The documentary 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and outside Lithuania, together with historical footage, its music and songs, participants’ personal recollections, and historical documents.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.
The work on our film is well underway and we are excited about how far we’ve come. We have completed 80% of our interviews in North America, and have collected some the archive and research material needed for our film, as well as completed some of the editing required, and the acquisition of required technology.
The completion of this work was only possible through the contributions made to our first Kickstarter campaign.
As I am sure many of you know, from following us on our web site, Facebook, and the press, that the work on this film does not stop there.
As we wait to hear back from grant committees we need to continue with our Lithuanian and European interviews. The urgency to complete this was made especially clear when two of our important interviewees, Grazina Miniotaite and Thomas Remeikis recently passed away. The unique knowledge and insight they would have imparted is forever gone. Jamila Raqib, of the Albert Einstein Institute, wrote the following to us about her last visit there:
“…Grazina was in our office a few weeks ago and we had a very good conversation about the field and the future of this work, and her own contribution to it. This is a terrible loss for our work...
I told her about your film and we watched your Kickstarter video together. She was pleased to learn of it, and to hear of your ongoing research…”
We are initiating our second Kickstarter campaign to help with the following costs: completing the remaining interviews in the US as well as Lithuania and Europe, acquisition of rights to the music integral to the non-violent revolution, and music original to the film, acquisition of additional historical archive footage and photographs as well as documents, editing and production costs.
As we have said before, no one on the team is retaining a salary while making this film. Our costs are based on services rendered. Although we have received materials and assistance at no cost, and are very grateful, this does not cover the costs described above.
We thank you in advance for your continued support of our film, and your additional investments that will help in reaching our goal!
For more information:
Important links: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1866427791/game-changer-lithuanias-nonviolent-revolution-ii
Read more in the special LTUworld.com issue: