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Lietuvos Centrinis Valstybės Archyvas

Lithuanian Central State Archive as a new MIDAS III partner will provide metadata of 1000 films from its collection “Soviet Lithuania” comprising period until 1971. The whole “Soviet Lithuania” Collection consists of more than 1500 titles and contains newsreels timeline from 1941 to 1988 produced by Lithuanian Film Studios.

Following the nationalization of independent Lithuania’s film company, Lithuanian Films Studios was founded in 1940 in Kaunas as Lithuanian Film Chronicle Studios. As soon as possible, first Soviet propaganda infected newsreels were shown to Lithuanian viewers. Therefore, landing party of Soviet cameramen, as well as local filmmakers were involved into shooting the politically and ideologically correct films. In spite of this, active filmmaking triggered the first Lithuanian chronicle authors – such as S.Uzdonas, S.Vainalavičius, V.Starošas. The Nazi occupation temporally stopped the development of Lithuanian cinematography. After the Soviet reoccupation technical base of Lithuanian studios annually got better with new experience and financial investments. In 1946, for example, the first simultaneously recorded voices were presented to film viewers. In 1949 Studios was transferred to Vilnius. Since then, more than half a century, newsreels “Soviet Lithuania” were periodically produced by Lithuanian Film Studios. Well known Lithuanian filmmakers R.Verba, P.Abukevičius, Z.Putilovas, A.Baronas, A.Tarvydas, G.Skvarnavičius and others worked at Lithuanian Film Studios. After the reinstatement of Lithuania‘s independence in 1990 Lithuanian Film Studio is producing newsreels named “Lithuanian Chronicle”. It became a private company in 2004.

Viewing copies of about 40 new titles of newsreels were distributed to the cinemas in Lithuania yearly. 35 mm., black/white, Lithuanian-sounded, approximately 10-minutes length newsreels “Soviet Lithuania” were usually shown before every film performance. Generally, each newsreel narrated 5-6 separate stories about important moments of political and economical life, cultural and sport events in Lithuania’s Soviet Socialist Republic for more than forty years. In 1949 there were about 220 cinemas or simply places for screening in Lithuania with about 8,7 million viewers. In 1957 accordingly there were about 586 cinemas and 23,7 million viewers (in those years like now there were about 3 million inhabitants in Lithuania). That’s why newsreel “Soviet Lithuania” is more than chronicle in memory of few generations Lithuanian people. It’s a particular artefact of cultural and social life and still remains like a virtual prelude to any feature film seen in times past.

Now entire collection “Soviet Lithuania” is housed at the Lithuanian Central State Archive. The oldest title of the collection and the only one from the pre-war period is viewing copy (produced in 1941) handed to our Archive by Bundesarchiv in 1998. All titles of the collection have viewing copies. New viewing copies on safety film have been made for those positives produced before 1966 on nitro film. Professional digitization of film documents is not started yet. There is no proper equipment for it in the Archive. Film documents can be shot from a screen by digital camera and digitized to needed format by PC by requests of researches.

No catalogues of Lithuanian film documentary being stored in Archive are published. MIDAS – will be a very nice possibility to present some metadata from Lithuanian film heritage to international community. In the future all information on the “Soviet Lithuania” collection will be available in the filmarchives online catalogue.