Cinematographic project “Vilnius Poker”

Vilnius has played many important roles over 700 years, but on the occasion of the anniversary, the city has become the main actor in director Donatas Ulvydas’ cinematic project “Vilnius Poker”. Based on the legendary novel by Ričardas Gavelis, “Vilnius Poker” presented the identity of Vilnius and enchanted with its brightness, mystical atmosphere and jazz music.

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Immediately after its publication, “Vilnius Poker” by Ričardas Gavelis has attracted a lot of attention, and has alerted literary critics and readers, with some calling it a scandal and others a masterpiece. However, no one was indifferent, the book became a bestseller, selling 50 000 copies, with several editions.

Director Donatas Ulvydas introduced the themes and characters of Ričardas Gavelis’ novel to the residents of Vilnius in several stages: before the film was made, jazz concerts were held, and an exhibition of artworks inspired by Gavelis’ work was organised. All these events of the cinematographic project were free of charge on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Vilnius.

“Vilnius Poker” is unimaginable without the city, jazz and art. In order to portray the spirit of Vilnius as accurately as possible, a large number of Lithuanian artists – jazz musicians, painters, sculptors and photographers –  have contributed to the “Vilnius Poker” concert and exhibition series. Visitors to these events could feel like the characters in the novel “Vilnius Poker”: jazzing up at the free-spirited concerts, watching the most daring artworks by the capital’s artists, and maybe even encountering the kanukai that Gavelis described walking around the city.

Exhibition: Aren’t you a kanukas?

Date: 19 May – 9 June 2023

Venue: art gallery Drobė, Drobės g. 62, Kaunas

Opening hours: weekdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m.

Price: free of charge

Date: 28 March – 8 May 2023

Location: Business Stadium Gallery, Šeimyniškių str. 19B

Price: free of charge

Date: 26 May – 14 June 2023

Venue: Baroti Gallery, Didžioji vandens g. 2 / Aukštoji g. 1, Klaipėda

Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday, from 11:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m., Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m.

Price: free of charge

Vilnius is mentioned in various literary works, but for Lithuanians the face of the city is probably best remembered from Ričardas Gavelis’ novel “Vilnius Poker”. The book, which has just been published, has left no one indifferent. The author himself wrote at the time: “This novel seemed to some to be a study of universal slavery and universal surveillance. Others read the pages, which were filled with too much frank eroticism, with pleasure or horror.”

According to critics, with this novel, the city and the body came into Lithuanian literature, from the depiction of the countryside to urban culture, eroticism and openness appeared.

In the pages of the novel, among the many different places, readers are also taken to the studio of the painter Teodoras. Donatas Ulvydas, the director of the upcoming film based on Gavelis’ novel, spent a long time thinking about what works should hang 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. Since the art collection was solid, the artists decided to go beyond the cinema site and invite all Vilnius residents to Teodoras’ fictitious studio for an open exhibition.

The corporeality and the mysteries of the city, the uncompromising pursuit of freedom and the overwhelming feeling of being followed, passion, the dark side of man, the most mystical symbols of Vilnius and kanukai that still live among us – these are just a few of the works in the exhibition “Aren’t you a kanukas?” themes.

Artists and sculptors, whose works are featured in the exhibition: 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 created artworks specially for “Aren’t you a kanukas?” exhibition, which were exhibited for the first time.

More information here


Film concert: Vilnius Poker

Date: 12 May 2023

Venue: Lukiškės Prison 2.0, Lukiškių skg. 6

Price: free of charge

Lovers of cinema, literature and music were invited to “Vilnius Poker”, a cinema concert encompassing these three arts. After the unique sounds of the “Vilnius Poker” film concert in Vilnius in January left no one indifferent, and not enough room for all those who wanted to attend, on 12 May a spectacular open-air jazz concert full of various scenographic solutions was presented. It was accompanied by musical compositions created by composers Kipras Mašanauskas and Jievaras Jasinskis for the upcoming film “Vilnius Poker”.

There was a live performance given by the professional orchestra consisting of 22 jazz musicians “Vilnius JJAZZ Ensemble”, during which the vocal duo of singer Kotryna Juodzevičiūtė and actor Andrius Paulavičius impressed with their sensitivity, boldness, eccentricity and modern interpretation of the novel “Vilnius Poker”.

The concert was free.

More information here


A new legend of Vilnius was born

Born out of the legend of the Iron Wolf, Vilnius itself has become a legendary city, a legend that was revealed by Ričardas Gavelis in his 1989 novel “Vilnius Poker”. On the occasion of the anniversary, the screen adaptation of this novel gives Vilnius the opportunity to play itself: a city-legend, a city-fantasy, a city-vision, where there is no past, no present and no future, where the present and the history, the reality and the visions happen at the same time, and all are equally real. Gavelis’ mythology of the city, the creatures of Vilnius and the character of the Vilnius as a predator are enchanting and reflective of the Lithuanian identity.

Although the novel is set in 1989, the filmmakers bring the action of the upcoming film to the present day, so that not only interwar, post-war and Soviet-era Vilnius, but also Vilnius today, with all its virtues and vices, are intertwined. Critical thinking is essential for society at all times and in all systems, in order to avoid being trapped in a swamp of values.

Vilnius as a character

Vilnius culture is very diverse. The city has been constantly changing over the period of 700 years and has remained relevant to this day. On the occasion of the anniversary, it is time to create a new legend that boldly faces the future, combining the lines of historical and contemporary mythology. “Vilnius Poker” is a mystified story of life, love and death in a city that exists beyond time, memory and reality. The audience is in for a vivid and controversial film that invites debate and discovers new meanings.

For each viewer, this forthcoming film will reveal a different perspective. In “Vilnius Poker”, the city becomes a unique character and forms a new Lithuanian urban mythology. Following the path of a novel is always an enticing prospect, a way of getting to know a city, especially when the novel is the legendary “Vilnius Poker”.

Vilnius Poker with Jazz

Jazz is an integral motif in the novel “Vilnius Poker”, but it is even more pronounced in the screen adaptation. Director Donatas Ulvydas and the filmmakers of the upcoming film, in active cooperation with the Lithuanian jazz community, created not only the soundtrack for the upcoming film, but also a full-fledged concert programme of avant-garde jazz “Vilnius Poker” performed by “Vilnius JAZZ Ensemble”. Thus, on the occasion of the anniversary, Vilnius received a unique jazz composition that reflects the ever-changing and modern face of the city. The heart of Vilnius beats to the rhythm of jazz.

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