Gamechanger: Lithuania’s Nonviolent Revolution is a new documentary film about how one small nation’s intense desire for independence unified people of diverse politics, professions, religions, ethnicities, and citizenships into an inspiringly successful nonviolent freedom revolution.
On a cold wet night in January of 1991, young Virginijus Druskis joined the unarmed crowds holding hands and singing, while protecting the TV tower, Lithuania’s center of communication, and was one of the first shot to death by Soviet forces ramming into the peaceful gathering with tanks and open fire. Nine months later on September 6, 1991 the Soviet Union recognized Lithuania’s independence.
"The mouse roared and the bear retreated. How did that happen?"
This film provides an intimate picture of the independence struggle through interviews with participants both inside and outside Lithuania, together with historical footage, its music and songs, participants’ personal recollections, and historical documents.
It highlights the ability to gain freedom and evolve into a democracy by unifying the most diverse group of people towards a common goal while respecting that diversity using nonviolent resistance in unique ways.
A Bit of History
Between 1940 and 1945 the Baltics states suffered occupations by the USSR and Nazi Germany, finally being occupied by the USSR and incorporated into it as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. For Lithuania, this was not the first time. Lithuania’s struggle for freedom dates back almost three centuries. By the 13th century it had become a powerful Grand Duchy, at one time stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, remaining free until it was divided and became part of the Russian Empire in 1795. Between 1795 and 1918 nonviolent resistance efforts and uprisings took place in Lithuania with various degrees of success. Lithuania became a sovereign nation again on February 16th, 1918 and remained so until 1944.
Armed resistance against the occupying forces held on from 1944 until 1952 when it was ultimately violently crushed. Starting in the 1960’s, a period of nonviolent “underground” resistance began. Underground printing presses printed pamphlets, petitions, books, and letters chronicling the struggle for freedom of religion and absence of human rights. The self-immolation of Roman Kalanta in 1972 brought this struggle to the attention of the world, and the 70’s witnessed a growth in the movements facilitated by the de-Stalinization occurring at the time.
The 80’s saw increased efforts culminating in the organization of Sajudis, a unified movement that strategically leveraged unique nonviolent resistance strategies and methods in a focused way. Some of these strategies included the underground publication of resistance literature, spontaneous gatherings at which the people sang folksongs, and the Baltic Way:a line of people holding hands that stretched all the way from Lithuania to Estonia, the use of song and art, and political shrewdness – all of which carried great risk to each participant. Nonviolent resistance was a gamechanger that successfully resulted in Lithuania’s independence.
From first time producer/director Rima Gungor, Gamechanger: Lithuania’s Nonviolent Revolution analyzes the 47 year history of Lithuania’s struggle for freedom, its evolution from violent resistance to nonviolent resistance, and how its success can serve as an inspiration to other movements against oppression. Interviews with participants in Lithuania and in the Lithuanian diaspora, supporters in the governments of other nations, academics, politicians, poets, songwriters, filmmakers, students, people from all political colors and all walks of life, from President Landsbergis, to Dr. Gene Sharp, historical footage, documents, and the songs and poems of the revolution, provide a close-up view and insight into these efforts and what made them coalesce into a successful push for independence.
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Risks and challenges
THE NEXT FEW MONTHS
Currently we are in the process of interviewing persons, both within Lithuania and outside of it, relevant to the historical non-violent movements from the 50's to 1991. These are in addition to the ones that have already been recorded. We will be hard at work shooting these interviews as well as filming on location in Lithuania in the coming months. We are collecting the music, songs, poetry, that were an integral part of Lithuania's singing revolution - these will be integrated into an original score by an up and coming composer. We will also be visiting archives for historical film footage, collecting additional documentation, and researching. All of this will be integrated into the final version of the film. Kickstarter pledges will be used to cover production costs, and the costs for the archival footage and documents.
Creating a feature length documentary is an expensive and challenging process and will continue to be so through completion. We are working hard on generating the funds we need to continue with the film and so far we've had some incredible and extremely inspiring help from colleagues and friends all over the world. Many doors have been opened for us, but this is only the beginning.
No one is being paid to make this film, we are trying to generate the funds to continue filming and to obtain archive footage. We've done everything within our financial means to get to this point. We are about to reach the more difficult stages of production which put the film together, adding in the archive footage, and adding in the new interviews, and the relevant music and score. Later on we will need to put the film through post production after clearing the archive costs and the costs of marketing the film at film festivals, online production, and putting it onto DVDs.
All the funds we generate will be used for these costs:
1) Finish filming the interviews and related footage.
2) Obtain the best possible archive footage, as well as any additional documents necessary to the film, and any additional research that may be needed.
3) Producing a high quality film by using the proper post production techniques, online edit, grade, dub, and DVD. This Kickstarter page will jump start this process.
4) We need to spread the word and message of the film at film festivals and within the international community. We believe we have the makings of a great documentary, one that can make a real impact around the world. However, one of the biggest challenges will be getting this film out there and noticed.
This film is an entirely independent production. The people working on the film have full time jobs outside of this documentary, however, they believe in the story this film tells. We've had no access to conventional funding at this time. To the point at which we are now, this project has been self-funded out of our own pockets.
Game Changer: Lithuania's Non-Violent Revolution is the story of one small country's relentless push to freedom and its choice to use nonviolence as a means to regain its independence from the Soviet Union. It shows how a strong will to use peaceful resistance exclusive of any violence can effect an incredible change and bring about freedom and democracy.
We believe that Kickstarter is the best place to get the word out about the film and get the funding that it needs to be completed.
We've created a list of perks we can offer you if you are ready to make a pledge. If we can reach our goal of $10,000 to continue with this film, we will be able to describe this extraordinary and inspiring historical event and the people who made it happen in a unique way. We can exceed our target and if we do, it will allow us to make an even better film, and distribute this film more widely.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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