Lithuanian drama Pilgrims has scooped an award at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.
Laurynas Bareiša’s feature follows Indre and Paulius as they travel to the town where their mutual friend, Matas — Paulius’ brother, and Indre’s boyfriend — died in a gruesome crime. The pair try to retrace Matas’ footsteps from a nearby airport to an apparent bar fight — but soon find out that revisiting the past is no easy task.
The thriller won over the jury at the 78th edition of Venice Film Festival, where it was awarded best film in the event’s Orizzonti category: a section of the main competition dedicated to young and debuting filmmakers.
Bareiša, who also attended Venice in 2017 with his short film By the Pool, was inspired to create the work while out scouting locations with his wife, who is also a filmmaker.
“Four years ago, we found ourselves on a small road that brought up memories of a newspaper report [I’d read, about] a car that had been burned with a girl in the trunk,” Bareiša explained. “Even though I knew that we were not at the actual crime scene, tears came to my eyes when I imagined what it would be like for someone close to the victim to be standing in the exact spot where the tragedy took place. I decided to build a story around that feeling.”
Other prize winners from Eastern Europe include 107 mothers, a Slovak film on a women’s prison in Ukraine by director Peter Kerekes. It also won best screenplay in the Orizzonti section.
Now in its 78th iteration, the Venice Film Festival is considered one of the film world’s top international rendez-vous, alongside Cannes and the Berlinale.The festival, organised by the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art, takes place yearly.