VILNIUS - Olgertas Kvedaravicius, the father of Lithuanian film maker Mantas Kvedaravicius, one of the winners of this year's Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts, hopes that his son's films will be a light for those who are still indifferent to the atrocities of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
"Of course we are happy, and we think that our son would have been happy to be recognized this way. Perhaps we didn’t even appreciate our own child this way. We are very happy," Kvedaravicius told BNS on Monday following the announcement of the winners, struggling to hold back his tears.
"I talk to a lot of people, and they say maybe someone will see the light, maybe they will see it abroad. After all, we follow the news about how many Ukrainians are being killed, while the old Europe has its own goals. We see what Macron is saying, what Scholz is saying, and others, who only want political ratings and not looking at the Ukrainians. Maybe in the eyes of the whole world, Mantas' film will show how it really is, maybe it will shed some light," he said.
Kvedaravicius, 45, was killed last spring in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol as it was being savaged by Russia. Mariupol 2, the sequel to his earlier film shot there at the start of the war, was named the best European documentary of the year over the weekend.
Raised in Lithuania's northern city of Birzai, Kvedaravicius received a degree in archaeology from Vilnius University, and continued his studies in the United States before moving to the United Kingdom where he received a Master's degree in social and cultural anthropology from the University of Oxford, and a PhD in social anthropology from Cambridge University.
His father said cinema was his son's whole life. After defending his thesis at Cambridge University, Mantas had the opportunity to stay there and continue teaching.
"But he said: "I'm attracted to other things," his father said, adding that his son would not tell him about his trips to Ukraine.
"Only his sister and others knew, but he spared us as he didn't want to worry us. He would be unreachable, and we were waiting for him," he said. "It's too high a price. But this is not what he was rewarded for. I think it was for his work."
Kvedaravicius made the award-winning 2011 documentary Barzakh about war-torn Chechnya and its constantly disappearing people. In 2016, his film Mariupol was selected for the Berlin Film Festival.
In 2019, his first feature film Parthenon was selected for the Venice Film Festival's Critics' Week Competition.
Kvedaravicius won the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts for his fearless documentary and his distinctive mark on Lithuanian and global cinema.
The Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prizes recognize the most significant works of culture and art that were created by creators in Lithuania or by the expatriate community over the last 7 years as well as their lifelong work.
Awarded annually since 1989, the prizes honor significant culture and arts achievements by Lithuanian and expatriate creators in the last seven years, as well as their lifelong work.
This year's winners will receive over 36,000 euros each.
They will be presented with the diplomas and insignia on the Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania on February 16, 2023.