Oscars: Lithuania Selects 'Seneca's Day' for Foreign-Language Category

Courtesy of Studija Uljana Kim
'Seneca's Day'

Rock star turned director Kristijonas Vildziunas grapples with teenage memories haunting a group of friends in this Baltic states co-production.

Lithuania has selected Kristijonas Vildzuinas' Seneca's Day as its submission in the best foreign-language film category at the Oscars.

In a co-production with Baltic neighbors Latvia and Estonia, Vildzuinas, who made his name as a rock star in Lithuania in the late 1990s before turning to film, goes back a quarter of a century to set up his story on mid-life disillusionment.

Set in Vilnius in 1989, the final year of Soviet rule, teenage friends resolve to "live each day as if it were your last" in a group they call Seneca's Fellowship, named after the famous Roman philosopher. Broken apart by a love triangle, the friends drift apart. A quarter of a century later, with disillusionment haunting his apparently successful life, one member of the group feels he has betrayed his youthful ideals and delves into a Pandora's box of memories.

Vildzuinas has three shorts and three features to his name -- including Back to Your Arms, which was Lithuania's foreign-language Oscar entry in 2011. Industry observers in Lithuania are pinning high hopes on Seneca's Day, which he also wrote.

Produced by Lithuania's Studio Uljana Kim, Estonia's Amrion and Latvia's Locomotive Productions, the film, which was supported by state film funds in each country as well as Eurimages, stars Dainius Gavenonis, Marijus Mazunas, Elzbieta Latenaite and Ina Marija Bartaite.

Lithuania has never won an Oscar or even been nominated in the foreign-language category, although last year's entry, lesbian teen coming-of-age story The Summer of Sangaile, won the best director award in Sundance's World Cinematic class for director Alante Kavaite.