Ad-men satire enthralls Lithuania

  • 2006-02-08
  • By Milda Seputyte
VILNIUS - You won't find the word "diringas," which serves as the one-word title of a major new film, in any Lithuanian dictionary. New homegrown movies are commonplace in other countries, but in Lithuania they have the force of a huge cultural event. "Diringas" is no exception.

I went to see "Diringas" on a night when the temperature hit minus 20 degrees Celsius. If it wasn't for this assignment, you'd have seen me tucked under a warm blanket with a good book. So, it was rather impressive to see the theater packed with people who were there out of a sense of pleasure not duty.

On top of the itch to find out what this new neologism "diring" means, people wondered what revolution director Ignas Miskinis was igniting with his baby. In a manifesto Miskinis co-wrote with six other young filmmakers on the website, he made his position on the Lithuanian film industry plain: Stop whining about meager funding, about the lack of support, about the crisis in the national film industry. It's time to change and it is possible to do so even in these circumstances.

The seven film directors promised to release 10 new films that represent their generation in just three years. "Diringas" is the first.

Miskinis, 28, one of the most acclaimed young film directors in Lithuania, first appeared on the scene with his very successful short film, "Easily and Sweetly", a couple of years ago.

Previously, he made his living directing commercials for an advertising company, an atmosphere that serves as the milieu for his first film, "Diringas."

In the film, two rival advertising companies receive an offer of unheard-of profits to create an advertising campaign for a product called "Diringas." The catch: Neither company knows what "Diringas" is.

Agency Perpetuum Bella gets a strange order from mysterious clients. The company's head, Laimonas, has no clue what he's supposed to sell, but the profits are too tempting to resist. "Diringas isn't just a brand, it's a superbrand," says Laimonas, but that's all he has to say. When Laimonas meets Yura, a man who seems to have some idea what "Diringas" may be, he thinks he's found an answer and a perfect man for an ad.

Just wait for the surprise ending.

The comedy serves as a poignant and ironic portrait of modern society, where the exaggerated importance of image has idiotic effects on people. Commercials tend to throw meaningless concepts that sound like the essences of truth right at you all the time.

The film accurately captures so-called advertising "professionals" many of whom blab just for the sake of blabbing, for the sake of selling "the idea" to their clients, not quite understanding what it's all about in first place.

It's funny, it's intriguing, and…Did I say it was funny? The actors are having an absolute blast while developing their caricatures. There's the director of rival company Diana, whose outfits seem to be borrowed from a hooker and is the son of Laimonas Mantas, whose pseudo-language involves only an airport English vocabulary. Then there's Laimonas' assistant Baslys, who is one hell of a gofer.

Still I wonder if "Diringas" would have made a better short film. What we have now is draft material: some scenes are clearly unnecessary or too long, waiting to be cut out in the editor's room. This also affects the narrative which lacks development and a clear structure.

Given the short period of film production (six months), and its incredibly low budget (300,000 litas), one can't expect a masterpiece, but the film could have used a few more careful touch-ups from its director.