Inspiration was the main objective of the one-week-long Sports Film Festival held in mid-December. This time, however, the annual project was different: film lovers could watch the movies free of charge and safely, i.e. without leaving their homes.
“We are going through a difficult time, therefore this year the festival sought to inspire people, to brighten up their moods and introduce to them our unique sports heroes and tell them their stories. We wanted to provide this opportunity to all Lithuanian residents, from young viewers to the seniors, therefore all the films with Lithuanian subtitles were shown free of charge.
I am sure these films have helped to see the other side of sport, where medals are not the only measure of victories, and where determination and hard work at the sports ground change history,“ said Daina Gudzinevičiūtė, Olympic champion, member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), President of the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania (LNOC).
The programme of the 2020 festival consisted of twelve documentaries and one feature film, which spoke, via sport and personal stories, about gender equality, climate change, children’s physical activity, the integration of refugees and the elderly and about other social challenges.
The festival involved five relevant discussions with athletes, experts, teachers and film directors. The discussion participants tried to answer the questions about whether sport could serve as a means of integrating refugees into society, how sport is related to climate change, how to get rid of gender stereotypes in sport, how to maintain a relationship with oneself and society as we grow older, and what physical literacy means.
All festival films were available to the audience free of charge on the Lithuanian Film Foundation platform. The most popular film of the festival was the cinematograph film “K2: My Way” presented by the embassy of the Czech Republic in Vilnius about the woman’s invincible will, desire and effort in pursuit of her goal.
“This is the first Czech documentary about a Czech female mountaineer. The film speaks about how difficult it is to find acceptance in today’s society and why it is necessary to defend one’s position, objective and desires and fight for them. Clara constantly balances between the roles of a woman, mom, and mountaineer. Why are men allowed more than women in today’s society?
The film raises the topics that are currently relevant and unfortunately painful and unresolved worldwide, such as gender equality and, in general, an individual’s human right to choose and decide,“ said Vit Korselt, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Lithuania.
The story from Scotland “Climbing Blind” and the short film “118 Feet of Freedom” by the Lithuanian director Mintautas Grigas attracted considerable interest.
The audience also showed interest in the films “Runner” and “Will” presented by the festival partner the US embassy in Vilnius, telling the incredible experiences of two men that changed history.
“We were delighted to have been able to present the multiple award-winning US documentaries at the Sports Film Festival again. We are also grateful for this opportunity to our long-time partners, the US film diplomacy program the American Film Showcase, which shows relevant documentaries to the viewers around the world.
These two films are excellent examples of this program, inviting us to discuss current social issues, refugees, diversity, tolerance and the power of sports as well as exceptional athletes who are able to unite people of different origins and cultures,“ said Caitlin Nettleton, the Cultural Attaché at the US Embassy in Vilnius.
The festival was organized by the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania in cooperation with the US Embassy in Vilnius along with the American Film Showcase program and the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Vilnius, Vilnius University, Olympic Channel, and the Lithuanian Film Foundation.