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This gay love film is going head-to-head with a Hollywood blockbuster in cinemas

This gay love film is going head-to-head with a Hollywood blockbuster in cinemas

  • The strange story of how a home-grown gay movie ended up taking on Chris Nolan’s major new spy film, Tenet, in Lithuanian cinemas, thanks to coronavirus.
New Lithuanian gay film THE LAWYER.

It’s not very modest to call one’s own film ‘groundbreaking’.

And indeed modesty isn’t a virtue I usually aspire to. Moreover, in my defense, our new feature THE LAWYER actually is the first movie in Lithuania telling a gay male love story.

Yes, history is being made here – cheers, sweetie, you’re welcome!

A gay love story in a country where gay love isn’t legal yet. Well, marriage isn’t, at least. Nor partnership. You can still love, I suppose.

We were working on this film for four years, only for the pandemic to fuck up our world premier at London’s LGBT+ film festival – BFI Flare.

But even before the pandemic, we started to plan our distribution strategy. Our main goal was to get a wide theatrical release in August 2020, and do it all by ourselves (who else would?). 

We fleshed out marketing strategies, listed VIP guests for our premiere, and planned the whole launch. All to impress the big guys at the main cinema chains. Amazingly, they started to seem surprisingly positive about the idea.

However, flash forward, the pandemic started and everything closed, including cinemas.

Great!

Then suddenly, the situation changed again. Dramatically.

Scene from THE LAWYER.
Love in Lithuania: Scene from THE LAWYER. Romas Zabarauskas

Cinemas re-open but without any movies

After early and decisive quarantine measures, Lithuania took control of the pandemic and cinemas reopened in late June.

But they didn’t have films to screen!

Hollywood kept postponing their big titles and so the big cinema chains started to struggle. They screened some old hits, some arthouse titles, but nothing seemed to work much.

Nevertheless they started to feature premieres of Lithuanian films more than ever before.

So we got lucky! 

Finally all eyes were on us. We confirmed the release date and all cinemas, big and small, enthusiastically embraced our launch. We even set the date – 28 August.

Now the only thing that could stop us was Christopher Nolan’s new spy movie Tenet, I joked. Remember how they kept postponing again and again, promising to reopen cinemas worldwide soon?

‘Postpone two times again and our release date would match,’ I laughed.  

And they postponed. Once. And then the second time. And our release dates now matched!

Who needs institutional homophobia when you have problems like a global pandemic and Hollywood blockbusters landing on your release date (not that any of these things are comparable to each other)?

But hey, perhaps Tenet will actually even boost our attendance, as it will draw people back to cinemas in the first place.

Thank you, Nolan!

LGBT+ visibility in Lithuania

Meanwhile my message to Lithuania is – get ready. Next weekend you’ll attend a spectacular Hollywood blockbuster with a black lead and a local arthouse gay romance.

Because it’s 2020! Despite all, we’re winning.

A week ago, one of the most popular weekly Lithuanian TV guides placed a trans actor Danilas Pavilionis on the cover.

It’s a first: no trans men had appeared on the cover of any Lithuanian magazine before.

And it’s particularly good timing for our film. Danilas features as a trans sculptor Pranas in our film, with whom the lawyer star Marius flirts clumsily. I’ll be forever thankful to Danilas for his great work in the film – and his decision to share his story so publicly. That really matters.

Meanwhile, if you can’t make it to a Lithuanian cinema next weekend, all is not lost. THE LAWYER will come out on VOD in the US and Canada this week. I hope you give it a chance. We gave it all.