Lithuania to Promote Local Films in Theater at Capital's Airport

Summer of Sangaile
Courtesy of Sundance International Film Festival

Free movies are part of the Lithuanian Film Center's drive to showcase local talent.

Lithuania's national film agency is hoping cinema from the small Baltic state will take off internationally after it opened a movie theater in the departure lounge of the international airport in the country's capital, Vilnius.

The theater, designed by FilmBox LT, seats 50 people and will screen short films in Lithuanian with English subtitles — and eventually, longer movies — free of charge for departure lounge passengers between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. and later if flights are delayed.

The brainchild of Liana Ruokyte-Jonsson, head of film distribution, information and heritage at the Lithuanian Film Center, and the airport's general manager Gediminas Almantas, the cinema also will be available for business and promotional events, according to FilmBox LT.

The theater, which is to remain on site close to the airport's departure gate 2, opened Friday with a program of shorts that include Dog's Life, a 24-minute film by Ieva Veiveryte about a middle-aged woman's life crisis sparked by the death of her pet.

Two years ago an international passenger survey by online flight booking service Skyscanner found that nearly half of all travelers wanted to see cinemas in airports. A cinema screening Czech and Slovak films has been operating at Prague airport for the past few years.

Ruokyte-Jonsson, a former Lithuanian embassy cultural attache in Scandinavia, who met Almantas, an aviation lawyer, when he worked at Copenhagen airport, says the Lithuanian filmmakers are enjoying a new wave of domestic popularity — national share of box office went up from 2.5 percent in 2012 to 23 percent last year. International recognition also is growing: Teen lesbian romance The Summer of Sangaile, a Lithuania-France co-production, picked up a World Cinema award for its director Alante Kavaite at Sundance in January and a new 20 percent production incentive is attracting foreign productions, such as the BBC adaptation of War and Peace.

Almantas said around 3 million passengers pass through Vilnius airport every year. "We care about our passengers and their good mood," he said. "Passengers will have an opportunity to relax before the flight as well as to become familiar with the Lithuanian cinema."