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Current-Time-Backed Film Mr. Landsbergis Takes Top Honors At IDFA

Vytautas Landsbergis, 79, former Lithuanian parliament president and leader of Soviet-era Lithuania's Sajudis independence movement, in a still from Sergei Loznitsa's Mr. Landsbergis

A documentary commissioned by Current Time about Lithuania’s first post-Soviet leader, Vytautas Landsbergis and his role in advancing the Baltic country’s Soviet-era campaign to regain its independence has received the Best Film Award at the 2021 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).

The award ranks as one of the documentary film industry’s top honors.

In its remarks for the November 25 prize ceremony, the IDFA jury called Mr. Landsbergis, shot by Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa and supported by the Lithuanian Cinema Foundation, a “monumental achievement that fully explores the role one man, one nation, and one historical moment can play in the still-unfolding story of the global struggle for freedom and self-determination.”

On December 20, Current Time will broadcast an abridged, television version of this four-hour-plus documentary on its Real Cinema program.

Watch a subtitled trailer of Mr. Landsbergis:

Using both the 89-year-old Landsbergis’ recollections and, in Loznitsa’s customary style, extensive archive footage, the movie tells the story of how Lithuania, during the reforms of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s, began its push to regain the independence it lost in 1940 to the Soviet Union.

On March 11, 1990, the small Baltic nation became the first Soviet republic to declare its independence from the USSR. Moscow did not soften its response.

The documentary, which contains “devastating footage” of Soviet troops’ January 1991 crackdown on Lithuanian independence supporters, provides a “ cinematic rebuttal to the popularly held view of Gorbachev as an imperfect but noble statesman,” the entertainment industry weekly Variety noted in a November 28 review.

Mr. Landsbergis is the latest in an ongoing collection of documentaries broadcast by Current Time that attempt to investigate the Soviet past objectively and address its ramifications for future generations.

The acclaimed 2020 documentary State Funeral, about the staging of the 1953 funeral of Soviet leader Josef Stalin, was the network’s most recent collaboration with Sergei Loznitsa.