Source: Courtesy of Meeting Point Vilnius


Lithuanian filmmaker Saulė Bliuvaitė’s Toxic, a coming-of-age teenage tale, secured this year’s Work in Progress prize at Meeting Point Vilnius (MPV), the annual audiovisual industry event that takes place during the Vilnius International Film Festival, Kino Pavasaris.

The award lands the filmmaking team a €5,000 cash prize from the Lithuanian Film Centre,  

Toxic is being produced by Lithuania’s Giedrė Burokaitė, with Bliuvaitė, the pair are looking for a sales agent and “a premiere at a film festival” for the title which they anticipate finishing by the end of May this year.

It is about a young girl abandoned by her mother and forced to live with her grandmother in a bleak industrial town, Toxic details the hope offered by mysterious modelling schools and the competition between young women to audition to win a place 

“As I grew up in a bleak industrial area, I was living with the thought of escaping – not just from my surroundings, but also from my body. This film is based on my own experiences as a 13-year-old girl and on the events that unfolded around me at that time,” Bliuvaitė said.

The works-in-progress jury was comprised of Heidi Zwicker, Sundance Film Festival senior programmer, Javier Garcia Puerto, director of festival REC (Tarragona), and Phil Guy, Mubi marketing director  and film programmer at Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival.

“We admired the authenticity and gravity with which this promising feature debut depicted the struggles of its compelling young protagonists as well as the visual craft of the director,” the jury said.

The special mention award went to Turkish duo Emre Sert’s and Gözde Yetişkin’s comedy drama Grace For Sale produced by Ender Sevim and Kerem Çelebi. The film, currently in post-production, features a simple-minded peasant in a humble Anatolian village who discovers a valuable meteorite and wrestles with life-changing cash offers and the potential impact on his life.

“We were impressed with the way this project depicted social realities about the perils of capitalism through the lens of a comedy with style and originality,” said the jury.

Emilija Škarnulytė’s documentary feature Sounds Of Desert won both the AVAKA prize for best Lithuanian picture and the JETSONIX full post-production award. 

“This will go towards the editor’s salary,” quipped Škarnulytė of the cheque for €1,000.

Škarnulytė’s film is billed as a visual odyssey of Sun Ra concepts through their followers - Marshall Allen and Abshalom Ben Shlomo – while uncovering key figures in the contemporary jazz music scene.

Zoran Tairovic’s drama feature Paritas Mundi and Lana Shapoval’s documentary Quiet War were awarded complementary Marche du Film industry and Producers Network badges for this year’s May event.

A drama series jury was comprised of Swedish fiction and documentary producer Helene Granqvist, scriptwriter Valeria Richter and German screenwriter and creative producer Joachim Friedmann.

It awarded the Creative Europe Media Desk Lithuania prize, offering a script consultation with Berlin-based Friedmann, to Czech animated adult series Garbage created by Jaroslav Klimes.

“We have already seen a lot of dystopian series. But those in which a yoghurt pot plays the leading role and wanders through apocalyptic lands with its companion, an old beer can? That’s new,” Friedmann noted. “The series combines black humour with relevant themes and poses the question of what we will actually do when the world is finally destroyed. ”

The winners were selected from 11 projects – eight fiction and three documentaries – selected for MPV’s two -hour Work in Progress (WiP) pitching session. 

Held in a screening room in the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, the session was hosted by Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival programmer and former Kino Pavasaris senior programmer Edvinas Pukšta. It is a major part of MPV’s strategy to become a boutique event offering a bridging point for national and regional film professionals with those attending from different European countries.

This year’s film projects included Leaving Eden, from Albanian director, writer and producer Genc Permeti. The Albania-Poland-Italy-Kosovo co-production, is a post-apocalyptic drama now in post production. Its producers include veteran filmmaker Amedeo Pagani, whose credits include The Man Who Bought the Moon.

Slovenian filmmaker Darko Štante brought The Lost Son to MPV. It follows his 2018 debut Consequences which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to win awards and seal distribution deals worldwide. The Lost Son is the story of a detective who encounters his long-lost, brother, sparking a chain of events that unravels their lives. The €1.3m film is a co-production between Slovenia-Greece-Italy-Croatia and North Macedonia. It is fully financed and now in post, looking for a sales agent and festival slots. 

One Baltic-based producer said this year’s MPV “feels like a place where real conversations about getting films made and fruitful networking and meetings are going on.”

Croatian director and producer Vanja Vascarac and producer Stjepan Hundic attended MPV together with two projects: an elevated horror called Block62 set in a apartment building rocked by a slew of suicides in suspicious circumstances; and Immortal, a 2D animation project about greek gods who aren’t really greek gods, to be built in a game engine.

The producers explained Lithuania was an attractive minority co-production partner due to its 30% tax rebate for productions that spend at least €43,000 in the coutnry and incur at least 80% of eligible  production costs in the country.