Milana Vujkov, marketing manager at The Gate, welcomed a special Q&A of Lithuanian documentary HOW WE PLAYED THE REVOLUTION to the cinema.
What we like best at The Gate is when we are at the centre of international events! Cinema should serve as ‘the gates of perception’, and it’s a small world after all. So to our great delight we recently hosted a wonderful evening for the Day of Restoration of Lithuanian Independence on 11 March, in collaboration with the Lithuanian Embassy in London and some lovely people from those parts.
The treat in question was the remarkably insightful and moving Lithuanian documentary HOW WE PLAYED THE REVOLUTION (KAIP MES ŽAIDĖME REVOLIUCIJĄ), followed by a lively Q&A with its director, Giedrė Žickytė. The doc portrays an unlikely group of revolutionaries: a post-punk art-rock band of the mid-1980s called Antis. With their kabuki makeup, wide shoulder pads, sophisticated anti-establishment lyrics and peacock posturing, Antis managed to galvanise an entire nation to rebel. Their enigmatic frontman Algirdas Kaušpėdas formed the band in 1984 as a New Year joke for the architects’ union party in Kaunas. The word ‘antis’ means ‘duck’ in Lithuanian, but it’s also slang for a false mass-media sensation.
What a joke it was. They were brilliant, and the word spread pretty much like wildfire, all over Lithuania, and then throughout the USSR. Antis were hailed as one of the best rock bands in the entire Soviet Union, toured Europe and the USA, and even played at CBGB’s. In the meantime, their appearances on Soviet state television caused quite a bit of political upset. Antis’s antics became well documented by the KGB. Nevertheless, the tide could not be turned. Kaušpėdas quit the band, turned to politics, joined the Sąjūdis pro-independence party, and went on to unleash the perestroika. What followed came to be known as the Baltic Singing Revolution and led to the restoration of independence for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Part of this was one of the most memorable events of political activism in recent times: on 23 August 1989, around two million people joined hands to form a human chain spanning more than 600km across the three Baltic states.
Director Giedrė Žickytė spoke lovingly in the Q&A about her personal experiences of the times as a little girl in the midst of momentous events, her family links to the protagonists, and the amazing journey involved in gathering the precious footage included in the film. Most of it is actually private video footage from citizens, some of which found its way into the hands of international broadcasters, as reporting from the ground was difficult and often impossible. However, acres of tape were never screened in public, and the documentary uncovers these gems and brings them to light.
Great evening, fascinating story, packed cinema, wonderful people. We could not ask for anything more.