Summer of Saingale

The Summer of Saingalė (Sangailės vasara) is a Lithuanian drama film from 2016. Lithuania selected it as its entry to the 2016 Academy Awards, but it was not nominated. It did, however, receive many other international awards.

The film tells the story of two young women, Saingalė and Austė. They meet at an air show: Saingalė wants to become a stunt pilot, but she’s held back by her lack of self confidence and probably depression—she self-harms, and has problems with her parents. Austė is the film’s manic pixie dream girl, showing Saingalė her true worth and trying to help her overcome her fears. The two also become lovers, in a plot point that’s still quite rare in Lithuanian films. (There are possibly only three other Lithuanian films about LGBTQ+ topics, all made by Romas Zabarauskas within the past 10 years.)

Though the film wasn’t recognized at the Oscars, the director, Alantė Kavaitė, won Best Director for International Drama at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016. At the Silver Cranes (Sidabrinė gervė), Lithuania’s film industry awards, Julija Steponaityte, who played Saingalė, won Best Actress, and the film itself won Best Film. The film also saw wide release at international film festivals.

The film’s two stars, Julija Steponaityte and Aistė Diržiūtė, are both pretty new to the world of acting and both already successful. Steponaityte has a shorter resume, but was universally lauded for Saingalė. Diržiūtė has acted in Lithuanian, Russian, and Latvian films since her film debut in 2015. She was nominated for several acting awards for Saingalė. Alantė Kavaitė, the film’s writer and director, has three full-length films to her name. She got her film education in Paris and has worked extensively with Pavel Lungin (Павел Лунгин), probably Russia’s most widely respected contemporary film director.

 

Director: Aistė Diržiūtė
Stars: Julija Steponaityte, Aistė Diržiūtė, Jūratė Sodytė, Martynas Budraitis
Production studios: Fralita Films, Les Films d’Antoine, Viking Film

 

The official trailer:

 

Summer of Saingale

Julie is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS’s Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.