Immediately after its release, Vilniaus pokeris by Ričardas Gavelis was at the centre of attention and brought literary critics and readers to their feet, with some calling it a scandal, while others were praising it as a masterpiece. No one could stay indifferent – the book became a bestseller, with 50,000 copies sold and several additional issues.
Director Donatas Ulvydas presents the themes and characters of Ričardas Gavelis’ novel to Vilnius residents in several stages – jazz concerts precede the film, and an exhibition of artworks inspired by Gavelis’ work is organised. These events of the cinematographic project are free of charge on the occasion of Vilnius’ 700th anniversary.
Vilniaus pokeris is unimaginable without the city, jazz and art. To reflect the spirit of Vilnius as accurately as possible, an exceptional number of Lithuanian artists from jazz musicians, painters, sculptors to photographers contribute to the series of concerts and exhibitions of Vilniaus pokeris. At these events, visitors feel like characters from Vilniaus pokeris novel, enjoying jazz improvisations, watching the most daring artworks by the capital’s artists, and maybe even coming across kanukai (i.e. the evil beings) trudging in the city described by Gavelis.
Date: 28 March – 8 May 2023
Location: Business Stadium Gallery, Šeimyniškių str. 19B
Vilnius is mentioned in various literary works, but for Lithuanians, the face of the city is perhaps best remembered from Ričardas Gavelis’ novel Vilniaus pokeris. The book, immediately after it was published, left no one indifferent. The author himself wrote at the time: “For some this novel seemed to be a study of universal slavery and universal surveillance. Others read the pages, filled with too much open eroticism, with pleasure or horror.”
According to the critics, with this novel, the Lithuanian literature gained the image of the city and the body, and underwent a shift from rural to urban culture, eroticism, and openness.
In the pages of the novel, among many different places, readers are also taken to the studio of the painter Teodoras. Donatas Ulvydas, the director of the forthcoming film based on Gavelis’ novel, spent long hours pondering on the works that should be hung in that studio during the filming process. “Authentic, of course! Real works by real artists”, he decided.
He invited the painter and exhibition curator Linas Liandzbergis to select the works of art. As the slected art collection turned quite a remarkable one, the creators decided to go beyond the shooting site and invite all Vilnius residents to the fictional studio of Teodoras as an open exhibition.
The corporality and the mysteries of the city, the uncompromising quest for freedom and the overwhelming feeling of being followed, the passion, the dark side of a human being, the most mystical symbols of Vilnius, and the kanukai that still live among us, are some of the themes of the exhibition titled Aren’t you a kanukas?
In the exhibition the works of the following artists and sculptors were exhibited: Teodoras Kazimieras Valaitis, Valentinas Antanavičius, Eglė Kuckaitė, Mindaugas Skudutis, Bronius Gražys, Emilis Vėlyvis, Rimas Olšauskas, Audrius Gražys, Monika Furmana and Laisvydė Šalčiūtė, Aleksandras Vozbinas, Arvydas Šaltenis, Vincas Kisarauskas, Vytautas Vasiliūnas, Eglė Ganda Bogdanienė, Vilmantas Marcinkevičius, Donatas Jankauskas-Duonis, Egmontas Bžeskas, Vladas Juodagalvis. Some of them have created their artworks exclusively for the Aren’t you a kanukas? exhibition and was be exhibited for the first time.More information here
Date: 12 May 2023
Location: Lukiškės prison 2.0, Lukiškių skg. 6
Lovers of cinema, literature and music are invited to the Vilnius Poker film concert, which includes all three of these fields of art. In January, a full house gathered to hear the unique sounds of the Vilnius Poker film concert in Vilnius, leaving no one indifferent; now, on 12 May, an impressive open-air jazz concert full of different scenography solutions happened. It was accompanied by musical compositions created by composers Kipras Mašanauskas and Jievaras Jasinskis for the upcoming Vilnius Poker movie.
This was a chance to take in a live performance by the Vilnius JJAZZ Ensemble, an orchestra of 22 professional jazz musicians, during which the vocal duet of singer Kotryna Juodzevičiūtė and actor Andriaus Paulavičius amazed with its sensitivity, courage, eccentricity and modern interpretation of the Vilnius Poker novel.
The concert was free.More information here
Born from the legend of the Iron Wolf, Vilnius itself has become a legendary city. Ričardas Gavelis revealed Vilnius as the main character in his novel Vilnius Poker. To celebrate Vilnius’ 700-year-anniversary, the movie gives Vilnius the opportunity to play itself – a city-legend, a city-fantasy, a city-vision where there is no past, present or future, where the present and history, reality and visions take place at the same time and are equally real. The mythology of the novel, the Vilnius beings the author describes, and the character of Vilnius as a predator captivate the audience from the start and reflect Lithuania’s identity.
Even though the novel takes place in 1989, the filmmakers have brought the movie into the present day, which provides an opportunity to reveal the interwar, post-war, Soviet and contemporary Vilnius with all its virtues and flaws. To avoid ending up in a value swamp, critical thinking is always essential to society in all regimes.
The culture of Vilnius is extremely diverse. For over 700 years, the city has been constantly changing, remaining relevant to this day. To celebrate its anniversary, it’s time to create a new legend with a bold future, combining the lines of historical and modern mythology. Vilnius Poker is a mystified story about life, love and death in a city that exists beyond time, memory and reality. The bright and controversial film will enchant viewers in this milestone year, inviting them to discuss and discover new meanings of Vilnius.
This movie reveals a different perspective to every viewer – in Vilnius Poker, the city plays an exceptional character and forms a new Lithuanian urban mythology. Following the path of the novel is always tempting; it’s a different way to get to know the city, especially when this novel is the legendary Vilnius Poker.
Jazz is an inseparable motif of the novel Vilnius Poker, but it sounds anew in the novel’s contemporary on-screen adaptation. Cooperating with the Lithuanian jazz community, the filmmakers created a soundtrack for the film that also serves as a full-fledged avant-garde Vilnius Poker concert programme, which is being presented as a separate event during the film’s premiere.
As one of the main scenes of the novel takes place in an abandoned church, where musicians secretly perform an avant-garde jazz composition of stunning intensity, the programme is being presented in one of Vilnius’ churches. Thus, to celebrate its 700th anniversary, Vilnius is receiving a film as well as a unique jazz composition that reflects the constantly changing and modern face of the city. The heart of Vilnius will beat to the rhythm of jazz.