Winner of the Silver Crane Award for best Lithuanian short film, The Balcony is a bitter-sweet tale of young friendship and dysfunctional families. A rose-tinted recreation of 1980s Lithuania. The era is seen through the eyes of two children and the director appears to be yearning for a simpler era. Those in the west seeing The Balcony for the first time may be surprised that the director has deliberately chosen to present a version of the Soviet era which runs counter to the more familiar narratives filled with oppression and poverty.
Director Giedrė Beinoriūtė’s recreation of the 1980s is filled with values that she feels have been lost in the years since independence. Directing films and documentaries since 1997, Soviet rule and the consequences of its dismantling is a recurrent theme in her work. Beinoriūtė’s 2008 film The Balcony is an unashamedly sentimental celebration of innocence.
The film is set in a nondescript housing estate in an unspecified part of Lithuania. Rolanas’ parents have recently divorced and he has had to leave his hometown and move to a new district. Settling in he soon becomes friends with the young girl living in the neighbouring flat. Two shy and insecure children find that they have much in common.
The Balcony offers a glimpse of childhood under Soviet rule that may shatter many preconceptions. It is an effective dramatisation of children coming to terms with the breakup of their families.
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