Vilnius Short Film Festival announces International Competition for 2023 edition

News 2022-12-20

Lithuania based short film festival will showcase films from 25 countries.

The 16th edition of the Vilnius Short Film Festival, which will take place between 18-24 January 2023, will bring together 30 diverse short films that push the boundaries of cinema from 25 countries to compete across six diverse International Competition programmes.

The International Competition programmes include works by world-renowned directors alongside filmmakers that Vilnius ISFF will allow audiences to discover during the festival. These filmmakers and their films will appeal to both die-hard cinephiles as well as casual fans looking to widen their knowledge of what the cinematic world can offer.

Each of the festival’s six International Competition programmes will feature films that work together thematically and aesthetically. 

The first programme is “Scenes from a Family” that explores parent-child relationships, which – as many of us know – are seldom perfect. The four films in the programme will offer a whole spectrum of emotions and themes as they explore ideas from unconditional love, gentleness and playfulness to sadness and humor.

The second programme “Dangerous Stretch” will explore different parts of the world and – as we span Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe – we will notice that humanity has to deal with difficulties no matter what part of the world in which we live. The protagonists of these films find themselves in physically and emotionally dangerous zones, where they are confronted with inner and historical demons, indifference and wars.

The programme “In Search of Closeness” explores the human need for community. Everybody needs somebody – as the famous song once went – but what happens when we’re frightened, scared or sick of those we are meant to be close to? Five films will speak about how difficult, awkward and funny the search for closeness can actually be.

The programme “Skyscopes” features 5 films that invite us on a stroll through the recesses of memory: from deeply buried personal reminiscences to the complex pages of history and mnemonic rituals. But can we always trust our memory? Which pasts have we actually lived, and which are just a figment of our imagination? These questions, and many others, will be explored by the films in this competition

We all belong to one or another tribe whose unwritten rules are ingrained in our blood. But what happens when these rules start to raise more questions than answers? How does one cope when it is increasingly difficult to fit in in a patriarchal, traditional society? The fifth International Competition programme “Rules of a Tribe” offers a number of alternative scenarios: one can confront or hide their true identity yet sometimes it is simply necessary to break the rules. 

The sixth programme “Head-on” focuses on inevitable conflicts, from funny spats with neighbors to protests for the freedom and democracy of a country. Revisited images from the past begin to tell a completely different narrative. A room in a Berlin flat becomes a torture cell for anti-Lukashenko protesters, where a re-enactment of events reveals a systemic crackdown on innocent people. A dance of death for freedom, a forest fire and wilted flowers in a garden that turn out to be not so easy to forgive. 

This year, Vilnius ISFF programming team consists of senior programmers – film director, screenwriter and educator Andrius Blaževičius, film critic and curator, publisher Monika Gimbutaitė, film critic and journalist Ieva Šukytė, and programming assistants – film director, journalist Jorė Janavičiūtė, scriptwriter and film director Benita Paplauskaitė, scriptwriter Jonas Rokas.

The festival jury will consist of film industry experts from South Korea, Lithuania and Moldova

Alongside the audience, the International Competition films will be viewed by a jury of industry experts. It consists of South Korean curator and festival programmer Sanghoon Lee, Lithuanian cinematographer Laura Aliukonytė and Moldovan director Olga Lucovnicova.

Sanghoon Lee has worked as a curator for the Busan International Short Film Festival since 2011 and was appointed its Senior Programmer in 2018. In 2006-2008, he worked as Chief Programmer at the Korean Film Festival in Paris. Sanghoon Lee holds a PhD in Literature and teaches at Chonnam National University, South Korea, specializing in film and French culture.

Laura Aliukonytė studied cinematography at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. She currently works in film and advertising, both locally and abroad. She is a member of the Lithuanian Association of Cinematographers. In the summer of 2022, Laura finished shooting her second feature film with director Justinas Krisiūnas.

The third jury member is Olga Lucovnicova, a documentary filmmaker born in Moldova and based in Belgium. Her latest film, My Uncle Tudor, was screened at more than 50 festivals around the world and won 35 awards, including Golden Bear at the Berlinale, the European Film Academy Award, Best Short Film at the 62nd Festival dei Popoli, Best Director at Astra Film Festival, Big Stamp at ZagrebDox, as well as Grand Prix at Vilnius International Short Film Festival, among others. Olga is currently pursuing a PhD in Media Studies at KU Leuven in Belgium.


The full list of International Competition titles is:

  1. At Little Wheelie 3 Days Ago, dir. Andrew Stephen Lee, USA, fiction;
  2. Balls, dir. Gorana Jovanovic, Serbia/Slovenia, documentary;
  3. Bergie, dir. Dian Weys, South African Republic, fiction;
  4. Bestia, dir. Hugo Covarrubias, Chile, animation;
  5. Bird in the Peninsula, dir. Atsushi Wada, France/Japan, animation;
  6. By Flávio, dir. Pedro Cabeleira, Portugal/France, fiction;
  7. Deerwoods Deathtrap, dir. James P. Gannon, USA, documentary;
  8. Fire at the Lake, dir. Pierre Menahem, France, fiction;
  9. Garrano, dir. David Doutel, Vasco Sá, Portugal/Lithuania, animation;
  10. Goodbye Jerome!, dir. Adam Sillard, Gabrielle Selnet, Chloé Farr, France, animation;
  11. Handbook, dir. Pavel Mozhar, Germany/Belarus, documentary;
  12. Horticulture, dir. Ćapin Silva, Croatia, fiction.
  13. How Do You Measure a Year?, dir. Jay Rosenblatt, USA, documentary;
  14. Liturgy of Anti-tank Obstacles, dir. Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk, Ukraine/USA, documentary;
  15. Marblehead, dir. Kevin Walker, Jack Auen, USA, fiction;
  16. Memories from the Eastern Front, dir. Radu Jude, Adrian Cioflâncă, Romania, documentary;
  17. Moune Ô, dir. Maxime Jean-Baptiste, Belgium/France/Republic of Guinea, documentary/experimental;
  18. Murder Tongue, dir. Ali Sohail Jaura, Pakistan, fiction;
  19. Noir Soleil, dir. Marie Larrivé, France, animation;
  20. Romance, dir. Álvaro de Miguel, Spain, fiction;
  21. Sierra, dir. Sander Joon, Estonia, animation;
  22. Staging Death, dir. Jan Soldat, Austria/Germany, experimental;
  23. Starfuckers, dir. Antonio Marziale, USA, fiction;
  24. Tank Fairy, dir. Erich Rettstadt, Taiwan/USA, fiction;
  25. The Blanket, dir. Teppo Airaksinen, Finland, fiction;
  26. The Cormorant, dir. Lubna Playoust, France, fiction;
  27. The Earth is Spinning, dir. Olena Kyrychenko, Ukraine, documentary;
  28. The Seine’s Tears, dir. Yanis Belaid, Eliott Benard, Nicolas Mayeur, Étienne Moulin, Hadrien Pinot, Lisa Vicente, Philippine Singer, Alice Letailleur, France, animation;
  29. Time Flows in Strange Ways on Sundays, dir. Giselle Lin, Singapore, fiction;
  30. Will You Look at Me, dir. Shuli Huang, China, documentary;

For updates on the festival’s programme see: 

The Festival’s main sponsor is the Lithuanian Film Centre. Institutional partners: Vilnius City Municipality, Audiovisual works copyright association AVAKA, the Lithuanian Culture Institute, Creative Europe Media desk in Lithuania. Festival information partner is LRT. The festival is a part of the Vilnius 700th Anniversary programme.