Lithuanians are creating a new feature film called Isaac that talks about the Holocaust in Lithuania, the guilt of murder and the daily life of people in Lithuania occupied by the Soviets. The film has already received different feedbacks in the society from strong support to the claims for betraying the country.
Stasys Baltakis, the producer of the film, tells Isaac is a great chance to face sad and shameful facts of our history, consider our identity as a nation and discover the ways to build a better society especially when the country celebrates it’s 100th anniversary of restored Lithuania.
About 90 percent of the Jewish population of Lithuania was murdered during the Holocaust. In the past few years discussions on the Holocaust took a new approach and local citizens of do gain more and more understanding in what was done. However, producer Baltakis says that Lithuanians still lack a constructive dialogue and honest recognition of their history.
“One of the aims of the film is to provoke more discussions and clear perception how the history of XX century had an impact to the identity of our nation and the country. Also, we want the film to be a symbolic memorial and a gratitude for every person who helped Jews in this dark hour. This especially goes to about a thousand Lithuanians who were named Righteous among the Nations and helped to survive Jewish people during the Holocaust risking their own lives“. Producer admits that the film and the crew received not only positive feedback but also some criticism and even accusations on betraying the country.
A publicity still from the film.
Social activist and one of the strongest supporters of the film Lithuanian Jew Daniel Lupshitz reminds that first of all there are needs to clarify the understanding that there is no separation like ‘we and they’ talking about the Holocaust in Lithuania. “The Jewish were the same citizens of the country like Lithuanians. It is a common history and tragedy to all of us“.
Isaac is a feature film with a psychological drama and the suspense of a thriller. It is based on a short story written by famous Lithuanian – American writer Antanas Skema and directed by a young and talented Lithuanian filmmaker Jurgis Matulevicius. The film and the storyline are focused on the dramatic historic period of Lithuania, Europe that beholds Holocaust and Soviet dominance in the country. The film starts in 1941 with Lietukis garage massacre in Kaunas, Lithuania.
The main film character Andrius Gluosnis kills a Jew Isaac. Years later in Soviet Lithuania Gluosnis’ friend movie director Gutauskas returns from the USA with a screenplay for a film. The script portrays the garage massacre in great details. His screenplay is taken as evidence in an investigation launched by KGB. Gluosnis becomes obsessed with the images of the past, which only increase his feeling of guilt.
Director of the film Jurgis Matulevičius says the story of Isaac covers not only the Holocaust but the relations between people. “Film discusses themes of friendship, love, regret and self-liberation in the difficult historical context of Lithuania“.
“When I and the screenwriter Saulė Bliuvaitė were writing the script, we sought to truly understand that period of history and existence of people at that time – it was interesting how people lived their daily life. Moreover it was a chance to better understand our parents, grandparents and the whole of our society the way they are nowadays. Ideas that we are talking about in the film are of a crucial important evermore because first of all the film talks about people and their never-ending fight with their selfs and the society“, said the filmmaker.
A publicity still from the film.
The shooting alone took more than two years and a whole process demanded a participation of about thousand people in it. Well know Lithuanian actors Severija Janušauskaitė, Dainius Gavenonis and Aleksas Kazanavičius have leading roles of the film. Isaac film was already invited to participate in Film Market in the Cannes film festival and will be completely finished by the early autumn of this year, then it begins its journey through international film festivals around the world including.
Film is entering a postproduction phase and for to be finished it still needs more funds, so filmmakers ask filmgoers to believe their story and support the film on Indiegogo crowd funding platform: https://igg.me/at/filmisaac.
Vilnius, Lithuania, July 5, 2018
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