Vilnius International Short Film Festival kicks off its 16th edition: programmers’ recommendations

News 2023-01-18

Vilnius International Short Film Festival, the biggest short film event in the Baltics, kicks off today in its 16th edition. On 18–24 January, film lovers will be treated to a true celebration of cinema and unexpected discoveries in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and Šiauliai cinemas and also on VOD platform. The repertoire includes over 80 carefully selected short films from all over the world, divided into 19 programmes by genre, theme or mood. 

“We are delighted to once again open the new year’s film season with our festival and, as every year, we are looking forward to getting back to cinemas, meeting the viewers and enjoying the after-screening hustle and bustle. This year we present 19 short film programmes that have been carefully and meticulously curated over many months, and we believe that every spectator will find his or her favourite,” says Rimantė Daugėlaitė-Cegelskienė, Head of Vilnius International Short Film Festival.

As always, the competition programmes will be assessed by an international jury, which will announce the best films in both International and National Competition and select the Grand Prix winner.

This year’s jury includes South Korean film curator and festival programmer Sanghoon Lee, Lithuanian cinematographer Laura Aliukonytė, and Moldovan filmmaker Olga Lucovnicova.


Must-see films: festival programmers recommend

Everyone is bound to discover their own favourite in the Vilnius Short Film Festival programme. In addition to the latest short films competing in the International and National Competitions, this year’s edition includes a number of special programmes: a review of the recent trends in South Korean short film, Korean Cinema: New Perspectives; science fiction programme Other Realities, curated by filmmaker Jonas Trukanas; contemporary Lithuanian film and video programme Whispering Loudly, curated by contemporary artist Deimantas Narkevičius; five-hour-long Short Film Night; Ukrainian family animation Animated World for Kids; Lithuanian film programme All’s Well That Ends, curated by senior citizens, Protest programme by young programmers from Meno Avilys; films by upcoming European filmmakers in European Stories; finally, a selection of the best Competition films announced at the festival awards ceremony.

To shed some guiding light on the diverse repertoire and varied topics – from love or friendship to memory or power – here are some personal recommendations from the Competition programmers:

Andrius Blaževičius, film director, screenwriter and educator:

Balls, dir. Gorana Jovanovic, Serbia, Slovenia (International Competition Programme “Rules of a Tribe”)

A subtle documentary on the relationship between nations with a not-so-pleasant history.

Horticulture, dir. Ćapin Silva, Kroatia (International Competition Programme “Head-on”)

I like seeing anti-heroes and this film has two of them. A highly uncomfortable film in the very best way.

The Cormorant, dir. Lubna Playoust, France (International Competition Programme “Scenes from a Family”)

A film that shows what a complicated thing motherhood is.

Sh, dir. Julius Stakišaitis, Lithuania (National Competition II)

It is the shortest film of the festival. A perfect short film specimen.

Romance, dir. Álvaro de Miguel, Spain (International Competition Programme “In Search of Closeness)

Romance shows an awful attempt to pick up a girl. It is a film about the importance of knowing the limits.


Monika Gimbutaitė, film critic, curator and publisher:

Handbook, dir. Pavel Mozhar, Germany, Belarus (International Competition Programme “Head-on”)

Belarus, 2020. As we hear off-screen accounts by people detained by OMON, torture and humiliation practices are being reconstructed in an empty room in an emphatically unemotional, almost procedural – and therefore chillingly powerful – testimony to how the repressive system in Belarus works.

Tell Me You Love Me, dir. Elena Rožukaitė, Lithuania (National Competition I)

I enjoy realistic quarrels in films, when instead of discussing what hurts, people fight about the absence of milk in a fridge. Tell Me You Love Me has great quarrel scenes: a conflict suddenly explodes in all its absurdity and slowly accumulated sadness and you just look at it and can’t help feeling it sting.

Starfuckers, dir. Antonio Marziale, USA (International Competition Programme “Rules of a Tribe”)

This year’s gem of a short film. An erotic queer thriller, a kick at Hollywood, a vengeance bravado with a fantastic, memorable finale that ultimately fills the blanks.

How Do You Measure a Year?, dir. Jay Rosenblatt, USA (International Competition Programme “Scenes from a Family”)

This film is the director’s love letter to his daughter, a childhood portrait, an ode to simplicity. One of the brightest films in this year’s festival, a reminder of how powerful, imperfect and beautiful can a relationship between two people be.

Marblehead, dir. Kevin Walker, Jack Auen, USA (International Competition Programme “Skyscopes”)

Films like Marblehead are what I look forward the most each year – something unexpected, hard-to-define, beyond category, breaking the rules of dramaturgy, and, as a rule, seen at a small festival. Those are the most cherished discoveries.


Ieva Šukytė, film critic, journalist:

Tank Fairy, dir. Erich Rettstadt, Taiwan, USA (International Competition Programme “Rules of a Tribe”)

If you had a godmother Tank Fairy, what would you ask her? One of the craziest and fun films of the festival.

Goodbye, Jerome!, dir. Adam Sillard, Gabrielle Selnet, Chloé Farr, France (International Competition Programme “In Search of Closeness”)

A vibrant and sadly comical animated film about tough luck in love, even after death.

Bergie, dir. Dian Weys, South Africa (International Competition Programme “Dangerus Stretch”)

The film is 7 minutes long yet it shows how merciless can society be.

Will You Look at Me?, dir. Shuli Huang (International Competition Programme “Rules of a Tribe”)

Moving conversations by the filmmaker with his mother. He longs for love and acceptance but she, raised in a different generation, finds it rather difficult.

Sierra, dir. Sander Joon, Estonia (International Competition Programme “Scenes from a Family”)

Some people bond with their parents through fishing, others through car racing. I think this is a film that will make everyone smile.

Many of the above films will be shown not only in the programmes listed next to the titles but also as part of one of the most popular events of the festival, the Short Film Night, which will invite viewers to test their stamina with a short film all-nighter. A 5-hour–programme consisting of 20 films from all over the world will be presented at exclusive screenings inVilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and Šiauliai on 20th January only.

Vilnius International Short Film Festival is ready to showcase the most exciting short films from recent years and complement the filmgoing experience with meetings with filmmakers as well as special events. 

Information, tickets and full programme: 

Major sponsor: Lithuanian Film Centre. Institutional partners: Vilnius City Municipality, Audiovisual works copyright association “AVAKA”, Lithuanian Culture Institute, LATGA Association, Creative Europe Desk Lithuania MEDIA Office. Media partner: LRT. The festival is part of the 700th anniversary of Vilnius programme. The festival is organised by the Lithuanian short film agency Lithuanian Shorts.