Cinema with a capital C: Melancholia by Lars von Trier

September 23, 2011

Lars von Trier doesn’t just make films. Doesn‘t just tell stories. Doesn’t just portray our reality. Lars makes masterpieces. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes, not really. With Melancholia, finally, he succeeds it again. In a simple way. Without high concept formulas such as two visual layers in Europa, thousands digital cameras capturing the tragic Dancer in the Dark, or Nicole Kidman crossing the [chalk] lines in Dogville. Melancholia is less transgressive – no one will cut the screen illusion with some provocative avant-garde form, cynical line or image.

But so what? Cinema isn’t necessary always about some formal or philosophical innovation (or, shall I say, ornamentation). Cinema has its own history and language; and actually art theoreticians are often left with nothing more but to be jealous of it. Cause good cinema, as well as good film criticism, is often inadequate in the view of Theory.

And thanks god for that.

Melancholia is adequate in the tradition of Cinema with a capital C. It’s inspired by Visconti (Visconti romantic, not Visconti neorealist – I’m a priori sick of all the fake neoneorealists), by Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice. Melancholia is adequate in the tradition of all the directors who believed in Cinema and who tried to make masterpieces – from Antonioni to early Godard. Times are changing (68; 89; 90; 2001), Theory is reacting, and so the notion of masterpiece is of course blurred. Yet I can hardly believe that our interest in Cinema’s heritage today is historical. If so, then we indeed are not cinephiles but art historians (it’s OK, just happens not to be my favorite profession). As the tagline of a website, run by two Italian cinephile comrades, says: „Cinema is not dead, we are”.

For me, Melancholia is a proof that „cinema is not dead“. Are we?

Justine (Kirsten Dunst) celebrates her wedding, but can’t escape her melancholy. She’s not amused nor by clumsy-yet-romantic toast of her groom, nor by a surprise rise from her employer, PR firm director, nor by non-conformist bitchying of her divorced mother (Charlotte Rampling): “marriage is scary, so run till you can” is her point. Justine doesn’t run, because her despise of hollow society’s rituals can’t be solved by revolting – she’s full of apathy and melancholia, she longs, she waits for a real catastrophe. And catastrophe let it be – the planet Melancholia will approach and demolish Earth. Mankind is doomed to death, just like that: so quick, so pathetic. With Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde Prelude off screen.

Yet to have a full story, Justine has a sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). She supports all those hollow rituals. It’s she who organized Justine’s wedding and tried to maintain their smiles all the way through it. It’s she who’ll crack up in the face of the catastrophe, because she’s sad to lose all her social life including her rich husband and cute son. She’s sad, not melancholic.

Melancholia is split in two parts, each concentrated on a different sister: Justine and Claire. Social, normal, polite life and its despise, oneness with nature (chaos) and death. The film turns around these two different sisters and their agendas, as if they were two different planets… So which one of them wins? In a way, neither one. There is no right answer in the face of death. And we all live in the face of it, though it might be less evident when we don’t see a huge planet approaching, dancing the death dance.

Thus Melancholia is the most pessimistic of Lars’ works. Often Lars von Trier would finish his pieces in paradox, pervert yet hopeful ways. Breaking the Waves has the bells ringing, which make the sadomasochistic heroine somehow nobler; Dogville fascinates by the macabre spectacle of the revenge. We remain shocked yet with a hope that in this absurd software of life, there might be some virus to transgress it: God, art, primitive morality. But there is no virus for the software of the end of the world. And Lars makes it specifically clear: Justine, who feels and knows things, mentions that the life is only on Earth; and not for long.

Yet the fact that life is absurd doesn’t mean humans won’t look for the meaning of it. Sure they will, thus all these hollow Claire’s rituals. It’s just that these rituals aren’t enough for melancholics. Cause when you always feel the approaching death, you need them bigger. You need Wagner. You need to lay down in the dew, naked. You need pathos. And you need Cinema with a capital C.


Berlinale adventures 2011

February 25, 2011

I am still tired and ill after Berlin Film Festival 2011, although it ended last week. Berlin is a restless city, but with Berlinale it becomes particularly crazy, fun and exhausting. Paris, where I’m back now to continue my studies, feels like a calm province after Berlin… Well maybe it actually is a calm province, heh.

Anyway, I’d like to share few of my experiences presenting my first professional short film, “Porno Melodrama”, at the Panorama section. Panorama, headed by Wieland Speck, is known for showing films of quite radical artistic forms but also, and maybe primarily, queer-themed films. So is “Porno Melodrama”, first Lithuanian gay film, challenging the homophobic “Protection of Minors” law, passed last year in Lithuania.

First of my impressions that I’d like to share is that Berlin Film Festival and it’s crew are incredibly open and friendly. All the people from the Panorama and Shorts offices that I met where accessible and helpful all the time I needed. The fact that these people encouraged me to continue and seemed honestly curious to see what I do next, remains the most inspiring moment of the festival.

Now about the screenings. The first screening was the one of the press, and so it was the most harsh. Directors don’t present their films at the press screenings, but I just went anyway to see the reaction. In this screening, my film was showed together with other queer shorts, and so mine was quite different – not only the longest, but somehow also the most far from realistic style, and, I guess, the most talkative too. I was really nervous seeing my film on that huge screen for the first time in my life. Few people chuckled at the end of the film, and so I was quite stressed: will it be laughable for all the viewers?..

The premiere, however, went in an entirely different way. Before the screening, I quoted “Protection of Minors” law, that considers information “which expresses contempt for family values, encourages the concept of entry into a marriage and creation of a family other than stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania” as having “a Detrimental Effect on the Development of Minors”, and also another law, which could be passed this year in Lithuania – it would ban “public promotion of homosexuality” by a fine of 2000 -10000 Lt (3,5 times less in euros). After quoting them, I told that Berlin Film Festival, as we all know, is political, and so I asked people to vote. Everyone raised their hands against these laws, and so I teared them up.

After the screening, I thanked my actress Vilma Kutavičiūtė, cinematographer Ville Piippo, associate producer Stephane Riethauser, production assistant Marija Šilkūnaitė, my brother, fund-raising parties “Porno Melody” organizer Martynas Zabarauskas and my mom. They were all here to support me, as well as my friends Justė Kostikovaitė, Gedvilė Bunikytė, Ieva Černiauskaitė and others, all contributed to the film as well.

And the screening went well, as well as two other screenings. No chuckling at all, everyone silent. And the most touching – some people that I don’t know at all came to me after screenings to tell that they liked it. I guess that’s as objective as it gets. Or even if it’s not, I’m calm now – it’s a good start.

Tell me your opinion when you’ll see the film!

Best regards,
Romas Zabarauskas

Photos by Joe Marçal

Porno Melodrama @ Berlin Film Festival 2011!

January 19, 2011

I’m more then happy to pronounce the happy news – we were accepted to Berlin Film Festival’s program Panorama!

Berlinale has a separate short film program, and Panorama shows the shorts only exceptionally. Well, one can see why this exception was made – Panorama loves controversial subjects with strong political content. And although “gay subject” doesn’t seem very controversial in Europe anymore, Lithuania is still trying… Actually, today European Parliament passed a resolution against state’s homophobia in my country, paying attention to different laws:

That was one of my aim as well – “Porno Melodrama”, as a first Lithuanian gay film, will challenge “Protection of minors” law, passed last year in Lithuania, who’s explicitly homophobic line was replaced by an order to “ban to spread information that would promote sexual relations or other conceptions of concluding a marriage or creating a family other than established in the Constitution or the Civil Code“.

But my film is not about that! My short film is a dramatic story about the dangers of love.

Jonas enjoys his living with his boyfriend Matas, but he wants to emigrate from homophobic Lithuania. In order to save money, Jonas accepts to star in a porno film with his ex-girlfriend Akvilė. But what if some unrequited love still linger in Akvilė’s heart?..

Let’s see each other in Berlin!

“Porno Melodrama”: we did it!

September 30, 2010

Good news – “Porno Melodrama”, first Lithuanian gay short, has been shot. I somehow find it much more difficult to speak about a work in process then before (or, I hope, after). Still, these are good news I want to share with you all: the film is shot, processed, transfered and being edited right now.

Take a look at some photos from the shoot!

“Porno Melody” goes Berlin and Eurovision

May 26, 2010

I’m proud to tell you the news – this Saturday I won’t be alone watching Eurovision Song Contest. “Schwuz”, a cozy gay club in Berlin, accepted to support my short film aginst homophobia in Lithuania, and invited us to a “Proxi club” party with DJ Tama Sumo, Gloria Viagra, Pomoz, Namosh.

Gloria Viagra already supported my film in Berlin Film Festival:

The club promised us 1 euro from each person (the entry is 5 euros)! We’ll invite people to donate for the film on place as well.

The good news is also that I’ll be there, just after finishing my exams in Paris, where I’m studying cinema. I’ll be in Berlin from 28/05 till 03/06, and will have my birthday at 31/05 (going twenty)!

I also decided not to use Internet the whole week, that’s why if you want to reach me for an interview, a date, or just a meeting, call me: +37061086027

See you in Berlin!

Porno Melody: “European Film College” and Kaunas

April 27, 2010

“Porno Melody” continues it’s way.

After successful start in capital Vilnius, series of parties supporting my short film “Porno Melodrama” will occupy two other places this weekend.

First is “European Film College”, a place for filmmakers from all over the world in Denmark. Directors Lars von Trear and Wim Wenders are few of EFC’s guest lecturers. I’d really love to come here for 8½ program as well, when I finish my studies in Paris.

The only problem is that about 110 students are almost isolated from the rest of the world, living and creating in small town of Ebeltoft. Nevertheless, I’m sure they know how to party… “Porno Melody” this Friday will invite up-coming filmmakers for glamour and glitter. Julian Bierring from NYC and Danish Lisa Jespersen will guarantee the heat. Many thanks to my friend EFC student Ieva Černiauskaitė for organizing this party!

Another “Porno Melody” will invite to Kaunas and it’s most hype bar “Suflerio Budelė” this Saturday. If you come to Kaunas, be sure not to miss this one. “Suflerio budelė” is also a coffee-shop in a theater, so many bohemians animated it before; now it sometimes serves monks from a near monastery at the day time and hipsters at night – often it’s the longest open place in Kaunas.

Check the program at our website:

Porno melody: this very Saturday

April 19, 2010

Ashes to ashes, don’t fly back to Dublin, London or anywhere, stay in LT and come to “Porno melody” @ Roller this very Saturday!

“Porno Melody” parties

April 14, 2010

Thanks to my brother and many other people, a series of parties supporting my short film against homophobia in Lithuania, “Porno Melodrama”, will start on 24 April in Vilnius, “Roller” club.

Martin Virgin, the lead of Lithuanian disco scene, will give us some heat:

I’m also really excited that dubstep maniac Mark Splinter accepted to give a special warmup to the party. No idea what could that be.

That’s what he usually does:

(the video is not perfect, sorry)

And there will be more: Endis VSG and Pikselis will perform in live; Dietrich, Elle Driver, Pioneriai djs, Tomas G. will mix. Fullscreen VJs and Gintare Sokelyte will give us some moving pictures, but you’ll also find one-night-expo by photographers Neringa Rekašiūtė, Marla Singer and Justinas Vilutis. More info: here.

BTW: photos will be forbidden. So forget FACEBOOK and get wild!

Tell me if you know someone willing to organize “Porno Melody” party in any other city in the world.

Let’s be friends!

March 5, 2010

I updated my website with “friends” section.

I include all the people who help me with the film (proof-reading, poster design, contacts…) as well as those who support our film with donations in my friends’ list:

While donating, you can leave a link to post me on this list. If, at the contrary, you want to remain anonymous, don’t forget to mention that.

/// Check the video reportage British magazine feature “Don’t Panic” made about my film in Berlin Film Festival:

Finally, our Paypal account is restored

March 3, 2010

Finally, our Paypal account is restored. Sorry for temporary problems!

Support “Porno Melodrama” here: