10 / 10 / - 24 / 11 / 2000
Exhibition / Presentation
TransactionDiscussion on Films Session
Nomeda und Gediminas Urbonas (LT)
Filmlist + Synopsis
We used to watch Lithuanian movies only because they were Lithuanian, out of patriotism, but I don't recall that any of those movies were impressive. I do perfectly remember one movie by Larissa Shepitko that I watched when I was thirteen, and it left an impression. Watching Lithuanian movies was probably more related to that external aspect of life, which you would eventually consider to be a false and official presentation.
The only impressive movie was the one produced by R. Vabalas 'June the beginning of Summer' and in fact I think it was one of the best Lithuanian movies of all times, because it illustrated a provincial life and a saying by Lithuanians - 'nothing will change'. The plot features a small provincial town which is waiting for make-believe changes related to make-believe arrival of industry, but in fact the message is the inevitable changes in moral norms inherited from old Lithuania, and when a traditional moral starts decaying and being replaced by the Soviet mercantilism. So the movie was really impressive, because the atmosphere of the province is presented in a very subtle light when nothing is changing and at the same time everything is disintegrating.
There is a saying because there is a parable, which is being told by one character to another. I can't remember it word-by-word but there is a scene depicting a girl who visits a witch in order to find out about her future, and then a journalist comes to ask about it. The witch tells her 'Girl, it's going to be pretty bad.' 'What?' 'Will my parents die?' 'No, worse.' 'Will my man leave me?' 'No, worse' 'So what can there be worse?' 'Nothing will change'. So it also seems to me that this phrase 'Nothing will change' fits both Lithuanian cinematography and mentality. Nothing changed and cinematography tries to retrieve the artistic illusions of the past (which are no longer effective) while it totally ignores the present opportunities that surround us. Reality has always been eliminated in Lithuanian cinematography. Perhaps 'June - the Beginning of Summer' has made an impression on me because it reflected the reality and everyday life and what human life is made of, which is in fact not made of heroic deeds, but simply day-by-day life. And this was the actual scene. I think that Lithuanian cinematography is and used to be very misogynist, because in those movies the world belongs to men. It is not a coincidence that one scenario of alakevicius is called 'This World Belongs to Men. Women occupy a supplementary position, most often the background, and what is most interesting is that, taking for instance the first Lithuanian movie 'Maryte', about a heroine, although it was made according to the Soviet standards, about the Soviet Saints - this is what I call that kind of movies - it shows a condescending attitude toward a woman - we can find it in all Lithuanian movies - presented in one or another aspect.Maryte is killed, Maryte sacrifices her life in the name of an abstract motherland, abstract ideals.
And this is presented as the only true model, because she separated herself from everything - family, all other, let us suppose, 'human' values. Generally, 'woman' in Lithuanian cinematography is valued when she is able to deny personal ambitions and sacrifices her life in the name of her children, husbands, etc. Woman's life is not valued when her personal expression and identity are emphasized. Woman, seeking to realize her personal wishes is mostly presented as a negative character, an egoist and most importantly this is how she ruins men's lives. The ideal woman in Lithuanian cinematography is 'mother', who has the function of giving birth, educating children, etc. And this is one of the main images in Lithuanian cinematography I remember. On the other hand, there is a maid in white spotted chess, as a metaphor of perpetual 'womaness'. We can find a lot of Lithuanian movies where characters are small, naive girls, making their first steps toward adult life, facing the reality of the girl as a perpetual victim: finally, a criminal shoots a girl, who naively believed him to be a kind man, just like the girl, who think to be beautiful realized that she isn't beautiful and experiences life's bane. In the movie 'The Last Day of the Vacations' which is about the initiation of adult life, a girl assumes the role of a victim, because she can't make independent decisions, and it seems to me, it is very interesting, that in Lithuanian cinematography a girl is a model of an ideal woman. A girl, which still does not have her own feelings, her individual attitude toward things, in other words, the world, which belongs to men and which has to shape her, according to its laws, and for one it tells a lot, the 'metaphoricity' of a girlthis sentence is not beautiful.
"The Wings" was produced around 1967, so I couldn't have been older than 13-14. The character of that movie is an elderly woman who gives lectures at a professional school. During the war, she used to be a pilot. She can't adapt to the everyday home chores and the order. She feels a total loneliness in the surrounding world because she sets too rigid requirements and has painful memories of her unsuccessful love, ruined by war. But here, probably, it is not the plot that matters, but the feeling of being alien to the environment, and since I used to live in the far province, I also went through the same feeling of being alien. It is very strange that a 13-year-old girl can identify herself with an elderly woman from the environment and that torment is purely existential - in that movie - the impossibility to live. What have you mentioned about Brigit Bardot? Brigit Bardot used to be an ideal of all girls. In the beginning of the 70s it was an ideal of woman. She was everything, the type of woman/baby. No, but there were Czech, Polish magazines full of photos. There was the only movie - 'Barbette Goes to War'. Later, there were more movies. This shows that although there was a lack of movies, there used to be many sorts of moves. The Iron Curtain did not close us off so much from the rest of the world, because, for instance, in 1968, while listening to 'The Voice of America' I found out that the best selling book was 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. I found it in Russian translation and kept reading it without leaving my home and going to school and when I told my mother in the morning that 'I won't go anywhere before I'm done', she left me alone. So those who say that we were isolated are wrong.
Anyone could listen to 'The Voice of America'. So we knew everything, including the cinematography. It is also interesting, that there used to be articles on cinematography in Russian and Polish press, without any chances of seeing the movies. When I watch an old movie, I always want to see so much and the vision I have created by reading articles before seeing the actual movie the first time, I realize that presently it seems totally different - something changed, because in my memory it existed as a movie I had seen, since I conjured it up and thought it be seen in my dreams. But when I saw it, I was disappointed, because it seemed too simple compared to my expectations.This principle is possible to apply in reality, because we used to recreate it for ourselves and model the environment where we lived by laws of supposed reality and when finally all obstacles disappeared and everything became available, thus the reality turned out to be alien because we anticipated something different. These filters of reality are very interesting, because such phenomena as Homo Sovieticus exist elsewhere, except that it could be compared with French intellectuals who had conjured up the Soviet society in advance before encountering the mismatch of image and fantasy. I think that it is closely related to cinematography, because cinematography used to be the main factor in the development of esthetic and moral criteria.
This dual interaction with the reality is quite interesting. I have always wished to collect a series of Soviet movies, where Baltic actors played the roles of foreigners. We dream about the same thing. It tells so much about the world of Homo Sovieticus, its goals, illusions, desires, because in fact, foreigners were people we wanted to be. And what I especially like is that in those movies, Lithuanian actors playing the roles of foreigners, like Budraitis, always wear white pants, just like Ostapas Benderis, who dreamed about going to Rio de Janeiro and wearing a white suit. It is interesting: we used to be the most Western people among Easterners and now we seem to be the most Eastern people among Westerners. There is an outstanding branch and flirting with the character in one novel. This is an illustration of my statement that only innocent girls were accepted but in fact this is just a rumor of those days. Apparently the role of this girl was played by almost a 30-year-old mature woman, but she seemed young enough so she was admitted to play this role of this teenager. This shows what was sought in women - looks of youth's innocence and inexperience, ideality. At that time I used to live in the countryside while my cousins lived in Vilnius, big city and they would occasionally meet with contemporary elite. And this was one of the top events of those days, when some 30-year-old woman played a teenager and the whole Vilnius talked about it.
This myth of youth remains today because Lithuanian cinematography doesn't seek problems of mature women. Though teenager boys and girls and their love problems where illustrated, for instance Banionis, young Dapkunaite in a movie 'Confession of My Wife', Banionis' movie about a sanatorium of people sick with TB. So problems of mature women where not important in Lithuanian cinematography and one of the efforts to import those problems where showed in a movie with Staniliunaite and Filatovas in 'My Wives' Confession' by Grikevicius. It was imported because the Russian scenario was planted into Lithuanian soil. The movie was a total failure. Maybe it could be successful nowadays, but then it was rejected by all layers of society. The love triangle 'she - her husband - her lover'. For the first time in Lithuanian cinematography it was tried to get deeper into psychological language of the love triangle. But it was an evident failure because it was clearly seen that Lithuanian cinematography didn't try to take a serious look at this issue. So it was the only time when Lithuanian cinematography focused on mature woman's life needs, needs to be loved and accepted, noticed, which wasn't characteristic of Lithuanian cinematography earlier, that's why it finished unsuccessfully. Maybe we have missed something? In Janonis' production woman sacrifices her life, the same as in 'Ave Vita', 'Feelings'. The woman Agne, who wants to gain something independently, she is simply the worst villain. In 'Men's Summer' Mainelyte, an actress from womanish cinematography is a silly blond beauty - the most acceptable image of woman in Lithuanian cinematography, who also becomes a victim of circumstances, totally dependent of men's' world, which manipulates her in any desired way. So both sides, from the beginning till the end, deceive her. The image of silly blonde came from Hollywood, that bloody humbleness, a woman giving in to her passions, the reason why she is later punished. Any giving in to one's passions is condemned.
'Stone on Stone' is a movie where Plekyte is whipped for the joy of the whole Lithuanian audience. It was the only and the purest breakout of sado-masochism in Lithuanian cinematography, because it shows the 19-th century. Plekyte confronts the Czarists rule and is therefore punished - whipped. So actually everyone who remembers that movie recalls the only scene, when a beautiful, independent woman is whipped. 'Herkus Mantas' is a very decorative movie and thus hard to comment on, 'Devil's Bride' features several types of characters: a silly beautiful blonde, bad woman, punished for her passions - the embodiment of evil and woman sacrificing her life for the man's world. And of course, the most positive image is the sacrificing woman and that girl, who can be shaped in any way, who makes steps toward adult life. And those situations in Lithuanian cinematography arise because of inability to cope with the reality. The reality is so unacceptable and frightening and thus the producers choose the heroes, who are entering the adult life, those who can be identified most easily and at the same time to separate from the reality and thus Lithuanian cinematography has always featured kids, teenagers, entering the adult life. Those were the poetic Lithuanian movies. And now the producers explain it as an effort to avoid creating pro-Soviet movies, but I think it is just a cover up, because others were doing it and fixing the reality. The film features a mature woman, but in fact it's about two men - father and son, fighting for the same woman. But the story of the woman is overshadowed by men's stories, traumas. In 'The Road to Paradise' the actress Gabrenaite features a woman who eats up the life of a decent, indecisive man. The same is everywhere.
In 'The Eternal Light', a woman gives in to her passions, which makes suffer a few men. This woman is not understood, strange and desiring more than the world can give her and therefore she is doomed to loose, die, become insane. And these are scenarios of Lithuanian women. There are mostly women who are killed, who commit suicides, etc. Enough. For instance, in 'Fall Comes Through Forests' where Mikelionyte or Saboniene is a typical Lithuanian woman, while another woman - Varmontaite is a villain - she is independent, she has evil plots. Generally if Lithuanian producers try to feature a woman who is different, then she is showed as an artist, as in 'Day of Fish' or as an insane person, like in 'Eternal Light' 'And He Told Her Good Bye'. Any other wish to be one's self cannot be made meaningful in art. I'm saying it so because as I see you want me to highlight and simplify things. If cinematography is discussed one cannot even think about it, because it is understood, it is a misogynic society. I mentioned only old movies, but in the last decade, movies 'Necklace of Wolf's Teeth' by Puipa. Everything is naturally made strange there, because it's the world of an artist, but the archetype of woman remains the same - negative, she needs love, passions, she leaves her child or in 'Moon's Lithuania' by Lukas, the main character is the saint corrupt woman. That's it. Ok.
I'm currently the Controller of Equal Rights for women and men. I was appointed to this position by Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. What helped me to decide? I think that special influence came from distribution of the experience in the East, that we used to have, or the West - could not define it and because I wish that all of my nature, all my character, self perception was shaped in our country, i.e. Lithuania. My mother and father were totally equal both - in the family and in the society - they both had good jobs with their own salaries, both were equally respected people, both were sports people. Both of them achieved much, both played their roles in social life. Such was my own understanding within the family. School and university gave me a different experience, because I was then studying in The Faculty of Law, which had a very small number of female students - there were about five girls in our group yet we didn't have any feeling that we were not as good as male students or less capable in this sphere.
The work experience was also of special importance, because I started my career from interrogation, i.e. work for the State Militia, where I investigated criminal cases, and therefore, even though I was very young, I understood, that my responsibility both - for a individual and for human rights was enormous. As well, that I don't have a right to take a decision that could hurt an individual's honesty or dignity - personal life of many people depends on me. When I was offered my current position, I understood that perhaps it is new and interesting, and that is a new sphere at least to me, but on the other hand this sphere is essentially related to human rights and protection of them which is even more interesting. By mainly realizing a personal experience, gained from the family, from school and university period it can be shown, that the woman and man in their lives can do something valuable - when they are equal partners, and when none of them claims superiority of being a man or a woman. I think that we should be partners, we should have a strong hand of a colleague-male or female-female, also a hand of a friend for life, a hand that could help one recover from a difficult situation and pursue this life. My personal understanding, however, has been related to personal experience and I was influenced by intensive sports activity - diving. It is a sports branch which is quite individual, but at the same time you must feel a strong support from your team and that is interesting, because contests are divided into women and men contests, but whenever we participated in large matches and the ones who dived were us - girls, we could always feel the support from our team's boys and men. Even at times, when they brought us a chocolate bar - because you must recover from exhaustion - or gave us their own wool socks, or their own dry towel for a more comfortable feeling needed to achieve better results for the whole team. Yet the perception of feminist ideas didn't give me a special impulse to my understanding of my own ideas, as the most important aspects of life had been experienced.
I can't remember any factor, any injury, any concrete event, which has touched, changed me or something like that. I think that it is certainly related with the entire life story, my person, history of my family, for instance. I was raised by my mother who was lonely. So to say that father existed, though practically not. My parents were divorced and I only remember my mother. I remember that's all my life. I remember an extremely strong, fantastic woman. The person in fact lived in a different epoch and of course, she was submerged somewhat into ignorance, the quagmire of Soviet life and she had to live in it somehow. She was a post-graduate student, a woman who created her own life out of nothing. No one ever helped her, and she didn't have any basis. When I was a teenager of course I revolted against my mother and I considered her to be my enemy, I resisted her greatly. And then some years passed by, I reached 26, though I don't want to say, I feel that I'm becoming a copy of my mother, but in a way, those lessons and words remained in me. Words I heard in my childhood, about how I have to live, work methodically, keep to discipline and how seriously matters should be treated. Now I simply feel how it is all activated in me after many years.
I was a teenager, then a young lady, a student, someone else, but all these stages are gone somewhere, I used to be someone else. But now that I became a grown-up person and I have created my own place in the world, I realize that all those lessons, those words materialise in reality. This is very odd. That's it about my family. I have always felt certain potential in me, and often I'm behaving differently than other girls. The feeling of my dignity is very strong and that it motivates actions and my interaction with another sex and makes me reach certain very hard compromises. And while you don't have a certain backup, a certain information, which could make your motives look rational and clear, as long as you're only making intuitive guesses, it is very hard. You feel in a way broken. The way of my female self-perception is an academic way and first of all - love toward texts, which I felt at once, and so to say, that love story goes on. Really, some 5-6 years ago I wouldn't have thought, let alone imagine that it will all turn out like this. In the last years I see much of somewhat activity, womanly energy. This gives results. In 1991 I had the chance to personally participate in some project of a young producer - Andrius Juzenas, based on a short story of a Latin American novelist. It had some mystical meanings, it was a very special novel: an old woman manages to do impossible things, create herself anew, create herself as a young person and live through certain fatal scenarios, which newly marks her life. That movie, 'The Killed Person' was shown on television the other day. And I played the role of that woman.
To me that movie offered more of a spiritual meaning, a herald of whatever would happen to me later on afterwards, meaning the way of self-perception. It can also be interpreted: do impossible things, resist the world, assert one's self, create one's self by the model of one's self. Perhaps it's only done by a few women in Lithuania. These days many women do it all around the world, but this is just the beginning. That movie had many erotic episodes, of course, everything was spiritualized, not vulgar by any means and so on, but I was 17 years old and it was a really big challenge to me. But it wasn't really vulgar, it was extremely artistic and woven into a work of spiritual meanings. And that creativity, display of the body was free of any possible pornographic nuances. I would like to have that movie. Because it's a reminder. An interesting movie, interesting to watch. My generation, when I was a teenager, these were the days of the Independence Movement Organization. That Lithuanian cinematography was considered to be Soviet cinematography and all that culture didn't have any influence. There was a burst of interest into Western music and those cultural influences. I used to be a punk then, hanging around a cafÈ 'Vaiva'. In those years of our development the influence of Lithuanian cinema as culture was reduced, meaning there was no identification with that. Should I have been an adult, or born 10 years ealier, I think I would have watched those movies in a different way, and overall my relationship would have been totally different. After all, I would have matured those days, gained a somewhat way of observation. And now it's not.
In fact, cinema has always been created by man and the main role, both literally and figuratively, has been reserved for men. Cinema was indeed a man's thing. Vytautas Zalakevicius is one such artist, who has written "A world that belongs to men". Woman is regarded from the Soviet ideological point of view as someone who can dig ditches, drive a tractor or, at her best, fly to the outer space. These abilities, it is understood, must emphasise the level of her competence, as the maternal function still remains the basis of the feminine identity. In short, she has to grow children and dig ditches as a socially favourable expression of human dignity. When it comes to such image of a woman I am not sure how our society sees the function of a woman in the society. I am unwilling to jump to conclusions, I think that the conflict of Vingiu Jonas and Katre which was introduced by Zemaite [in 19th century] is still going on and Vingiu Jonas reflects society's attitude to the woman of the Zemaite's time and present days. The scripts women received in the cinema in fact reflected the roles they were playing in social life. One of such roles - woman as family hearth preserver. Another prominent type - a sinful seducer. The most inconceivable type in our society is of an intelligent woman, such role is in essence unacceptable.
<...> however, there was an exception - let us remember the film "Ave Vita". A woman is writing a screenplay and trying to establish her relation with the past, with her father. She is the intellectual engine of the film itself and mediator between the men of different ages. However something went wrong there, and she was a lifeless, emotion-deprived puppet spokesman of the director's ideas, not a full-blooded female soul. In "Saduto Tuto", for instance, a woman wants to be something more than a decoration of her husband, something more than just a teacher, just a wife and a mother. It is necessary to emphasise that the film does not state what exactly the wishes were, because it was not the function of it. Just the fact of striving for something more was hinted at. Then there appeared the mutinous Daiva Stubraite in A.Puipa's "Zuvies diena", as well as the characters of Jurate Onaityte, especially the film "Moteris ir keturi jos vyrai" ("A Woman and Her Four Men"). The title tells it all, I think. A woman marries into the fisherman's family, marries her husband's brother as her man disappears without a trace, grows the children that were born to both brothers and refuses to abandon the family. I am returning to the statement that films simply do not answer the question "what does she want?". Probably the question is not formulated by the screenplay writer or the person behind the camera. I don't know the reason for this, I don't think it could be explained primitively stating that the attitude our society has towards woman is a negative one. I think the society does not want to understand itself. If it did, the question of woman would naturally rise, it would come up Women either understood that it was not worthwhile striving for more serious rights, and I mean not just voting rights or a right to dig ditches or fly to space but to exist as an equal human being who is just as important and respectable or they were judged according to prejudices: if she is pretty, she is stupid, if clever, she is of course unpretty; if she is not married, she is not happy, if married, probably it is bitter happiness, she is subject to humiliations and abuse Be as it may, the conclusions that society makes of women reflect the level of inner elegance of the society, the level of the elegance of relationships. In the countries with longer traditions of feminist thought, women are in general psychologically better off than in Lithuania. They probably very rarely encounter the syndrome of "vingiujonism" - which I see as a bedrock of our attitude towards women. This bedrock should be shifted but so far it hardly moved. This problem is not confined to cinema, if we consider it more closely we would find it relevant in the society and in arts. Because a woman cannot be presented free in arts if she is not free in the society's eyes, if the society does not want her free and attributes her quite different functions.
<....> Russians have always had good actors, both men and women, but they searched for different kind of face and found Lithuanian faces which were in demand since they looked closer to Germanic types - Masiulis has created countless number of German Officer characters. The face of Pleskyte was aristocratic one. It was her type, she could not do the role of the director of Kolchoz. Our films fail to communicate what exactly this time and space should be, I cannot find notions of this space in our novels or in other works of art. Probably this is not just a problem of cinema. <...> I don't know if Russian actresses are more optimistic as they used to shout from the screen "I am an orphan, unmarried.." They were not afraid of showing their feelings. Certainly, Zemaite's Katre did shout out too. She asked for forgiveness for wanting something more than life had in stock for her. These characters express the eternal wish for happiness, their destinies show how difficult it is to fulfil this wish. I would not call these characters optimistic, rather they are dramatic and dramatism is always most revealing of human nature. Our women, in short, are not needed in our cinema, of course, there is their beauty , and we have quietly come to terms with their existence. But the function and the desirability of a woman is strictly determined by men according to the ethos that is blown about in the streets, the worldview that is written on our unsmiling faces.
This problem is not a very sensitive one, I just would like to hear more women discussing it. Many women refuse to speak up either because they have lost any hope, interest or they are afraid, because the increased load of responsibilities an opportunities provided by the constitution has probably made them indifferent. I am speaking about the middle woman of these times, because not all are active and daring enough to boast their superior knowledge in TV show "Korida". Although this type of female is not particularly appealing to me one must acknowledge that it is necessary. People must try to get their message through to each other and this is the point where we often fail. The society is closed, neither in nor out of the discussion. In fact, I think the question what is the woman of today is not yet formulated. For instance, women who are cursing men and grumbling about having nothing nice to wear are termed "feminists". Such understanding and evaluation of feminism is the manifestation of the above mentioned "vingiujonism" (male chauvinism), which changed little from the times of Zemaite as the attitude to woman remains more or less the same.
Another issue which is not yet perceived by our women - they do not consider themselves as parts of the whole. If all the women supported each other, everything would be achieved much easier and faster, including the case at elections. Just look how many women say: "No, I will never vote for a woman. I will vote for anyone, but a woman."
I think that I have two opinions about Lithuanian cinematography and both of them have developed in my childhood. I could only be thankful to my childhood that I saw Lithuanian movies. I have never watched a single Lithuanian movie on my own will. But it happened so, that in the early days, when someone could make me do things, I was forced to see two Lithuanian movies. The first was 'Herkus Mantas' and the second - 'No One Wanted to Die'. I consider them to be the best movies that I've ever seen. So, now that I'm an adult and no one can make me watch Lithuanian movies, I do not watch them and the result is negative, perhaps because I'm an adult.The first unreal and beautiful image of woman was played by Eugenija Plekyte in the movie 'Herkus Mantas'. Being a child, I thought that there are certainly no such women around me. I used to live in a small provincial town in the beginning of the 70s, where I only saw fattish and exhausted Soviet women, so I understand now that Eugenija Plekyte is the woman that has never existed in Lithuania. Let me return to my childhood, when I was made to watch those several movies.
My uncle, who had been deported to Siberia and spent there quite a long time, finally came back to Lithuania. Upon his returning this movie was being shown. It happened that once he bought me some oranges and - I was 8-9 years old then - asked, whether I wanted to go to the movies. I thought maybe it could be 'The American Tragedy', so I said 'Yes' and went with him. But then I realized that they showed something else. I was overwhelmed by this ill mood that always comes watching Lithuanian movies. I had never actually watched them, I would simply turn off the TV, but that was a movie theater. So I was forced to sit and watch that horrible movie. But upon having seen it I always remembered the name of alakevicius, the whole of my life, though I was only nine years old. In the following years and being a teenager, when someone would ask me: 'What Lithuanian artists do you know?' - I would always say the name of alakevicius. So I think it is an extraordinary movie. However, all Lithuanian movies have this characteristic, that you can only watch them if you're forced to. RIMA personal When, after school, I went to study in Pedagogic University, Lithuania was already independent. At the time I was maturing and forming my notions of life and understanding [of .] came naturally, perhaps because I had no brothers or sisters, and never had to share roles with anybody. My father used to scrub floors and wash up. And my husband took it very naturally too - because in his parents family everybody did everything as well. At work my colleges were mostly men. When I went to do my PhD, women understood me best of all. Men just ignored me, never took me seriously... Only after 2 - 3 years, when the results became visible, could I talk about my research with my colleagues, without them sneering at my work.
on sister For the last half a year my sister lived in Germany. She received a scholarship and analyzed a Lithuanian manuscript in a library. And because the scholarship was quite substantial, during her stay in Germany she married a young local intellectual. So therefore I'm telling her: you are the first and a historical Lithuanian woman, who left a post-Communist country, received a scholarship, enough for supporting a man, that is, a husband who is a German. Meanwhile, here it is understood, that the whole situation should be somewhat reversed. If you marry a German, then he supports your relatives, etc.. Therefore in this sense no one from Lithuania can understand my sister. On the other hand, if she is a woman, she must also be a mother. Mother's rights are somehow protected, their job positions are preserved and motherhood benefits are paid. For instance, in our PhD department, through the whole five year period of my studies, almost all the women gave birth to their first or second children, received additional scholarships for one year. However, there is no discussion going on about cases when women do not wish to have all these babies. They are more interested in working and therefore they are discriminated from these mothers' point of view, because why don't I receive a scholarship - I didn't consciously gave birth to a child because I wanted to do my job and I didn't want to waste my time with such issues as motherhood in this period of my life. Maybe some day I will have another baby, because I already have one. In other words, women that are not mothers are strongly discriminated.
1 We grew up in a family with a totally matriarchal rule and therefore since our childhood we didn't know this problem, a somewhat tension between men and women, their relationship. Patriarchal order was totally unknown to us. And in fact teachers at school were women, everything used to be purely feminine. We didn't feel any suppression, discrimination or something similar. My first encounter with these problems was through social sphere and professional matters. The encounter was very specific, because I've written some critical articles about applied Lithuanian art, about somewhat works or something else. I received some anonymous letters, that included curse words and addressed somewhat sexual problems. I don't clearly remember, whether it complained about too much sex or too little of it. And so it was the first time this issue came up to me. Later on, while reading such thoughts I saw, that this is actually how it is. Men's consciousness cannot separate sexuality from the self-expression of a woman, her artistic or humanities-oriented expression, including other spheres. It wouldn't be so bad if this sexuality was positive, yet in all cases it is negative. There is a division line between a frigid women and perpetually dissatisfied nymphomaniac. And where is a positive case? This could be in a family - a mother, children's tutor, faithful wife of a husband. But this is not a womanhood, these are just archaic visions that have nothing in common with a working woman, artistic woman. I have read in some book, that it is true, that all the Western Culture with its theoretic sphere and its separation from life and material sphere and even strategy of separation of sign's meaning, that is practically a covering of masculine lust, in Lithuania I would call it even a covering of masculine impotence. And that's why it gains more rigid shapes. These elderly men are always trying to maintain their positions and they mostly hate young and clever women. Their hate is so strong, that sometimes they write articles one could send to Strasbourg and take a legal action, because they exceed all the limits in those articles.
So, can I start now? It seems to me, that film was close to me the whole of my childhood. At least as far as I remember, that cultural educational, a part of mine was related to film, this was one of the most attractive things in my life, at least this was my association of cinematography. My favorite movie was probably "No One Wanted to Die", which presently is commented very controversially, but I take it is as it comes. It was the picture of those times, a nice Soviet 'western' movie, regardless of all political nuances, causing those discussions of today. I especially used to like Vytautas alakevicius. I've seen all of his movies, including 'I'm Sorry', etc. I tried to watch all production of alakevicius. I also remember a movie called "Beauty", probably just like all people of our generation. This is the movie, which was always showed on the school holidays, and thus it is associated with holidays, just like 'Adventures of the Spy Kalis'. Well, out of those movies, which make me want to sit and watch, and watch them all over, there are of course 'Feelings', 'Devil's Bride' and 'Nut Bread'. Well, a special mark on me was left by "Herkus Mantas", even though I'm not the fan of historical movies, but I've always dreamed, that if I were an actress, I would like to act in costume-movies, and perhaps that's why that movie was so attractive to me. Of course, I won't be naive and I won't lie, we grew up with Belmondo, who has up till now remained the same actor, in a positive sense. That is the French cinematography and I can say, that the foreign movie first of all to me is associated with the French cinematography. I was not influenced by that patriarchal perspective in cinematography and television, I was not able to incorporate it in my personal life, I just watched with a certain distance. I still am the child of the sidewalk, I need community, I need people. I may go to the countryside, but these are momentary things, when I can look at the grass or a grasshopper, I need activity.
Of course, it left some mark on my brain, because we were shaped during that period, but we managed to change the orientation quite fast. Perhaps we are that generation which has managed to promptly take over novelties. The more so, our consciousness and spirit are damaged, well, we grew up surrounded by lie, but we were real. And that feeling of reality still remains, we are able to see lies better nowadays than we used to. Now I accept that time and that period, this ought to have happened. I'm not interpreting and I'm not saying that it used to be bad and now it's good. It is what it is. I'm not trying to live in my past. I take it as an art, what was created at that time and I'm trying to notice whatever is beyond historic circumstances and has historic value as an expression of art. I don't know, the present generation, which is twenty years younger than us, I will be sorry if they aren't able to accept all that, because it's history, and all political discussions after 'No One Wanted to Die', they are full of grandeur, such a range from top to bottom. I think I've managed to get rid of many things since that period. Cinematography is generally a mannish work. But I can't deny, that there are bad female producers or actresses. The woman being shown in those days was the picture they saw. I don't know. I think, that things are better than they used to be pictured.
Those women in fact are able to seduce at such level, that no men are able of. That's why I'm so fascinated with the woman, because she is able to seduce anytime, anyone - be it a Communist or a Fascist, or a somewhat dissident. And that feature of women to me seems one of the most beautiful, something what men don't have. Maybe men create movies on it because they can't manage to do that by themselves. Why was there a myth saying that Lithuania is a foreign country - I don't know. Perhaps those actors matched a specially designed model of foreigner. Or maybe they simply started feeling, that those actors can represent the Soviet Union, since in fact they had a spotless appearance, and besides they were good actors. Maybe Russians did not have such noble actors as Adomaitis and Budraitis. In a certain way we are similar to Germans - pedantic, orderly. I don't know, perhaps because when Germans stayed in our country, we found them fascinating. You can ask any old lady. My grandmother has always been fascinated with Germans. She used to say that she never saw an enemy in them. They were well mannered, orderly. It's an important criterion of evaluation for a woman, when a man is orderly, decent, well mannered and generous. A true German. Well, I don't know whether Germans are still that generous nowadays...
interviu "Housewife's Kitchen", I don't remember the title of the article - perhaps "Housewife's Afternoon", published a presentation where a housewife herself speaks: "If you want, that your husband, after a hard day's work would be happy, then, ... if you want, that your husband and so on "bhla bhla bhla", in general, this "Housewife's Kitchen" is meant only for women, who think that their husbands never cook and don't want to make a dinner for their wifes when they finish their jobs, etc. I'm looking at my mother. She was ready to enter a university so she did, but something went wrong, then she transferred to the extramural studies so she kept studying there but she decided to quit after a year. Therefore, she never graduated from a university and she is sorry about it now. There is number of such women, who didn't go to universities because in the Soviet times there were no such a duty and need, although there were even more possibilities to find one's position in life even without it. I truly do not envy those women, who don't have a college/university education these days, because secretaries and all the others must not be older than thirty years age, even though they can have two degrees. I find it difficult to imagine, because I perceive myself as a personality and I didn't live in the Soviet times so I can only speak from different people's memories or bits of memories of myself. It less depends from a tradition and more from today's economy. It's complex thing to do anything if one has no money. Those soviet people they have a different view of life and seek for a different values from those people want today. They face the hopless situation, resign and make no effort.
I've lived in Norway for one year and much as I wanted to observe the relationship between women and men - there were none at all. Women have an attitude towards men and women relationship. A male in Norway has been considered a reproductor for decades. Women find it financially better to live alone with a child, because in that case the state support is guaranteed before a child is eighteen years old. Whereas men in Norway - publicly or in the academic life have no voice. If a woman says, a man can agree or not, but he no longer dares taking initiative. In the Western Europe, take Germany for instance, everything is taking a similar direction. The academic world's current priority oriented towards women. And if there is a competition for a job position, a woman is invited for an interview prior a man and she is given a priority. And if such a competition is practiced, almost everyone can be sure that the position will be occupied by a woman. Those countries have already passed the phase which is currently implemented in Lithuania, i.e. when I must prove who I am. In those countries everything is clear: I don't have to prove that I am cleverer than a man. We can be equally clever, but the job position will be taken by me. Lithuania is gradually approaching such a level, but it seems to me, that everything will have a Scandinavian pattern - from one extreme - from patriarchal academic society - it will all be 100 percent turned to matriarchal society, when men will be treated the same way as they used to treat me. In other words, the periods of tolerance will come in about 50 years.
interviu I had never thought, that I could be influenced by propaganda. Once I took a private trip to Canada to visit my relatives. When I reached the place, there were just few things that surprised me for I had received different information and I had shaped a true vision about the capitalist reality, as it used to be called. In fact, my knowledge was not too far from reality. Neither living conditions, nor people's relations surprised me. I was only surprised by two facts. First - I had an impression that upon my arrival to Canada I would face smog, high environment pollution. But when I saw Canada's achievements in environmental protection, I understood that propaganda had a great influence, especially its indirect form. The second surprise to me was the fact that whenever I went I saw numbers of disabled people. I kept asking why they had so many disabled people. This was the second reason. Because of propaganda it was not possible for us to see disabled people in Lithuania, whereas we may have even more of them than elsewhere. Therefore I say that indirect and hidden ideological propaganda has a greater influence upon people, even those proud of their independent way of thinking. The same was with films and feminism, relations between men and women. It seemed impossible that such relations could ever exist. In the Soviet regime woman never left the family. It was not important, whether she worked or not, but when the state addressed all family issues it only referred to women - men were eliminated from the family. Laws - motherhood benefits - were only addressed to woman. All the kindergarten issues, all the household chores were addressed to woman, and therefore she would never leave the family. And so what left was to bring men back to families, although, not everyone is willing to do that. I had my own personal experience acquired outside household - we did not have such problems in the household, but work environment. In fact, such problems were numerous. In the beginning I thought these were my personal problems, so I never looked at it systematically, maybe due to the fact that I majored in physics. Later on I became a self-taught sociologist. It coincided with changing of my job and scientific research. They were not related specifically to women. In the meantime I was working for the Baltic research project, which was based in a sociology lab at the university, so we started to conduct research that had previously been prohibited. It provided an immensity of interesting material. We decided to select specific issues and everyone picked up whatever was interesting for them. I chose family issues. Factually it was the beginning of the whole story, the time when I started to analyse the results: people's attitudes and factual data about men and women, taking examples from families. I was shocked because of the out-dated attitudes. The research showed the picture of the whole life. Then I started to get deeper into those problems, because up to that point it seemed to me that I had problems, my job colleagues had problems, maybe more acute than elsewhere. When I was transferred from the Faculty of Physics to the then-called Faculty of History the environment changed remarkably. Once, when I spoke on those issues over the radio, my former job colleagues - physicists took offense and said that "we used to love you so much but you slandered us", yet the relationship had not been as good as one could expect. At a personal level everything seemed to be all right, but out of any professional environment of the academic sphere, there is no worse discrimination than that among physicists. We did get along, we were great friends, but on the professional level women were not respected at all. Women were not even expected to be serious specialists, etc.
interviu I think that even though during the Soviet period the equality was of pseudo nature, yet it was not so very bad, in the sense that formally it instigated some equality, the minimum ambitions not to become a housewife. I think that women could easily get a university/college education, whereas in the West the proportion of women with a university degree took great pains to achieve it. In the early 70s the situation was equalized. It seemed that in Lithuania it should naturally be with no big efforts. Therefore I think that Soviet period used to have some advantages. Some. On the other hand, to me personally the fact of motherhood was very important. I assume that the situation I went through can be medically explained as depression. Just because it was long ago and no one spoke about it and I learned something about feminism, I had to search a possible situation of motherhood to find out that all mothers are good whereas I am bad, that all mothers after discovering about their being pregnant are very happy, and they are even happier after bearing a child, whereas for some reason I am not. Well, I have read about feminism, I have read about a feminist research of motherhood just for the sake of self-justification. On the other hand, I find it interesting and therefore so far I have been a complicated girl with certain problems, people would find it strange that I could feel it all the time. Then, all of a sudden, when everyone found out that she is a feminist, a term is created in early 90s, everyone starts feeling better, as if someone put it in its right place. My relationship to it is a little better, since people's reaction to me is more positive. And I feel it.
interviu In my teens, when I started an independent formation of my self, I was fascinated with the Russian actress Liudmila Gurchenko. Once we were supposed to write an essay about our ideals for the school home assignment. I decided that L.Gurchenko would be suitable for that. I was not so much impressed by the appearance of the actress, nor did the talent seem so very important and though it was evidently great, but I really liked the roles, performed by the actress. They were always very femini ne, i.e. having a whole array of characteristics. The heroes, performed by L.Gurchenko used to be very temperamental, dramatic, stern, sensitive, playful, often good companions. I remembered a scene from a movie, perhaps called "Sibiriada". A small group of women celebrated New Year. Hopeless, tearful scene - one man had died, another had no longer been writing letters, and the women themselves lived in cold and hunger. But the character of L.Gurchenko, brushed away her tears and did not let cry on the New Year Eve. She forced to forget the pain for a moment and enjoy the only holiday night. The characteristics of the heroes seem to be quite different, depending on movies: "Five Evenings", "20 Days Without a War", "Loving Woman of Mechanic Gavrilov",etc. But they all are so deep, full of pain, hidden in laughing and silence. It seemed to me then, that the actress behaves the same way in her real life. Maybe it was not so important, whether my ideal was shaped by a real person, or a movie character. As a matter of fact, in my childhood I was charmed by flights to the space and I had a dream to become a second woman flying to the space. I never put any effort in that. When there was another woman who followed Tereshkova and flew to the space, I abandoned this secret idea.
I do not wish that feminism in Lithuania would grow into something I see happening in Scandinavia. It may be a wrong impression, but from my journey to Norway I clearly remember a funny situation. In cafes or just any places, young men talking to young women no longer flirt by playing with eyes. In Vilnius you can feel that you are a woman, and man is man and I need this play between two sexes, the flirt that I missed so much. And I thought that if it is a result, an aftermath of feminism, then I do not want it to be like this. It would be fun for me to have equal rights, but I do not want to lose feminine privileges.
interviu If we take this perspective, we are all actors and actresses of certain scenarios. And life of any of us has a scenario. Sometimes we just don't know it, and this awareness of the fact that we start according to a scenario and finish according to a scenario. Another possibility I should say is a spontaneous effort of a person, an effort that emerges from one's nature. Sometimes nature painfully prevents you from achieving what is given to you, what is predetermined. And it leads you somewhere else. The same often happens to women, even somewhat more painfully than to men, because of many reasons that presently are clear to many of us, due to both - the scenario and the artistic direction, which is essentially a manly profession. I suddenly remembered an elderly Russian movie director Larisa epitko that comes from my generation. Once she received a word of appreciation for, I don't remember what movie, an appreciation that praised her manly way of work. Her remarkably witty commentary to it was, by the way, it was in 1970, "if I work in a manly way, then there is no sense in doing that and living like that, because men can achieve it much easier".
I remember Larisa Epitko as an outstanding movement forward, but if you wish to somehow understand this movement, then you must prepare your consciousness for that. If there is a reason for something to grow on earth, a surface of soil must be at least scratched. Strange as it may sound, but I received this impulse of feminist problems from emaite. She wrote a sad irony called "Happiness of become one's wife", and then, in her letter to Viinskis she sighed. Once I thought, that behind this irony there is an unwritten text. emaite in fact was acting according to a regular scenario: she watches those unhappy women, their lives, truly, such unfulfilled, full of pain and it is evident that behind this text there hides an unwritten text. Whatever she predicts and sees, but life is somewhat unfairly constructed and there is a lack of important meanings in that life. As a matter of fact, these are feminine meanings and oftentimes they are unreadable or are read in a wrong way. What is more interesting is that it was enough for emaite to visit the United States during the First World War and meet with educated women, full of feminist ideas to understand what they speak about. She quickly became interested in it and why? In Lithuanian movies the history of women is read in a distorted way, I would say that it is being viewed from only one perspective. I believe, that bigots are our first independent women. They were not burdened by worries: family, job, home They could somehow have a privilege of freedom. Although I should say I never wish to satisfy existing theory or language. In my head there is a tension between myself and other theory. All I need comes from authenticity, not from what one borrow or imitate.
Some nation did not have blue or green color so they did not need to have a word for it. They did not discriminate between these two colors. People, who managed to learn two color names in English ("green and blue"), also managed to discriminate between colors. The same is here. Sensitivity, just like a characteristic of woman or man has been created by one or another model. When you become sensitive to these issues, you just start to see the difference. This is an actual difference of sensitivity. When you learn the term and theory, which helps you perceive its purpose, you start being sensitive to those issues. Most people are not sensitive to them. Then you exactly know and treat it in a respective manner. If a certain body spot is numb, it can be pricked with a needle but a person does not react to it since the spot is numb. To me it is just a revival of these numb spots. And natural sensitivity to one or another group of issues that hurt you. I have felt some pain since my childhood. Some issues that used to linger, and those that I later identified as caused by feminine experience, moments of some very personal experience. I did not generalize some of those issues, but it hurt anyway, when boys used to go and sing "men are cool, girls are fools". Boys cross the village singing, girls playing. And it simply hurt. Of course, it may just be ignored. The other moment I recall is from my visit at aunt's place. I was reading or doing something as any educated girl would do, and my aunt all of a sudden said: "Go and cook some pan-cakes for lunch". My answer was "I won't cook, I don't want to, I'm lazy, I don't want to." Then she said: "You'll never get a man, if you don't cook pan cakes, if you can't cook food. You've got to learn it." I was thirteen then. And it just stuck in my mind. I made a conclusion then, a silent, but spiteful one: if that is a reason to live with someone else, it is not valid for me. Later, when I became aware of feminist ideas, I understood its origins. It all seemed like running wild of a little and growing kid. Then, later on you identify it. You have this uneasiness, such pain. But after discovery of that identification you become more sensitive in other aspects, that seem to be small, meaningless things. But you simply break free, because you don't know. And then I can often make a joke, calling these my feminist ideas, but I do not torment my self because of it and I do not let others do it. And there is no need for others to torment me because of it.
I am not sure if I feel a strong relation with reality. I experience that reality better in a moment of dejavu. When I feel that it has happened before. I have no idea if this is link with this reality. I guess I only choose the film, because it takes you to the other world. These feelings you experience watching the screen are even more real. I think this soviet artificial space around me caused the need to communicate with reality through some mediator. And I don't want to leave that space. Its pretty comfortable and secure.