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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Lithuania

Romas Zabarauskas finalising post-production on The Lawyer

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- The Lithuanian helmer’s third feature is the first Baltic production to explore the theme of male homosexual love; France's Wide Management will be selling it at the impending EFM

Romas Zabarauskas finalising post-production on The Lawyer
Actor Eimutis Kvosciauskas on the set of The Lawyer (© Justina Liubinaite)

UPDATE (11 February 2020): The script of The Lawyer, penned by director Romas Zabarauskas himself, tells the complicated love story between two men. Life drifts by for gay corporate lawyer Marius (played by Eimutis Kvosciauskas), who spends his days teasing friends and chasing young lovers. One day, Marius’ estranged father dies. Mourning turns to love as the lawyer finds he has an unanticipated connection with a sex-cam worker, Ali (Turkish thesp Doğaç Yıldız), a Syrian refugee stuck in Belgrade. The feature, budgeted at €314,300, has received support from the Lithuanian Film Centre, which earmarked a €197,500 production and development grant for it. The production also benefited from the local tax incentive, raising a further €75,000. The rest of the budget was raised through smaller grants, private donations and a pre-sale for LRT, Lithuania’s pubcaster. Sales have been entrusted to France's Wide Management. The firm will present The Laywer at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin.

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Romas Zabarauskas has just completed post-production on his third feature, a romantic drama entitled The Lawyer. The young Lithuanian filmmaker’s previous works (We Will Riot, You Cant Escape Lithuania and his debut short, Porno Melodrama) tackle the subjects of queer love, resurgent nationalism and politics, and have been successfully shown on the festival circuit in such places as Berlin, Moscow and Bushwick.

The script, penned by the director himself, tells the complicated love story between two men, a Lithuanian lawyer called Marius (played by Eimutis Kvosciauskas) and Ali (Turkish thesp Doğaç Yıldız), a Syrian refugee stuck in Belgrade. Unpacking the subjects of identity, privilege and the nature of love, the film promises an intimate experience spiced up with noir elements. The cast is enriched by the presence of actors Darya Ekamasova, Denisas Kolomyckis, Danilas Pavilionis, Neringa Bulotaite, Aiste Dirziute, Naglis Bierancas, Simonas Mozura, Clotilde Rigaud, Aiste Gramantaite and Jelena Stupljanin. Furthermore, the technical crew includes DoP Narvydas Naujalis (Isaac [+see also:
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interview: Jurgis Matulevičius
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, You Can’t Escape Lithuania), composer Ieva Marija Baranauskaite and editor Ieva Veiveryte (El Padre Medico, Park ‘79). The film was entirely shot in Vilnius and Belgrade.

The Lawyer is the first feature focusing on a male gay love story produced in the Baltic states. Speaking about the project, Zabarauskas, an activist and outspoken LGBT+ rights advocate himself, disclosed to Cineuropa: “I hope the film will be of interest to those looking for a nuanced story beyond the media headlines. Our message is simple: we should see people neither as victims nor heroes, but as human beings first and foremost. The constant victimisation of refugees or other vulnerable groups can end up doing more harm than good, as it has a dehumanising side effect.”

The Lawyer is being produced by the director himself for Lithuanian outfit Naratyvas. Even though the film is not officially a co-production, Zabarauskas co-operated closely with Serbia’s Film Road Production and its head, Milena Dzambasovic (Nebeska tema, A Good Wife [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
), who served as the executive producer, alongside Glenn Elliott (You Can’t Escape Lithuania, Eat With Me) and associate producer Meda Dziugaite. The feature, budgeted at €314,300, received support from the Lithuanian Film Centre, which earmarked a €197,500 production and development grant for it. The production also benefited from the local tax incentive, raising a further €75,000. The rest of the budget was raised through smaller grants, private donations and a pre-sale for LRT, Lithuania’s pubcaster. The film is scheduled for domestic release in September 2020.

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