TKKF: Before Flying Back to Earth

TKKF: Before Flying Back to Earth


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Directed by Arūnas Matelis

Germany, Lithuania, 2005, documentary, 52 mins., Russian, Lithuanian with English subtitles, N-13

A gracefully expressive journey into the lives of children living with leukemia at a pediatric hospital in Vilnius, Lithuania. Children enter an alien world, bereft of color and warmth, populated with kind strangers. Their new toys are made from stainless steel and new friendships are formed in the crucible of the cancer ward.

The film is described as ‘a poetic, unsentimental Lithuanian documentary about the resilience of the human spirit.’ Its laconic style and simplicity or form have been likened to haiku by some critics. ‘Before Flying Back to the Earth’ is the most highly acclaimed Lithuanian documentary film and is considered one of the best documentary films of 2005 in the world.



Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary

European Film Academy nomination for best European documentary film

Silver Wolf at Amsterdam International Film Festival

Golden Dove at Leipzig International Film Festival

Main prize at Documenta Madrid International Film Festival

Great Seal at ZagrebDox International Film Festival

Special prize at Silverdocs International Film Festival

Brooklyn Film Festival Spirit Award

Main prize of the Visual Anthropology Festival in Parnu

Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize


Best Lithuanian film - Lithuanian Filmmakers Union prize

World art and inventors organizations PIN main prize – Golden Star

LT Identity prize

LNK Television prize Wing of Kindness

The main prize at Oberhausen Short Film Festival

Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas Award

WIPO Gold Medal for creativity


About the director:

Arūnas Matelis is a Lithuanian documentary film director and producer. In 1992, after studying Mathematics and graduating from filmmaking in the Lithuanian Music Academy, he established Studio Nominum, one of the first independent film production companies in Lithuania. Arūnas Matelis has directed 10 creative documentary shorts which have been awarded and selected for dozens of prominent film festivals, such as including Cannes, Rotterdam, Oberhausen, Torino, as well as screened in MoMA in New York and French Cinematheque.

The first medium-length documentary by Arūnas Matelis, "Before Flying Back to the Earth", received over 10 awards, among which the prestigious Directors’ Guild of America (DGA) Award, IDFA, DOK Leipzig, ZagrebDox, Documenta Madrid and a European Film Academy nomination.

With: Andrius and Edgaras, Rytis, Paula, Martynas, Mantukas, Deimantas, Edgaras, Pranas, Julius and their parents

Producers: Gerd Haag, Arūnas Matelis

DOP – Audrius Kemežys

Sound: Kipras Mašanauskas, Jonas Maksvytis, Viktoras Juzonis, Arūnas Matelis

Editing – Katharina Schmidt 

Assistant Director – Giedrė Beinoriūtė

The film is part of the program Cinema is created by people. Retrospective of cameraman Audrius Kemežys, an homage to Lithuanian cinematographer. Throughout his life, Audrius Kemežys has worked on over 30 films, both fiction and documentaries, by established Lithuaian film directors, which received a number of international awards.

His work was a continuation of the Lithuanian cinematographic tradition, yet he stands out as an innovator with a unique ability to see and capture the filmic reality of his characters in an ethical, poetic and comprehensive way.

In 2010 he received a Lithuanian Cinematographers' Union award for the Best cinematographer. In 2015 he was awarded the prize for the Best Cinematography and a masterly synthesis of photography and cinematography in the documentary film Master and Tatiana, as well as nominated for the National Culture and Arts Award. In 2017 he was awarded the Silver Crane for the Best Cinematography in the documentary film Woman and the Glacier.

Main sponsors of KIFF: Lithuanian Film Centre, Kaunas City Municipality, U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Canada Embassy.

Institutional partners: Ebmassy of Portugal in Denmark, Kaunas Culture Centre „Tautos namai“, Kaunas Film Centre „Romuva“, Film Centre „Cinamon“, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas Artists’ House, „Creative Europe“ MEDIA Desk.

Festival’s Daily – KAUNO DIENA

Festival’s News Site – 15

Informative Partners: “Kaunas pilnas kultūros”, LRT Opus, 370 and others.


Duration: 52 min.

Door opens before: 9 hours 20 min.

Persons under 13 years of age are not admitted.

Free entrance for children: NO.

Permission to take photos, record: YES.

Organizer: Visos mūzos, VšĮ.

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