At the upcoming 77th Cannes Film Festival, the achievements of Lithuanian filmmakers will be showcased as well. The film “Ootid” by young director Eglė Razumaitė (produced by Lineta Lasiauskaitė) has been selected for the main competitive short film program. The film selected from more than 4 thousand films will compete for the prestigious “Short Film Palme d’Or” prize. As the world premiere approaches, the film’s director and producer talk about the film’s idea and about what impressed the international panel, the awards, and the young cinema generation.

The premiere of “Ootid” at the Cannes Film Festival is fast approaching. How do you feel? What is going through your mind right now?

Eglė: The festival was a big surprise for us. Suddenly, there was this urgent need to raise a lot of funds and, of course, to prepare for the picture’s departure to the festival. By the way, both Lineta and I are graduating this year, and we need to study for our exams, so the timing is very tense.

Lineta: All attention is focused on how to present the film “OOtid” at the Cannes Film Festival in the best possible way. Almost every day, the organizers send us letters asking for certain information to be provided within a few days. Posters, subtitling, and distribution also need to be taken care of. I have probably already written to all Lithuanians living on the Cote d’Azur, because the budget required for the presentation of the film is a major source of stress right now.

Is this your first joint project? What is the relationship between the two of you?

Lineta: “OOtid” was our first joint project and a great start for further projects – we have already completed several of them.

I believe we have compatible tastes and work ethics. Eglė does not advise on technical production problems that arise, and I do not interfere in the creative process. Of course, sometimes you must keep tabs on the film’s budget and look for a cheaper option, but this is probably inevitable. I like directors who have their own opinions, and Eglė not only has one, but she can certainly defend it!

Eglė: Lineta knows how to listen, we work hand in hand; if there is something I would like to do, Lineta tries to create all the possibilities for it to happen. As a producer, she thinks not only about staying within the budget but also about how to increase it if one or another element could improve the film. I am convinced that it is important not only to have a good working relationship with the producer but also to believe in your films and to share the same attitude and energy.

Filming Ootid

Can you tell us more about the idea of “OOtid”? Eglė, how did it come about? Lineta, what impressed you about it?

Eglė: With my previous films, I delved into various types of violence. I’m a philosophy graduate, and I got hooked on Žižek’s book called “Violence.” The book explores three types of violence: objective, subjective, and symbolic. In the reality that we experience, there are not only clearly defined forms of violence but also hard-to-name ones that are characterized by their inherent structure. I was very interested in precisely these examples, which do not allow a clear understanding of who is to blame in a certain situation. This is how my previous film, “The Fall” came about. When I got tired of that complexity, I wanted to explore the topic from a different angle. I began to delve into the biological and biochemical determinism of human nature and realized that our existence is inherently violent. We cannot change the biochemical process that takes place inside us. We cannot fight against it, in a sense, it always works against our will.

In my work, it is important to deconstruct certain stigmas and call for a change in the audience, so that they understand that not everything is as we are used to seeing, and people can turn out to be different than we consider them. That is why, in my films, it is not the character, but changes in the world around him or her that are prominent.

Lineta: I was attracted by the uniqueness of this film, the subject matter, which is still a kind of “taboo”. I also like that the movie featured only girls, whose conversations are reminiscent of adolescence, and camping time, and have a tinge of nostalgia. By the way, films no longer than 15 minutes are submitted for the Cannes program, so the duration of this movie is also excellent.

In your own opinion, what makes this film universal, and appealing to an international audience?

Lineta: In my opinion, the topic is interesting. It tries to look at a woman and her body in a different way, to spot and highlight the changes that are taking place. There are certain standards for how filmmakers approach these topics, but Eglė talks about them in a unique, different way.

Egle: The film touches on women, the theme of femininity, it talks about the constant attempt to meet certain standards, alienation in our social circles, and at the same time its opposition —solidarity, which suddenly mobilizes. Our physiology is defined by the laws of genetics, and we constantly try to squeeze it into some kind of framework acceptable to the society and the media. Feminist discourse issues are important in the global film community and are being talked about more and more today.

The film shows a lot of the Lithuanian landscape, besides, it explores the narratives of national identity, folklore elements connected to mythology, and magical tales. I don’t know how well a wider audience will be able to feel it and identify with it, we’ll see. For most Lithuanians, a relationship with nature is extremely important, and I wanted to emphasize it. I think the film has achieved the necessary balance between global issues and an authentic approach to its disclosure on the screen.

Your team includes professionals of the young generation who have already earned recognition and many awards. In your opinion, does your generation see creativity, and the processes taking place on the set differently?

Egle: Well, the older generation, are representatives of another historical era. They talk about the things that are important to them – the coups and upheavals that took place back then. As for the older generation in the true sense of the word, probably. It’s out of reach for me, I’m a child of independence. I focus on global issues and European problems, this is where I see topics that excite me. The European model – borderless, boundless unification poses its own challenges.

Artists today have more courage. The film industry is extremely competitive; everyone wants to make films, so you have to constantly push forward, to be able to prove that this particular project is worthy and be able to introduce yourself at the right time. To earn your place under the sun, you have to work hard. it’s a mistake to think that talent alone is enough, that you are an exceptional artist who will one day finally gain recognition. This does not happen, there are many infinitely talented people in this world, the question is how you will succeed in overshadowing others and showing yourself — this is today’s reality.

Lineta: Eglė and cameraman Nojus Drąsutis try to fulfill the vision as much as possible, perfectionism prevails in their team. I think they are very brave, they are not afraid to speak, to go ahead, to say what they want. In general, our team is characterized by great focus and dedication to their work. I don’t know if this is typical of the entire young generation. I also get to interact with people of the older generation, but the youth are bolder and pursue their goals relentlessly. For example, older generations often feel that a certain level of recognition is necessary to enter high-profile festivals. Our example proves that festivals simply need a good film.

Filming „OOtid“

What has working in the film industry taught you? Perhaps you developed certain character traits, values, and attitudes not only toward creativity but also toward life?

Lineta: Cinema made me a stronger person. I learned to say “no”. I have grown to appreciate motivation and honesty immensely. I’ve noticed that now I find young people who are not doing anything slightly annoying (laughs).

Eglė: I agree with Lineta: today you can express yourself beautifully in various fields, you just have to try, and make an effort. In cinema, as well as in other disciplines, there are endless opportunities that allow you to showcase the best of what you’ve got, so it’s a shame when people don’t find their place. There are so many fun things to do right now!

I have also started to appreciate other people’s time, because working on the film set, I understood how precious time is. I have seen people work for free because they believe in the idea of the film, so you have a lot of respect for them – after all, they trust you, and they give you their entire scope of talent in the process. This makes you very clearly assess your goals both in your personal life and at work.

What would the “Short Film Palme d’Or” award mean to a young filmmaker?

Lineta: This prize would be a token of appreciation for consistent and meticulous work, and for young artists, it would be the biggest incentive and motivation to keep working toward their goals. The most important thing is not to put yourself too high on the pedestal and strive for improvement. And such festivals pave the way to the international market, where it is difficult to establish yourself, but it is certainly possible.

Thank you for the conversation.

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