started filming in Seskine". Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  21. Kancerevičiūtė, Auksė. "Swedish TV Series Hamilton Shoots in Lithuania". Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  22. "Norway's Hans Petter Moland on his Berlinale contender 'Out Stealing Horses'". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  23. "Lithuanian tax incentives for film production successfully raised to 30%". Retrieved 18 May 2019.

Further reading

  • Lithuanian Cinema: Special Edition for Lithuanian Film Days in Poland 2015, Auksė Kancerevičiūtė [ed.]. Vilnius: Lithuanian Film Centre, 2015. ISBN 6099574409.
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