VILNIUS - The only existing alternative-type movie theater in the capital, Cinema Lietuva is making a name for itself. Although scheduled to close down this summer, the theater is marching toward that distant light in the sky with bravado. In the dwindling span of time it has left, Lietuva will play a selection of short films from the Oberhausen collection, as well as some prominent British pieces in the festival "We're British, Butâ€¦"
On May 12, Cinema Lietuva will show contestants from the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, which is one of the oldest and most renowned film festivals in the world. The ninety-minute program includes works honored in the Oberhausen festival over the past few years. One of the highlights is sure to be "Wasp" by young British director Andrea Arnold. The film was not only awarded five prizes in Oberhausen, but it also received an Oscar this year. "Wasp" tells the story of a single woman with four children and their struggles against poverty. Its uniqueness comes within the plot; the woman suddenly meets God and her life changes in an unexpected way.
Another item on this gourmet menu is the documentary "Three Poems by Spoon Jackson," directed by Sweden's Michel Wenzer. It's a true story about a man who spent 25 years in prison, which gracefully captures his feelings when finally released.
A week later, on May 20 and 21, Lietuva will run two other short film programs in the British festival "We're British, Butâ€¦"
The selection of films reflects Britain's cultural diversity, commenting on how the country learns to adapt to a wide ethnic spectrum. At the same time, the film covers the way immigrants find their place within an environment that's so very often completely foreign to them. Alluding to an early work by acclaimed filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, "I'm British But" (1989), this selection of 12 short films allows a handful of new directors to add their voices to this ongoing social discussion.
Some of the program's gems include "One Plus One" by George Amponsah. The filmmaker and his twin brother discuss issues of identity for black British people. A visit to Ghana, their ancestral home, provokes thoughts about belonging, aspirations, ambitions, and expectations. One can't leave the movie without puzzling over what really makes-up cultural identity - or individual identity, for that matter.
In "Wish," director Rene Mohandas tells the unusual love story of a young Glaswegian man and an elderly Japanese lady. From their mundane council-estate lives blossoms an inspirational exchange of past experience, culture and romance. Their story crosses the boundaries of time, place, and generation, while stretching the most creative imagination..
Another documentary in the selection is "Hong Kong, Liverpool, Penzance" by Raymond Wong. This movie is a biography dedicated to the filmmakers' parents, covering their arranged marriage and subsequent life in 1960's Britain.
Lots of other must-sees will be featuring in Lietuva, so don't forget to dedicate your short attention span to the festival's short-film program. It's the last you'll see of the theater, and the last the theater will see of you.