Sarunas Bartas: when you sit in a Vilnius bar, war seems to be a romantic adventure. It is not

Sarunas Bartas, which last year chose the best Lithuanian film Director, returns with a new film “Frost.” The film stars famous French woman Vanessa Paradis. The movie was filmed in Donbass region, very close to the war zone. It conveys the attitude of the Director to the Ukraine, Bartas supports her struggle for independence.

Rokas and Inga (played by novice actors Lithuanian mantas Jankauskas and Leah Magnificate) — two young men who grew up in independent Lithuania, they don’t know what war is. They get involved in an adventure and agree to take on Ukraine as humanitarian aid, but this trip completely changed their lives. So in a few words you can describe the 9th feature film one of the best Directors of Lithuania.

Premiere of “Frost” (in English Frost) took place in a section of the Cannes film festival “for Two weeks Directors”, after his viewing audience a few minutes standing ovation. “The film broke my heart. It seems to us that the war is very far away, but actually it is very close. The Bartas vividly conveyed the realities of war,” — said after the premiere of the legendary French Director Claire Denis.

In France the film was greeted with great enthusiasm because it has played a French movie star and music Vanessa Paradis. It is in the “Frost” plays the role of the military journalist. In this film she first cooperates with the Lithuanian filmmakers. The fact that a star of such magnitude as Vanessa Paradis have agreed to play in this film, should not be surprising: Bartas is an authority in the French cinema. Last year the prestigious Paris contemporary art centre Pompidou organized a retrospective of films by Bartas — such recognition falls only on the share of the best artists of the world of cinema.

During the filming of “Frost” Bartas with a team of 30 people went to the Ukraine for three months — so much was their expedition. On cars they are in total overcame 13 thousand kilometers closer to the war zone. Some scenes were filmed in 200-300 meters from the front line. During filming members of the crew heard shots fired in his direction.

In Lithuania, the “Frost” can be seen on 18 August. Traditionally, Bartas does not comment on his film, but he agreed to talk about the situation in Ukraine and Lithuania. The Bartas grew up in Siauliai, he began his career in Soviet times (he remembers it as the time that young people “can’t see and the worst nightmare”). The annexation of Crimea, he regards as Russia’s desire to increase its influence in the former Soviet Union. He is convinced that Lithuania should stay alert.

“In the case of Ukraine, before the invasion, no one believed — or Ukrainians, or Russians themselves — that is possible. But at any moment something could happen in Lithuania. Only some people this is not taken seriously,” said Bartas in the interview that he gave while in France. “Frost” you were shooting in Ukraine, close to the front line. Why Ukraine?

Sarunas Bartas: I followed the events on the Maidan, live. I saw how it all began. In November 2013, the then President of Ukraine Yanukovych arrived to the summit of the Eastern partnership of the Council of Europe in Vilnius to sign important political and economic agreement with the EU. But a few days before Yanukovich was summoned to Moscow, and, returning to Vilnius, he did not sign the agreement. It was the beginning of the Maidan. I am very sympathetic to Ukrainians, and this feeling engulfed me.

During the Orange revolution (2004) I was shooting in the Crimea, where, together with the crew, with the breaks we worked for two years. Then passed elections of the President of Ukraine. When the winner in the second round, which passed the Pro-Russian Yanukovych and the Pro-Western Yushchenko, Yanukovych announced, and the next day began with mass protests against the election results under the leadership of Yushchenko, the Central electoral Commission was accused of falsifying election results.

A month later held a second election and Yushchenko won in January 2005 he became President of the country. At such a sensitive redistribution of spheres of influence after the fall of the Soviet Union came to Ukraine due to its geopolitical position. The war for independence the Ukraine was always. Ukrainians fought from 1917 to 1921, when most of it barely took the Bolsheviks. Russia is constantly trying to plant in the Ukraine his vassal.

— How do you assess Russia’s policy today?

Developed countries have in fact abandoned the imperialist machinations. First of all Europe consisted of empires: France, UK, Portugal, Denmark. They abandoned the desire to expand their territory in the middle of last century, after the Second world war. And Russia is the opposite. It expands the Empire and occupying new land. As it expanded its power before WWII, and won the Baltic countries to gain access to the Baltic sea, and now scared that after the Maidan will lose control over Ukraine, and will lose the base in Sevastopol, or at least influence in the Black sea. The invasion of Ukraine is an extension of the territory of Russia in the Western direction in order to obtain greater influence.

In the case of Ukraine there was a severe violation of international conventions. And this happens in the XXI century. What did Moscow — big audacity. Russia is trying again to return to its sphere of influence, those countries which were part of the USSR. With most countries in the Asian and other — she succeeded. The part of their governments puppet. Created by Russian propaganda TV channels in English, for example, RT etc. the newly elected President of France macron called RT, not the media, and a means of propaganda. Say it right in the face of Putin during a meeting in France.

— Why the struggle in Ukraine is important to Lithuania?

— Russia’s actions pose a threat to us. People speak about it all: politics, intelligence, state security service. At any time something can happen. Only some people this seriously is not true. From the actions against us are deterred by the fact that we are members of the EU and NATO, and Ukraine is not. But if the situation changes, the world will be a more serious conflict — I would not be surprised if something happens in Lithuania. Possible.

The Russian government enjoys the fact that all of her fear, since it is a nuclear state. So it was during the cold war. Why nobody wanted to come into conflict with the Soviet Union? Because he was unpredictable. And remained so. In the case of Ukraine before the invasion no one would have believed it possible — neither Ukrainians, nor the Russians themselves. The factor of unpredictability is valid in Lithuania.

— Do you see Parallels between the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the occupation of Lithuania in Soviet times? What are they?

— The occupation of Lithuania took place on the same principle as the occupation of the Crimea. First, in 1939 Lithuania was forced to admit a limited contingent of the Soviet army — 20 thousand people. In 1940, a ditch was discovered dead Soviet soldiers, on this basis, the government of Lithuania issued an ultimatum. The Soviet government has accused Lithuania of kidnapping soldiers and provocations. To mislead the world community, to give occupation and annexation of the legitimate appearance of the Soviet Union changed the legitimate government of the puppet political structure.

Molotov presented an ultimatum to Lithuania of the USSR, which was required to create a new government favorable to the Soviet Union, and to provide free introduction on the Lithuanian territory of the red army. Units of the Soviet army were at the Lithuanian border, they were ready to attack, but after Lithuania accepted the ultimatum, the attack was withdrawn and the Soviet army took the Lithuanian territory, unopposed. The new government of Lithuania, and later of Ministers replaced loyal to Moscow members of the Communist party. The government created the USSR, formed a delegation that went to Moscow and asked her to take Lithuania into the USSR. Representatives of the former government, politicians locked in prison, exiled or killed.

The annexation of Crimea took place approximately in the same way. The first area captured by the military. In the Crimea had its own Happy since it was an Autonomous Republic within Ukraine. Under the control of the occupying military structures was the so-called “referendum”, after which Parliament has asked Moscow to join the Crimea to Russia.

In the end, the war in Ukraine is not the only one. It was the seizure of Georgian territories. There, too, there were Russian proteges, who asked in Russian. Therefore, the Lithuanian security services are vigilant for people collaborating with Russia.

— “Rime” — Ukraine?

— Film — not a documentary. This is not a review of the events and the analysis of military facts. This is a movie. But it shows a small part of the life of Ukraine and its people. On the Internet there are so many materials, analyzes the events in Ukraine. But some of these materials are presented in Russian, youth, it is difficult to access — many don’t speak Russian.

— The main characters of the film — two young people, does not represent what war is, without hesitation, agree to take humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Can young people in Lithuania now even understand what war is?

— It is not easy. Due to the change of generations, youth, rashness and ignorance of the consequences have been many wars. Terrible years of wars in Europe and around the world. People quickly forget what war is. When you sit in Vilnius bar with friends and drink in hand, any sea knee-deep, and every war seems romantic adventure. In reality it is not so. Not only for soldiers but for all people is a failure. Sun Tzu in “the Art of war” wrote that the best war is one that does not occur. When you can defeat without military action. And the worst — protracted war. It destroys the economically ruining the economy, people get poorer, it all ends with the collapse of the state. Of course, the work of sun Tzu should not directly apply in our time, because it was written over 350 years BC But it still read to this day.

— After the annexation of Crimea in Lithuania is more and more talk about the war, young people are encouraged to join the army, her romanticize. How do you feel about this?

— As for the army — it is a matter of debate. There are countries in which the army is composed only of mercenaries, for example, in the United States. They have an army composed of mercenaries, volunteers. People who want to join the army and serve. In our case, return to conscription because they want to be able to carry out a General mobilization. This is a viable strategy. The acquisition of certain skills and knowledge related to defence and military Affairs is necessary if we want to resist aggression. Lithuania proved capable of it.

When Lithuania accepted the ultimatum of the USSR and surrendered without firing a shot, the struggle is not over. Soon was born the guerrilla movement, which was attended by at least 100 thousand people. It was organized resistance. Lithuanians still fought — many have done this — and professional soldiers, and ordinary people. People who have left the fields, farms, families, children, went into the woods and tried to resist the occupation. It’s natural. It is the protection of their homeland. And only those people who know nothing about the Soviet Union, where we lived — only they can say something that they don’t care they will live somewhere, under somebody’s heel or not. Because they didn’t see it, don’t know and can’t imagine even in the nightmare.

Human rights, with whom the pupils meet in the school — they then wanted to spit. It’s been 25 years, a new generation that can’t imagine such a world. They didn’t see the poverty from the material, finishing spiritual repression.

— “Rime” is more entertaining than your previous films. It has a clear plot, a lot of dialogue. Your goal is to film in front of lots of people?

— I deliberately did not want this. Can’t do a film only to have widened the circle of spectators. In this case, it is necessary to simplify everything, I’m not interested. I can’t and don’t want to create a movie to please everyone, that’s impossible. Would the film acceptable for the people — can only say they do.