Vilnius Short Film Festival unveils the National Competition

News 2023-12-19

In less than a month, on 17-23 January, Vilnius Short Film Festival will invite short film enthusiasts to cinemas and home screens for the 17th time. Audiences will be treated to over a hundred films, conveniently divided by themes and genres into two National Competition programmes, six International Competition programmes and thirteen special programmes. Having recently unveiled a renewed identity aimed at better accessibility of cinema, the Festival now presents the films in the National Competition, all to be screened with special subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH). In addition, audio description for the visually impaired will be provided for the screenings in Vilnius.

Over the past 17 years, Vilnius Short Film Festival has established itself as the biggest Lithuanian event presenting exclusively short films, as well as the one to open the film festival season. Like every year, the National Competition for the best Lithuanian short film attracts great interest from the public.

“The National Competition is one of the key pillars of the festival, revealing not only the latest film trends and topics, but most importantly, introducing audiences to a new generation of filmmakers. We are delighted to include in the Festival’s programme not only emerging film talents, but also internationally acclaimed filmmakers who are making Lithuania’s name known in the world,” says Gabrielė Cegialytė, the Festival’s Managing Director.

Mantė Valiūnaitė, one of the Festival’s programmers, film critic and film curator, says: “There were over 50 submissions for the National Competition, which made the selection process really tough. The key criteria we set were completeness and ability to explore a chosen subject in a short form. It was also important for us to present a diversity of films, so that fiction, documentary and animation were well represented in the programme. I believe the result is a great showcase of today’s young Lithuanian cinema.”

What do Lithuanian filmmakers want to talk about in their short films?

A total of 11 films that are to compete for the best Lithuanian film title in January have been divided into two National Competition programmes. This year’s selection oozes with vibrant, diverse emotions as the majority of filmmakers have focused on the world of feelings. 

According to Andrius Blaževičius, one of the Festival’s competition programmers, film director, screenwriter and educator, the common denominator of the films in the National Competition Programme I could be the cold. “In all the films, the characters are confronted with cold, literally or figuratively – whether it’s the freezing Siberian climate, a harsh Vilnius night, the indifference of the system, or the experience of being an emigrant,” says Andrius.

The programme starts with The Trip by Rimantas Oičenka, inviting us on a 1975 boat trip from Klaipėda port. In Arrested by Indrė Juškutė, we are going to spend a night in jail with a detained young woman while -15 by Rinaldas Tomaševičius depicts Alexey’s probationary period out of prison and tricky situations in night Vilnius. Next is Purga by a duo of Gintarė Valevičiūtė-Brazauskienė and Antanas Skučas, which tells the story of deported people struggling to survive by the Laptev Sea in 1942, androunding up with Hubble’s Law by Arnas Balčiūnas, the story of a mute guy struggling to fit in at a construction site.

Genuine and engaging looks at relationships

The National Competition Programme II will address the ever-important topic of relationships. One of the Competition programmers, Mantė Valiūnaitė says: “Relationships are a regular theme in films, but it takes a lot of courage to speak about them genuinely, to reflect and step away from one’s personal experience towards universal themes. Lithuanian filmmakers are tackling this task through different types of cinema: animation, fiction, documentary and experimental films in this programme explore dealing with parents, saying goodbye to a dear friend, and the relationship with oneself.”

In Skirmanta Jakaitė’s animation Way Better, we join an anxious man waiting for his test results; in Milda Augustaitytė’s Number One, we follow a boy in the preparation for a dance competition; in Severina Vaičiūnaitė’s When I Was a Juvenile, we witness an array of feelings as Sofija returns to her abandoned childhood home; experimental Dear Dad by Austė Urbanavičiūtė raises the question of how to integrate difficult childhood experiences into adult life; and Vilma Razmutė’s In a Bubble travels to a future after climate disasters, where artificial intelligence interacts and works with people. The programme concludes with Cherries by Vytautas Katkus, a participant of the last year’s short film competition at Cannes Film Festival, with its subtle father-son story that has touched a multitude of viewers and international juries alike. 

The films for the National Competition have been selected by film curator and scholar Mantė Valiūnaitė, director, writer and educator Andrius Blaževičius, and film critic and journalist Ieva Šukytė. Vilnius Short Film Festival will soon reveal even more programmes that present the wild, unbelievable and heartmelting world of short films.

All films in the 17th edition of Vilnius Short Film Festival will be shown on 17-23 January 2024 in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and Šiauliai cinemas and on Žmonės Cinema cinema platform.

More info and updated programme at:

The festival is organised by the Lithuanian short film agency Lithuanian Shorts. Festival is partly funded by the Lithuanian Film Centre, EU programme Creative Europe MEDIA, Audiovisual works copyright association AVAKA. Institutional partners: Vilnius City Municipality, Šiauliai City Municipality, EU Creative Europe MEDIA Desk in Lithuania, LATGA Association. Main media partner: LRT Epika.