Moving Pictures: The Making of Letters to Sofija


IBSN: 9781853432316 Category:


In 2011, Englishman Robert Mullan began an almost impossible film project: namely, to finance and shoot a film in 3 languages -Lithuanian, Russian and Polish- neither of which he could read, write or speak. He realized that the project would entail him shooting with Lithuanian actors, in various cities in Lithuania and Russia, and that he would then be preparing the film with English subtitles. But he was undeterred. The project had begun when, while working in Kaunas as a volunteer university lecturer in psychology, he discovered the relatively unknown Lithuanian artist and composer, Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. This man produced over 300 paintings and sketches, composed over 300 musical pieces (including two symphonic poems), fought for the independence of his small nation from the control of imperial Russia, fell in love with a fellow activist and then died, tragically, at the young age of 35. So began the project. Mullan decided to keep a diary, not only to record day-to-day events and thoughts, but also to provide a guide as how not to finance and produce a feature film. The diary includes both amusing and less funny moments. For example, the crew’s encounter with Russian border guards as they entered the country to shoot some scenes in St. Petersburg; the endless problems with the translation of the script; endless arguments with co-producers; the endless quest for money and the continuing belief that funds would run out before the completion of the film; an unexpected diagnosis of cancer; magnificent music and startling paintings. The film was finally completed, edited in London and shown in Vilnius, Chicago and London. It is now about to be distributed internationally.

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