Oscars: Lithuania Picks 'The Gambler' in Foreign-Language Category

The Gambler Still - H 2014

The Gambler Still - H 2014

Ignas Jonynas' darkly cynical film focuses on a deathly gambling syndicate

A darkly cynical portrait of human greed, Ignas Jonynas' The Gambler is Lithuania's nomination for the foreign-language category at the 2015 Oscars.

Set in a hospital ambulance station where paramedic Vincentas (stage actor Vytautas Kaniusonis), a passionate gambler, comes up with a radical idea to settle his debts, the film focuses on the darkest impulses of ordinary people.

Desperate for money, he hits on the idea of a sweepstakes based on whether hospital patients will survive the week.

The film's producers, who registered the internet domain deadbook.it for the film — subsequently receiving numerous offers from entrepreneurs seeing the financial potential in such a name — held off on a national premiere for more than a year, until this month, with its local bow due Sept. 24.

The film, also known by its local title Losejas, premiered last year in San Sebastian's Kutxa-New Directors section and has screened at more than 30 festivals wordwide, including in Marrakech last year in front of a jury that included Martin Scorsese, Marion Cotillard and Patricia Clarkson. Awards include a local prize and special jury mention in Warsaw. 

Wide Management is repping the film internationally and has already sold it to Italy, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.