Andrius Blazevicius is one of the most promising movie directors in Lithuania. This year one of his movies – ‘The Saint’ has been nominated as the best movie in 2017 and it also received six ‘Sidabrinė gervė’ (movie awards in Lithuania).
We spoke with Andrius about travelling, life and, of course, ‘The Saint’.
Inspiration: If I need to answer this quickly – it’s life.
Favourite place: home.
Book: don’t have the one but if I have to pick then it would be Franz Kafka ‘Process”.
Song: Fugazi – Full Disclosure.
Food: to be honest – pizza.
What is you story as a director?
When I was little I used to love watching movies and lots of television. At that time, I used to watch movies that had such actors as Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Bruce Lee, Jean-Claude Van Damme, then they were my heroes. After watching it, I used to make up some stories or movies in my head. I also wanted to be an actor because I thought they were the ones that create movies. Obviously, being little I didn’t know what the director means; but when I figured it out – I decided I want to be one of them. However, at that time I was in that kind of environment where art wasn’t common but I still kept thinking that dreams and life are two separate things. Even though, I still dreamt about being a director, I’d decided to be a lawyer, as that kind of qualification was the most popular at that time. Obviously, my true soviet kid mind was saying: ‘Yes, law it is, I will make some good connections’. But then there was 10th grade speaking exam which topic was ‘Your dream qualification’ and, as you know, my dream was to be a movie director (at that stage I was already watching more interesting movies). I also thought that teachers will enjoy listening to that rather than law.
When I started talking about my favourite movies, teachers were shocked as they didn’t expect to hear that from me, I was a bit of a rascal. At the end of my speaking exam, the teacher said ‘well, looks like we going to have a movie director’. And then I thought – why not.
As movies go around the globe, do you like to travel yourself?
I do but sometimes it gets difficult. One moment its finances, next – the schedule. On the other hand, travelling with a movie is what I like the most because when you come to show your movie, you come with a meaning – it’ like coming with a mission. Because of the movie ‘The Saint’, I managed to go to Italy, Spain, South Korea and Germany. It’s nice.
What do you like the most ouf of travelling?
I really like architecture. Some people like to travel cause of nature – they like waterfalls, forests. I like civilization – what people have created with their own hands. It’s very charming – churches, buildings. Also, it is interesting to look at people differences, for instance – visually. Of course, there are also stereotypes that usually works out for me. I also like eating, very much.
If not in Vilnius – where would you like to live?
DUsually these things don’t have anything to do with the architecture. Even though, I’m not travelling much but I found a few cities where I felt some kind of vibe. It might sound pathetic but it’s London. It feels like I could walk in that chaos and nobody will notice me. I also liked Amsterdam, Prague – I would say these three cities. I should mention that I’ve been to Moscow and I really felt like I belong there. It kind of freaked me out. I started thinking if there was something wrong with me, or city just wasn’t right, or something else, but I got really scared and I didn’t like that at all.
Talking about Vilnius, which places do you like the most? Apart from home, what other spots do you like?
Old town. Obviously, I like my suburb, I am loyal to Zirmunai, I feel good there but I like old town. All those restaurants, bars, theatres.
In three words, how would you describe your style?
I can describe it in two – very simple.
About what things you would never produce?
Need to think about this… I really wouldn’t like to make a movie that would be sexist or harassing someone. However, it appeared that we offended someone with our movie ‘The Saint’. However, I really don’t want to offend people, I think it’s very stupid. I don’t think there are many movies that has been made to offend someone. Although, you might disturb someone by accident without even meaning it.
Another thing that I wouldn’t do – create a movie with a very open sex scenes. I don’t like that at all.
How directors watch movies? Is it difficult to restrain?
It’s not difficult if a movie is good. If movie has been done unprofessionally and all those mistakes are easy to be seen then it is pretty annoying to watch. Sometimes it’s opposite, a very good shot might push you back and make you think ‘wow how they did this so well’.
Let’s get back to ‘The Saint’. It’s not a secret that ‘The Saint’ is the movie of the year. What does it mean to you?
It’s about “Sidabrinės gervės”(movie awards in Lithuania), yes? To be honest, it’s very pleasant because, in my opinion, it’s been over ten years since “Sidabrinės gervės” had so many good movies at the same time: ‘Together For Ever’, ‘Seneca’s Day’, ‘Emilia’, ‘Zero III’ … So, it was definitely unexpected to receive so many Cranes.
We read that you wanted to name movie ‘The Saint’ – ‘Crisis”. Why eventually you settled with the name ‘The Saint’?
There are a few various reasons. We always knew that the name ‘Crisis’ was temporary. We knew we were going to change it. First of all, it’s too straight forward. I think the movie name is good when it leads you but not directly. Secondly, the whole word crisis has such a negative shade. I looked into history, and all movies or TV series that were name ‘Crisis’ failed. It’s a funny aspect but there might be a bit of truth in it. Although, I’ve read a review that claimed that the name ‘Crisis’ would have been better. I don’t think so. I really knew that many people will think about this movie like a social drama. But it isn’t – later on some other things happen. ‘The Saint’ leads you to a different way, leaves space for your own interpretation.
How you came up with a name ‘The Saint’?
Very easy. We captured the movie and when we finished post production, we started to think about the name. The whole saint line kind of linked us to the name. It was like highlighting that line and searching for the guy, even it’s not super bright line but it is still important. I think even the main character is the saint. He’s not just a victim of the situation, he was like a lamb of god.
Don’t know if it’s true, but it is said that every director puts a little part of himself in every piece of work they make. Where are you in ‘The Saint’?
I think most of us has faced such things as a break-up. We all have been in uncomfortable situations. Another important aspect is – the life crisis theme (the versatile ones). Emptiness. I really wanted to talk about it, emptiness that everyone can feel. We live in such an era where it’s so easy to see it. Our movie has a lot of scenes about it: when Vytas goes to church and he sees how Maria is being repainted, and it’s completely a non-religious view; when they are buying discounted wine for the church; guy who said that he saw Jesus and it’s on YouTube, only two rascals watched it in some town. Nobody was interested in him. Then there was the church which was empty during the mass. Overall, we wanted to show a loss of values. I can see that, and that’s my input into this movie.
‘The Saint’ had a chance to go outside of Lithuania. What was the reaction of people from other countries?
Nobody ever criticises while you are there. But the reviews I found, were pretty good. Mainly I got the impression that they took movie as a good one. Obviously, festival audience is a bit different, they come to watch different movies. Talking about differences, I mainly felt it in South Korea. People were talking a lot about cinema language, technical things; maybe they were students or something like that. In west Europe, everyone was analysing social aspects and in east Europe – Poland, Lithuania, Latvia – reaction was mainly about humour.
For what type of viewers this movie has been created for?
I would say it’s for everyone. Although… whoever watched this movie thought that it’s definitely not for everybody. But it’s been made for everyone so they could have their own opinion. I really want for Lithuanians to start watching various movies, I would like them to stop thinking that if there’s no music in the movie – it’s bad; if shot is too long – it’s bad. I don’t want people to think that silent shot is wrong. To be honest, it’s interesting how even in real life people can’t stand silence, and cause of that we should create more silence. If we can’t be in silence neither in a movie nor in life, it means there’s something wrong with us.
After watching ‘The Saint’ some people said they wouldn’t like this movie to be shown overseas as it jibes the image of Lithuania. However, the official statistics shows that 30% of people in Lithuania lives close to poverty level. It’s a fact and it’s scary but sometimes people can’t or don’t want to watch what makes them to feel uncomfortable. Like our character Vytas – he doesn’t know how to communicate and that’s why things turned certain way.
So… what’s next?
The movie. Next character should be a woman. It won’t be a sequel but both movies will have something in common. ‘The Saint’ was about young man living in province, about love and crisis. So, next movie should be about young woman, in Vilnius, about love and liberty. And love will be connecting both of these movies. It will be interesting.
Story: Andrius Blaževičius
Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Facebook: The Saint / Šventasis