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Vilnius on Screen

Films shot in Vilnius

CATHERINE THE GREAT (2019)

Set against the lavish backdrop of the politically ruthless 18th century Russian court, this four-part epic starring Helen Mirren will chart the latter years of Russian empress Catherine the Great’s 34-year reign. Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, Catherine the Great develops a unique and devoted relationship with Grigory Potemkin, overcoming their adversaries and serving as the architects of modern-day Russia.

DID YOU KNOW

  • Helen Mirren says she would be glad to play the Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė.
  • Helen Mirren is one of only 14 actresses to have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting: she has one Academy Award, four Primetime Emmy Awards and one Tony Award. She also has four BAFTA Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and was appointed Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2003 Birthday Honours for services to drama.
  • The real Catherine the Great had 22 male lovers throughout her life, some of whom would reap political benefits from their relationship with her. Among them, the most famous was Grigory Potemkin.

CHERNOBYL (2019)

Based on the stories of real-life heroes, the movie focuses on the infamous nuclear plant disaster that occurred on 26 April 1986 in the USSR – one of the world’s worst manmade catastrophes. The movie is a five-part look at the scientists and others who sacrificed their lives to spare the world from a broader disaster. Jared Harris plays Valery Legasov, the scientist chosen by the Kremlin to investigate the accident.

DID YOU KNOW

  • Around 5,000 people participated in the filming.
  • The closed Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant was one of the reasons to choose Lithuania for the filming of the series.
  • To recreate the town of Pripyat near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the crew needed to find apartment blocks without any trees.

THE LAST CZARS (2019)

This six-episode project – a combination of documentary and reenactment – tells the tale of the last imperial Russian dynasty. The story starts off with the coronation of Czar Nicholas II and follows his decisions leading to the tragic ending of the Romanov Dynasty and the Russian Empire.

DID YOU KNOW

  • Film director Adrian John McDowall is a BAFTA Award-Winning Filmmaker.
  • The Romanovs were one of the most famous and powerful dynasties in Russian history, ruling the country for 300 years. In 1918, Nicholas II and his entire family were murdered.
  • There were many conspiracy theories about the Czar’s youngest daughter, the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna. Many falsely claimed they were Anastasia while the best known impostor is Anna Anderson claiming to be a member of the royal family. However, the posthumous DNA tests showed otherwise.

THE CONDUCTOR (2019)

Based on Camilla Grebe and Paul Leander Engtröm’s first novel in the ‘Moscow Noir’ trilogy, this eight-part series takes viewers back to Moscow in 1999 with its oligarch laws and corruption. A young Swedish investor tangled in a mafia web has to fight politicians, oligarchs, their violent defenders, and even himself.

DID YOU KNOW

  • One of the more difficult technical challenges was the outdoor pool. The crew had to build a deep pool and keep the water temperature at 29 °C while it was only 8 °C at night.
  • 90 % of the cast is Lithuanian.
  • The series marked the first time a Lithuanian company worked as a co-producer on such a large scale.

THE OIL FUND (2018)

The TV series follows day-to-day life in the Norwegian Oil Fund, the largest state fund in the world, whose assets are valued at over EUR 1 trillion. It focuses on Per Grepp and other employees who are trying to strike a balance between their ordinary, minimalistic lives and their luxurious multi-million-euro investments at work. Can the delicate equilibrium between ethics and finance be maintained, or will personal agendas inevitably compromise them? On the approach to the subject, Espen Horn, producer at Motion Blur, explained: “The humour comes from the contrast between our socialdemocratic values that led to the creation of the Oil Fund for future generations, and the business-minded guys who run it and are trying to double and triple its value.”

DID YOU KNOW

  • This is a first TV project produced by Harald Zwart, who is known for the famous The Pink Panther 2 (2009) and Karate Kid (2010).
  • Tom Gulbrandsen, one of the creators of the movie and screenplay, is usually involved in every Harald Zwart movie as they are good friends.
  • This TV series is inspired by an insider look at the colliding worlds of high finance and public service.

CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE (2018)

This eight-part TV series focuses on Sweden’s involvement in the global arms trade. This political thriller is a fastpaced story of revenge, guilt and double standards. The series explores both the consequences of the weapons trade on personal lives and the moral hypocrisy that allows the trade to flourish. The main character, Robert Kastell, a former arms dealer forced into exile, returns to Sweden seeking revenge on the man who tried to kill him. Through this central story, the series peels the layers of complex moral issues, from the authorities through to the individual. Daniel Lägersten, the show’s producer, said: “This is an important series that will show a different side to Sweden: a country with an immaculate reputation in international diplomacy, but also a leading player in an industry that fuels wars. We believe it is a huge story to tell the world.”

DID YOU KNOW

  • Even though it maintains an international reputation as a neutral peacekeeper free of any alliances, Sweden is a major part of the international arms industry.
  • Charlotte Brändström also directed Outlander, Occupied, and Grey’s Anatomy.

POPE VS HITLER (2016)

This documentary tells the story of one of the twentieth century’s biggest controversies: suspicion that Pope Pius XII was collaborating with Nazis and the Vatican’s plans to murder Adolf Hitler. The filmmakers have blended period newsreels, solid re-enactments, and more than a dozen historians to tell the story of the European resistance to Hitler, shedding new light on the secret plans to get rid of the Nazi scourge.

DID YOU KNOW

  • The filming only started after the approval of the Archbishop Metropolitan of Vilnius, Gintaras Grušas.
  • Tourists by the Gate of Dawn believed that the Pope had arrived to Vilnius.
  • Vilnius Cathedral served as St. Peter’s Basilica, with Swiss guards protecting the building from the Nazis.
  • More than 100 people worked on the set to make the film happen.
  • The costume designers had to consult experts of liturgical apparel.

JACK THE RIPPER (2016)

The movie explores Jack the Ripper’s killings in the streets of Whitechapel, London stretching from 3 April 1888 to 13 February 1891. Trying to save her brother from murder charges, Anna Kosminski begins her own investigation. She meets three helpful men, but whom can she really trust? Soon, Anna gets caught in the sights of the serial killer and no matter what she does, Jack the Ripper always seems to be one step ahead of her.

DID YOU KNOW

  • The film’s main actress, Sonja Gerhardt, was honoured at the German Television Awards 2017 as the Best Actress (for Ku’damm 56).
  • There are more than 200 books, five movies and 200,000 online pages about Jack the Ripper.
  • The British historian Andrew Cook has hypothesised that a Star Newspaper journalist invented the Jack the Ripper story to gain bigger readership.

TOKYO TRIAL (2017)

This four-part miniseries focuses on a two-and-a half-year long trial in Tokyo in the wake of WWII. With eleven judges from across the world and 28 Pacific war criminals, the historical drama depicts the International Military Tribunal of the Far East, a Japanese version of the Nuremberg Tribunal. The series was nominated for the International Emmy Awards in 2017 as Best TV Movie/ Mini-Series.

DID YOU KNOW

  • The show includes actual footage of the trial and depicts what Japan was like at the time. The archive footage of the actual courtroom has been colourised.
  • Gabija Jaraminaitė performed the role of interpreter and was the only female in the court proceedings.
  • The biggest challenge was to recreate the devastated city of Tokyo in Lithuania. This was an important criterion in choosing the filming location – the producers were searching for the perfect spot all over Europe and found it in Didžiasalis, Lithuania.
  • The authenticity of Japan was recreated to the smallest detail, from original kimonos to cigarette packages. A lot of other props were brought directly from Japan. 200 people worked on set day and night to make this miniseries happen. It is the movie of the century for the Japanese.
  • The show mainly follows the Dutch Judge Röling who is the uncle of successful painter Marthe Röling.
  • The series premiered in 190 countries and 20 languages on Netflix, reaching 86 million viewers. Tokyo Trial is the first NHK (Japan’s largest broadcasting organisation) and Netflix project.

WAR AND PEACE (2016)

It is a six-part adaptation of the novel War and Peace by Russian author Leo Tolstoy, written by Andrew Davies and directed by Tom Harper. In a new adaptation, three young people experience life, love and loss against the epic backdrop of Russia’s wars with Napoleon.

DID YOU KNOW

  • A six-part historical series according to the novel by Leo Tolstoy was mainly filmed in picturesque places of Lithuania has become a true sensation in Great Britain.
  • The series created by the British public broadcaster BBC was already broadcasted to viewers in the 25 countries all over the world.

2 NIGHTS TILL MORNING (2015)

While on a business trip, Caroline (Marie Josée Croze), a French architect, and Jaakko (Mikko Nousinainen), a Finnish DJ, meet in Vilnius and end up spending the night together. Originally thinking their relationship was a pure one-night stand, it takes an unexpected turn when a volcanic ash cloud prevents all flights from leaving the Lithuanian capital.

DID YOU KNOW

  • During the hectic three week filming schedule, Marie Josée Croze was occasionally confused about whether shooting was taking place, as she was staying in the same hotel in which much of the film is set.
  • The title track ‘Wait Until The Morning’ by Lithuanian band Freaks on Floor almost became the name of the film.
  • Almost 400 extras were needed for the nightclub scenes.

THE MIDWIFE (2015)

‘The Midwife’ (fin.’Kätilö’) is a romance-drama set during WWII in Finland’s Lapland province, a major European battle ground of the war. Based on Katja Kettu’s bestselling novel, ‘The Midwife’ turns on the love affair between a Lapp midwife (Krista Kosonen) and a Nazi SS officer (Lauri Tilkanen) set against the backdrop of the Lapland War fought between Finnish and Germany armies in 1944-45. The themes in the story are international. It’s about conquering love and war, and class boundaries that are broken down.

DID YOU KNOW

  • Krista Kosonen, the film’s lead actress, won the best actress award at the International Shanghai Film Festival for her role in this film.
  • Krista Kosonen also cut her hair on camera for the role.
Photography credits: Baltic Film Services, GO Vilnius, Robertas Dačkus, Saulius Žiūra,  Dansu, Artbox,  Paprika Studios, Ahil,  Nordic Productions,  Audrius Ambrasas,  Vilnius Film Office, Rūta Krau.

 

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