Kaunas International Film Festival

Today I returned from the Kaunas International Film Festival in Lithuania, where I was invited by the Festival Director, Ilona Jurkonyte, whom I met in Venice last year.

I was invited to speak on a panel/seminar called Cinemas in Community, and my fellow guests were two philosphers and an architect, people far more qualified than me to talk about the social theory and physical history of cinema, so I came with a very practical and down-to-earth approach. It was a fascinating day which ended in a debate about the future of arthouse cinema and arthouse cinemas, with me (as always) arguing for networks and more commercial common sense on the behalf of exhibitors.

Rob Beames accompanied me on the trip, and we both saw the Palme D'Or winner UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES as part of the Festival lineup. Unfortunately we didn't have any more time to see any of the other interesting things on offer, and we left too early to catch the Bela Tarr retrospective (and visit from the filmmaker) that follows tomorrow. Our thoughts on UNCLE BOONMEE will follow in Splendor Podcast #35.

While we were there, Ilona received the keys to Romuva, a historic cinema from the 1930s which she has been battling to save from a developer for the last four years. We received a tour of the beautiful building and discussed her plans for its future.

The festival organisers and staff were delightful, helpful and very welcoming, and we were also visited by some of our friends in Vilnius, who have made me promise to return and visit their arthouse cinemas (Skalvija & Pasaka), which I look forward to doing soon.