Lithuanian filmmaker Marija Kavtaradzė has won the best director award at the Sundance Film Festival 2023. Her second feature film Slow, called Tu Man Nieko Neprimeni (You Don’t Remind Me of Anyone) in Lithuanian, had its international premiere at this prestigious US festival in January.
The Sundance Film Festival is the largest annual independent film event in the USA and has been running since 1978. Organized by the Sundance Institute, it takes place each January in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah and acts as a showcase for new work from American and international independent filmmakers. The program includes dramatic and documentary features, short films, and episodic content. Since 1985, hundreds of films launched at the Festival have gone on to gain critical acclaim and reach new audiences worldwide.
This year, over the 11 days of the festival, there were 111 Feature films, 64 short films, and 4 Indie Episodic projects to watch in person and online.
Marija Kavtaradzė is known for her earlier films Summer Survivors (2018), and Paskutinis žmogus, su kuriuo aš kalbėjau (2010). Born in 1991, Kavtaradzė graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (Film Directing Studies) in 2014. She is considered one of the most talented upcoming filmmakers in Lithuania.
“It is still hard to believe that the first showing of the film to the world is such a success. I am grateful to the entire team and to each and every one of them for this creative journey together. The next stage is about to begin – the film meets its audience. It is incredible that Slow has received such an immediate and overwhelming acclaim at my dream festival, Sundance,” she said on accepting the award. In addition to directing the film, Kavtaradzė wrote the screenplay.
Slow is her second feature-length film, a love drama that tells the story of the encounter between contemporary dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas, and the immediate romantic relationship that develops between them. Elena meets Dovydas when he is assigned to interpret via sign language in a class she is teaching to deaf youth. Their connection is immediate, kinetic, and frictionless. As they gravitate toward each other, resisting the forces and interventions of their separate daily lives, their bond deepens from platonic to romantic.
The Sundance program notes that “Marija Kavtaradze’s sophomore feature shows off her muscular intimacy skills. Through dance, tense quietude, and a stunningly singular exploration of asexuality, she forefronts physicality and its limitations in the expression of emotional expectation. The two leads, Greta Grinevičiūtė (Elena) and Kęstutis Cicėnas (Dovydas), conjure undeniable chemistry and heartbreakingly complicated, stubborn, and private humanity. The result is an instantly recognizable dance between self and other; this one choreographed with elegance, grace, and love.”
Kavtaradzė’s film is expected to be released in Lithuania in autumn of this year.