‘THR Presents’ Q&A with Lithuanian Oscar Contender ‘Pilgrims’

Pilgrims, Lithuanian’s official entry for the 2023 greatest worldwide function Oscar, is a homicide thriller a couple of solved homicide. Laurynas Bareisa’s spectacular debut — which premiered in Venice final 12 months —subverts each expectation of the drained true-crime style to deal with the scars that violence leaves on survivors’ households. 

The plot follows Indre (Gabija Bargailaite) and Paulius (Giedrius Kiela) as they journey via the nondescript city of Karmėlava, a sleepy suburb of Lithuania’s second metropolis, Kaunas, retracing the ultimate steps of Matas, a younger man near each of them, who was assaulted, kidnapped and killed in a horrific random assault 4 years prior. Like devotes following the stations of the cross, Indre and Paulius go to the spot the place Matas was kidnapped, discover the automotive he was kidnapped in, find the river the place the killer dumped his physique. They aren’t making an attempt to find the person accountable — we quickly study Matas’ assassin was caught, tried and imprisoned — however to grasp how such a factor may occur. 

“What I believe is the issue typically [with true-crime stories] is that this fascination with the perpetrator, as a result of by constructing a psychological portrait of the killer you more often than not humanize him and may find yourself sufferer blaming,” says Bareisa. “I needed to push this different narrative as a type of counterbalance. [I’m] much less within the crime itself than in what occurs round it and what occurs to the victims. How we cope with trauma and the distinction between particular person trauma and public trauma.”

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Bareisa additionally subverts the viewers’s dramatic expectations, taking pictures Pilgrims chronologically — there are not any flashbacks to the scene of the crime — and utilizing rigorously composed, almost static, establishing photographs. There isn’t a violence on display screen — producer Klementina Remeikaite notes one of many movie’s teenage actors, aged 13, attended the premiere “as a result of there’s nothing dangerous for her to see” — however Pilgrims maintains rigidity and suspense by slowly revealing the emotional connections between the characters, the sufferer and the crime. Because the story progresses, Indre, initially a facet determine, takes heart stage. Her trauma turns into the movie’s core. 

In its ultimate reel, Pilgrims pulls again additional to discover the impression the killing had on the neighborhood as a complete. As Indre and Paulius discover Karmėlava and discuss to its residents, it turns into clear that everybody participated within the occasion in a technique or one other and {that a} cloud of collective guilt hangs over the city. At one level, a neighborhood nonchalantly factors to a patch of bushes and recounts the story of a rape that occurred there, earlier than itemizing a collection of different atrocities which have occurred close by, from a person who slaughtered his household and set hearth to his residence, to a mass grave found after WWII. 

“That scene opened up the door for me to make the hyperlink between private tragedy and the tragedy of the neighborhood, and of the nation as a complete,” says Bareisa. “I believe we [in Lithuania] have an issue with dwelling on layers and layers of historical past, and this historical past just isn’t processed [we] hold forgetting.”

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This version of THR Presents is introduced by REASON8 Movies.



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