A brass band leader’s life gets riotously uncomfortable in this pleasing debut from Lithuania


Source: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival


 Dir/scr: Titas Laucius. Lithuania. 2022. 97 mins.

Sometimes life comes at you from all directions. Shortly after her youth brass band has been recruited to perform at a municipal parade in her provincial Lithuanian town, Migle (Rasa Samuolyte) faces losing her key musician, Gabriele (Barbora Bareikyte), who has decided to trade the trumpet for Capoeira. The fact that the mutinous Gabriele is also her daughter further complicates matters. Meanwhile, a seemingly simple request from her ex-husband Eimantas (Giedrius Savickas) – to secure a Catholic church-sanctioned annulment to go along with their existing civil divorce – sees them both enmeshed in the Kafkaesque layers of an ecclesiastical tribunal. Like its frazzled central character, the film finds it increasingly challenging to balance the two competing story strands, culminating in a final act that feels somewhat overstretched and fragmentary. But despite this, Parade is a real pleasure – a cracking comedy that bounces its sharply observed characters against the immovable absurdity of Catholic dogma.

A cracking comedy that bounces its sharply observed characters against the immovable absurdity of Catholic dogma.

This is the first feature from Titas Laucius, whose short films Snake (2018) and Family Unit (2019) both won top prizes at the Vilnius Film Festival. It premieres in Tallinn, having won a work-in-progress award at the Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event the previous year. Further festival interest seems likely for a picture that should find a responsive audience domestically and within the wider Baltic region.

An enjoyable early scene sets the tone. In the back seat of a taxi, Migle and Gabriele debate whether or not knocking out a fellow musician’s tooth with his own trumpet was an appropriate response to his annoying behaviour. Migle thinks not. In the driver’s seat, Migle’s second husband and Gabriele’s father Ignas (Valentin Novopolsky) is inclined to think dental trauma is fair game in this situation. But there’s another person in the car – a paying passenger in Ignas’ taxi who is nonplussed to find himself amid a heated family debate and whose presence, captured by an impish camera that seeks out moments of maximum discomfort, ramps up the comedy in already amusing scene.

Of the two story strands, the one detailing Migle and Eimantas’ knotty tangles with the Catholic church ultimately proves to be the more rewarding (there are parallels with Federico Veiroj’s similarly labyrinthine exploration of the workings of the Church, The Apostate). An assured, attractive woman in her late forties, Migle soon loses patience with pallid boy-priests tasked with queasily picking over the details of her former sex life. But while her sarcasm torpedoes the first attempt at a Catholic divorce, they can still, explains a suave priest, get through on “penalties”. 

Deft framing and an astute sixth sense for the flow of tensions between large groups of people means that the film is most successful with scenes – like an awkward extended family get-together – which play to Laucius’ strengths as a filmmaker. Migle and her ex find themselves growing closer with each new bureaucratic hurdle, and the brewing tacit re-connection between Migle and her ex-husband is messy, unexpected and entirely persuasive.

 Production company/international sales: afterschool production, klementina@aftschool.lt

Producer: Klementina Remeikaite

Cinematography: Laurynas Bareisa

Production design: Juste Vazgyte

Editing: Mikas Zukauskas

Music: Justinas Vaznevicius, Valdemaras Liezys, Danielius Pancerovas, Titas Laucius

Main cast: Rasa Samuolyte, Giedrius Savickas, Valentin Novopolsky, Barbora Bareikyte, Asta Lacharovaite