A short documentary about freedom of expression told through one language – dance.
by Irene Stamatiou in Poole, England, United Kingdom
“Troleibusas” explores the idea of freedom of expression and creativity while following the Vilnius University Ensemble. The documentary tells a simple story about the ensemble dancers getting ready for a performance while looking at the beauty of movement and exploring the power of music and sound. Inspired by Lithuanian history, landscape, dance and music the film creates a spectacle that does not rely on dialogue allowing it to be experienced by anyone.
You may ask, why is this documentary called Troleibusas (eng. Trolleybus) when it is a film about dance? The title Troleibusas comes from a particular sequence from the film that will draw from both dance and film to create a unique performance set on a Troleibusas. By creating a piece of dance in this setting we hope to bring together elements from different periods into a piece of performance that could not have happened before in Lithuania’s history.
The photograph above was the directors' initial source of inspiration for the film's theme and subject matter.
Director: Auguste Baltrunaite Since the early days Auguste (referred to as August by many) loved to create. Growing up in Lithuania and moving around the country, she tried herself in painting, gymnastics, drawing, crafts, ballroom dancing, acting, playing the guitar, photography and lastly found her place in filmmaking where everything came together. Being a student at Skalvija Film Academy, Auguste learned about her passion for scriptwriting, directing, producing and production design. Becoming a student at Bournemouth Film School she developed her skills and specialized in Documentary and Production Design. With her work, she explores beauty, joyfulness, colours, happiness and “everything nice”. When raising questions and trying to understand the world around her, she wrote, and is still developing Troleibusas: a film about the beauty of movement and as she says: “getting a feeling”.
Producer: Irene Stamatiou Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Irene was exposed to a multitude of cultures and art forms. She studied from the age of 12 in the Art School of Athens while continuing her education in the International Baccalaureate, specializing in Visual Arts. There, she expanded her knowledge in Visual storytelling and applying her fine art talents in a variety of mediums. Once she came to AUB she found her passion for Producing and Editing films where she decided to specialize in both. She was drawn in this particular project due to her interest in working in documentary as well as her own interest in music. Having done independent studies in classical singing for 4 years and singing in multiple choirs, Irene's past in music will be valuable to this film's future.
Cinematographer: Chris Speddings Over recent years Chris has developed a love for documentary storytelling, and its ability to impact both an audience and larger societal contexts. Having grown up in Sheffield and attended Sheffield International Documentary Festival several times, he has found himself developing a passion for the process of documentary filmmaking. Chris has been interested in documenting life since he first picked up his Dad’s Canon AE1 as a child and over the years he has developed his skills in visual storytelling, having shot several documentaries on a variety of topics and subjects. Chris has attended BFI courses both in Sheffield and the NFTS and is currently in his final year studying Film Production at Arts University Bournemouth specialising in Cinematography and Documentary. The enthusiasm of the dance ensemble's freedom is matched by Chris' enthusiasm to capture it.
Editor: Lorenzo Innocenti Lorenzo comes from Italy, his only familiarity with dance (until now) was with the dance school outside his childhood home. Playing drums for a number of years has built his experience with pacing through music. Coming from editing unusual stories, this film is the perfect end to pushing his filmmaking practice over his three-year study at Bournemouth Film School. Immersing himself in the world of Lithuanian dance presents him with the opportunity to put together a story of a culture that ought to be seen around the world. The idea of a universal language of expression is something Lorenzo is looking forward when editing the documentary’s story. 22 years and 1,000 kilometers away from where he first witnessed dance, Lorenzo will use this constantly rewarding experience of making this film to learn and express its boundless emotion.
Co-Producer: Molly Tidd The day Molly learned to walk was the day she learned to dance. From a young age, Molly was fascinated by multiple different dance forms, from traditional classical ballet, jazz, tap, modern, contemporary and street dance, Molly has tried it all. Born in Bedford, she moved to Bournemouth at the age of six and attended a classical dance and drama school, alongside her schooling up until the age of eighteen when she started university and took her film studies more seriously. Molly’s passion for filmmaking over the past six years has excelled, she connects most to the ability documentary filmmaking has in bridging across different audiences and societal groups. Molly anticipates that combining her passion for dance with her ability to produce documentary films will help express a new way of viewing on-screen dance storytelling.
Sound Recordist: Jay Singh Jay believes that in order to grow as a human, one must constantly challenge themselves. He grew up and lived most of his life in India and so, he is familiar with the complexities of a dual identity. While it was challenging, it also became a great asset. He has but one goal - to tell stories that are meaningful. Stories that will change the world and make it a better place. Going to Lithuania will give him a chance to challenge himself in order to find sounds that will do traditional Lithuanian dance justice. A chance to tell stories of those who gather under the same roof to show a mastery of skills passed down by their ancestors, share feelings of joy, grief, excitement, and competition - all through dance.
Post Sound: Harrison Mullins Harrison is the Sound Designer for Troleibusas. He is a passionate Sound Designer who has experience in all sound roles, such as Fiction Films, Commercials as well as Music videos. He looks forward to Sound Designing this film, because dance is a close part of his family, with his mum as a dance teacher and sister studying dance at Bird college London. He loves music of almost any kind of genre, so learning more about Lithuanian culture is certainly something that will enhance his work as a Sound Designer. Throughout his experience in Sound Design, he has worked on a number of short film productions within the Arts University Bournemouth, as well as outside the University. Along with his experience as a Sound Designer, he is also a Grade 8 Drummer and music composer, which further makes his taste for music a key reason for fitting the sound role in this documentary.
Vilnius University Song and Dance Ensemble is one of the best student folk-art ensembles in Lithuania, celebrating their 80th anniversary next year. The ensemble consists out of three inseparable parts: The orchestra, choir, and dancers. For our film, we will be focusing visually on the dance while the joyful music and authentic songs will come from the ensemble’s orchestra and choir.
Traditionally, the Ensemble takes part not only in national but also in the international events and festivals. They have visited four continents and more than 30 countries, including Australia, Mongolia, and the USA.
We were drawn to the ensemble by their passion for traditional art and their strong sense of community, it is almost as if they are a large family as they perform. Seeing 100 singers, players and dancers perform authentic pieces inspired by Lithuanian folklore gives a transient feeling that flows over time and space. With the youthful energy and strong belief, they keep the folklore art alive and pass it on to generations to come.
The Dancers of the Vilnius University Ensemble with the director, producer, and cinematographer during a research trip in September 2019.
We imagine Troleibusas as a joyful, colourful and beautiful film. It will be a combination of observational, participatory and performative modes of documentary creating a dance within the form itself. This will be done through cinematography, sound, and editing. We want the film to flow gently and calmly through the story but becoming more energetic and playful when required. The central piece of the film is the performative dance sequence created specifically for the camera and set on a Troleibusas as previously outlined.
The cinematography and the aesthetics of the film will parallel the subjects on screen. We will use static camera work when observing the dancers; adapting and become participatory moving with the dancers as they rehearse and perform. For the performative sequence, we will specifically choreograph a dance sequence, working closely with the ensemble.
We aim to shoot the performance sequence in Troleibusas on 16mm film to create a hybrid form of both Digital and Celluloid formats. Why shoot film when digital cameras can also be used to capture dance performances? We will shoot this sequence on a Bolex H16; a clockwork camera that is physically wound up by the operator. By removing all aids and digital devices from the process, a far more human relationship will be created between the camera and the dancers. Shooting on celluloid will give a physical element to this sequence, capturing both the textures of the film but also the textures and details on the dancer’s costumes. This sequence includes traditional Lithuanian dance, being performed on a Soviet-Era trolleybus, which is something that would have been suppressed 30 years ago. As a medium, it would help capture this in a way that only celluloid can.
This film will provide audiences with the opportunity to experience and immerse themselves within the colours, sounds, and energy that this part of Lithuanian culture and history is rich with.
With your support, we will be able to travel to Lithuania, film in a digital format as well as analog, and be able to share it with all of you!
Thank you so much for viewing our page! If you want to help us, financial support is not the only way. You can also follow us on our social media and share it with your friends and family. In that way, we can spread the word and our story can reach even more people.
Illustrations & Graphics by: Amber Jones
Crew Pictures by: Monika Joana (Tėja) Pašukonytė
Inspiration Picture taken by: Laura Dičiūnaitė
This project offers rewards in return for your donation.