• Datum 16-01-2014
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"Where are you from?" I don’t really like answering that question. Not that I’m embarassed, it’s just that I always get this "Oh." as a reaction. In most parts of the world people have no clue where my country is, and in case they do I have to frown again, giving a sharp "NO" to the question, "Is your language similar to Russian?"
A country 300 km wide, and now officially 23 years old, yet everyone there would know what I refer to when I suddenly shout: "I cannot sleep, there are ants in bed, ants!!!" — a scene from a film made in the 70’s, when we were not on the world’s map yet. We have our film industry, history and style, which is as hard to define as the Lithuanian character. It’s something in between an inferiority complex and the obvious symptoms of a ridiculed genius, between a poet too shy to ask money for his words and a practical wanna-be-artist, thinking he can make it right if he does it right, sincerely following all the new ‘cools’.
Speaking of which, have you noticed it has suddenly become cool to be Eastern European? All that Soviet fetishism, nostalgia and exotification of our past actually looks good on screen too. And you don’t need 3D glasses to sense the atmosphere of highrises where everyone’s furniture was the same — communist made. Americans have had a mania for Russian names for quite a while now, thinking someone called Sasha must be tough or hot, while we have a mania for America. Our cinema is overtaken by the belated trend of remakes. Some of them are pathetic and embarrassing, but one made me burst out laughing, because American jokes actually sound better in Lithuanian. Even the intellectual gurus, gently making their first steps onto the cinema grounds, openly admit to following the big fish: "We learned from them, now they will watch our film."
We have trends of wanting ’to be as good as they are’ (which, for better or worse, translates to ‘copying’) and ‘forgive but don’t forget’, digging out the past. Meanwhile, the authentic Lithuanian cinematographic poetry gets a random position, unable to stand its ground in defining ‘Lithuanian Cinema’.
Feeling embarrassed while watching Lithuanian acting made me realise you can never portray someone else without knowing who you actually are. If you ask a random Lithuanian he’ll probably shrug. "You won’t understand it", he’ll say, thinking the Lithuanian essence is truly known only to himself.
Understanding arts is like eating bread, as I’ve noticed while in London. Even the least mainstream, most intellectual ‘citizens of the world’ love to pop in to native grocery shops, because "they have the best bread in town, you must try it!" Although I doubt it’s the best, I’m pretty sure it tastes like a retrospective of reality — something just right, just the way it used to be those days at home. By the way, have you tried our dark and rich Lithuanian rye bread? You should.

Vaiva Rykštaité is a writer, philosopher, film addict and travelling yoga teacher from Lithuania