Documentaries set in the Baltic States

by skorwid | created - 17 Oct 2018 | updated - 08 Apr 2020 | Public

A list of documentaries selected by the Baltic journalism production agency Balanced for foreign correspondents expanding their comprehension of the past and present everyday life in the Baltics. Dedicated to everyone in love with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

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1. Those Who Dare (2015 TV Movie)

63 min | Documentary, History, War

A personal tale of political courage

Director: Ólafur Rögnvaldsson | Stars: Mikhail Gorbachev, Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, Marju Lauristin, Lennart Meri

Votes: 11

Langauge: Islandic. Subtitles: English.

Langauge: French or German. Subtitles: English, German.

3. Rodeo (2018)

75 min | Documentary, Comedy, History

It's 1992 and the first free elections held in Estonia since World War II have to the surprise of all brought to power young and idealistic political forces. They are led by 32-year-old ... See full summary »

Directors: Kiur Aarma, Raimo Jõerand | Stars: Mart Laar, Tiit Pruuli, Jüri Luik, Heiki Kranich

Votes: 151

Language: Estonian, Finnish, Swedish, Russian, English.

4. D is for Division (2018)

87 min | Documentary

An archive photo from 1940 forms the starting point for an exploratory journey along the border between Latvia and the USSR, or today between the European Union and Russia. Navigating from ... See full summary »

Director: Davis Simanis Jr.

Votes: 20

Language: Latvian, English, Russian.

5. Confronting Holocaust Denial with David Baddiel (2020 TV Movie)

59 min | Documentary, History

Investigating the history and modern face of Holocaust denial.

Director: Laurence Turnbull | Star: David Baddiel

Votes: 69

6. Disco and Atomic War (2009)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary

59 Metascore

A story about growing up in the Soviet Union. The film tells the story of a strange kind of information war, where a totalitarian regime stands face to face with the heroes of popular ... See full summary »

Director: Jaak Kilmi | Stars: Kiur Aarma, Jaak Kilmi, Alo Kõrve, Jaan Tootsen

Votes: 485

Language: Estonian, Finnish, Russian, English. Subtiltes: English. Partly available on Youtube as 'Disko ja tuumasoda'.

7. Farewell, Herr Schwarz (2014)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary

72 Metascore

A documentary about the outcome of a decision made by a brother and sister in 1945. One missed meeting, two families, and three generations.

Director: Yael Reuveny | Stars: Yael Reuveny, Etty Reuveny, Shaul Reuveny, Oded Reuveny

Votes: 57

Langauge: German.

8. My Father the Spy (2019)

85 min | Documentary

As a young Soviet student in 1978, Ieva could not have predicted that a holiday visit to her father, Imants Lesinskis, then working in the Soviet mission at the United Nations in New York ... See full summary »

Directors: Gints Grube, Jaak Kilmi | Stars: Natalija Knipse, Ieva Lesinska, Imants Lesinskis, Marta Lesinska

Votes: 110

9. We can Be Gay Today: Baltic Pride 2013 (2014)

61 min | Documentary

A documentary about the Lithuanian Gay League and the 2013 Lithuanian LGBT rights parade, which was the first open march for equality in this 20 years-old country.

Directors: François Message, Nathalie Sibille

Votes: 16

Langauge: Lithuanian, English, Subtitles: English.

10. My Father the Banker (2015)

71 min | Documentary, Biography

A detective story about the reappearance of a millionaire lost in Latvia in the 1990s.

Director: Ieva Ozolina | Stars: Ieva Ozolina, Zenta Krumina, Ilga, Maris Abilevs

Votes: 268

Language: Latvian.

11. Two Mothers (2007)

87 min | Documentary

Filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim searches for his biological mother after discovering late in life that he was adopted.

Director: Rosa von Praunheim | Stars: Gertrud Mischwitzky, Rosa von Praunheim, Astrid Ruschlau, Agnese Luse

Votes: 48

Language: German.

12. Singing Grandmas (2010)

58 min | Documentary

Three elderly ladies - Maiga, Velta and Mrs.Tone - meet every Tuesday at a Culture House in a suburb of Riga to take part in rehearsals with 40-odd other ladies of the "Granny Choir". Some ... See full summary »

Director: Ilze Ramane | Stars: Ilga Berzina, Maiga Krumina, Ilga Ramane, Elza Margarita Tone

Langauge: Latvian.

13. When We Talk About KGB (2015)

73 min | Documentary, Drama

These are the personal stories that were left in shadow of grief for Soviet crimes and euphoria for the fight for freedom. In these testimonies everything counts, not only words, but also silences. Can we recognize it as our common memory?

Directors: Maxì Dejoie, Virginija Vareikyte

Votes: 40

Language: Lithuanian.

14. Flickor födda 1960 (1995)

58 min | Documentary

A film about five Latvian women who were all born the year 1960 and brought up under the Soviet Union regime. When the film starts the Soviet Union has fallen and Latvia is now an ... See full summary »

Director: Una Celma

Langauge: Latvian.

15. Butterfly City (2017)

96 min | Documentary

The portrayal of a city that refuses to die along with its defunct Soviet-era nuclear power plant. The mainly Russian speaking citizens there face identity issues in modern Lithuania. This ... See full summary »

Director: Olga Cernovaite

Votes: 26

Language: Russian. Available on Vimeo on Demand.

16. Tuulte tahutud maa (2018)

63 min | Documentary

A visually enchanting documentary that takes the audience on a thoughtful journey in Estonia's unique, vast and wondrous nature.

Director: Joosep Matjus | Star: Hannes Kaljujärv

Votes: 239

Language: Estonian.

17. The Good Nazi (2018 TV Movie)

52 min | Documentary, Biography, History

It tells the story of Major Karl Plagge, a Nazi officer who, during the Holocaust, was commandant of a forced labor camp called "HKP" in Vilnius, Lithuania. In reality, he was sheltering ... See full summary »

Directors: Ric Esther Bienstock, Yaron Niski | Star: Neil Bennett

Votes: 81

Langauge: English.

18. Out of the Forest (2004)

94 min | Documentary

From 1941 to 1944 tens of thousands of people, most of them Jewish, were shot in the killing pits in the Ponary Forest. The murders were documented in the diary of Kazimierz Sakowicz, a ... See full summary »

Directors: Yaron Kaftori, Limor Pinhasov

Langauge: Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Hebrew, English.

19. Memelland (2008 TV Movie)

90 min | Documentary

Add a Plot

Director: Volker Koepp

Votes: 8

Language: German.

Silent movie. Available on Youtube as 'The wall in Riga'

21. Ruch and Norie (2015)

65 min | Documentary

Documentary "Ruch and Norie" is a human interest story about two contrasting people striking up a surprising spiritual relationship. Japanese student Norie Tsuruta travels to Latvia to ... See full summary »

Director: Inara Kolmane | Stars: Marija Steimane Ruch, Norie Tsuruta

Votes: 28

Language: Latvian.

22. Victor (II) (2009)

52 min | Documentary

The only thing we can be sure of in this world is that one day we shall die. In spite of that, we tend to live our lives as if it was never going to happen. Yet there are many among us who ... See full summary »

Director: Andris Gauja

Langauge: Latvian.

23. Through the Needle (2014)

74 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

Biographical story about a 23 year old guy who is a heroin addict, and how it's ruining his life.

Director: Arturs Lapinskis | Star: Edijs Vitolins

Votes: 1,187

Langauge: Latvian, Subtitles: Russian. Available on Youtube.

24. Documentarian (2012)

82 min | Documentary

Inta is a brusque, crusty woman who lives alone on the edge of a picturesque marsh. One day her solitude is intruded upon by the arrival of a documentary filmmaker. In his eyes Inta is an ... See full summary »

Directors: Inese Klava, Ivars Zviedris

Votes: 139

Language: Latvian, Russian.

25. Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

A film diary divided into three episodes. In the first part Jonas Mekas tells about his time as emigrant in New York in 1950s, after leaving the home country of Lithuania. The second part ... See full summary »

Director: Jonas Mekas | Stars: Jonas Mekas, Adolfas Mekas, Pola Chapelle, Ken Jacobs

Votes: 1,050

Language: English. Partly available on Youtube.

26. Sweet Smoke of the Fatherland (2012)

79 min | Documentary, War

This film is a triptych with three stories, involving three characters. They live in different parts of Europe: Western Europe -Catalonia (Spain); Eastern Europe -Lithuania; and in the new ... See full summary »

Director: Mascha Novikova

Language: English.

27. Rewriting History (2012)


Against the backdrop of rising ultra-nationalism, Rewriting History is about taking action in the face of insurmountable odds, when two eccentric Jewish proffessors stand in the way of the ... See full summary »

Directors: Marc Radomsky, Danny Ben-Moshe

Votes: 8

Language: English.

28. The Green Musketeers (2015)

78 min | Documentary

"The Green Musketeers" is about a group of young people in Lithuania, who started a hiking club "Atgaja" in the mid eighties. They exited the reality formed by the Soviet society, into the ... See full summary »

Director: Jonas Ohman

Votes: 7

Language: Lithuanian. Subtitles: English. Available on Vimeo.

29. Lotman's World (2008)

59 min | Documentary, Animation, Biography

The world is in every person. Microcosms have no boundaries. They are exactly as big as the imagination of their owner. Juri Lotman's imagination was clearly very big. The entire universe ... See full summary »

Director: Agne Nelk

Votes: 16

Language: English, Russian, Estonian.

30. The Documents (2009 Video)

12 min | Documentary, Short

Lt Col Eduards Graudins was one of the group of army officers who founded independent Latvia in 1920. He died in a German concentration camp in 1945. This movie shows the presentation of ... See full summary »

Director: Ian Hart

Langauge: English, Latvian.

31. Estonian Skies: The Invisible Guides (2019)

27 min | Documentary, Short

Air traffic controllers are the leading figures in making worldwide air traffic flow safely and efficiently. They describe the most interesting elements of their job and show what they do behind the scenes to make air travel a pleasure.

Directors: Georg Liigand, Taavi-Martin Enno, Ragnar Rostok | Stars: Taavi-Martin Enno, Karel Hütt, Igor Iljin, Lauri Jaakson

Votes: 15

Language: Estonian.

32. Anthill (2015)

83 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

A portrait of a giant garage complex, located in the largest blockhouse area of Tallinn. Here 700 garage box owners form an extraordinary men's club, and vary from those who just keep their... See full summary »

Director: Vladimir Loginov

Votes: 68

Language: Estonian, Russian.

33. The Ancient Woods (2017)

85 min | Documentary

Filmed in one of the last remaining patches of old growth forest in Lithuania, The Ancient Woods is a place where the boundaries of time melt and everything that exists does not wither or ... See full summary »

Director: Mindaugas Survila

Votes: 582

Silent movie.

34. Animus Animalis (a story about People, Animals and Things) (2018)

70 min | Documentary

A taxidermist, a deer farmer and a museum worker live in the environment in which the line between reality and artificiality has become imperceptible. It's a world where not only deer and ... See full summary »

Director: Aiste Zegulyte

Votes: 123

Langauge: Lithuanian.

35. Red Terror on the Amber Coast (2009 TV Movie)

53 min | Documentary, War

Lithuanian survivors of Soviet occupation post WWII tell how they survived and struggled against this formidable foe.

Director: Ken Gumbert

Language: English.

Langauge: English. Available on Youtube.

37. Bridges of Time (2018)

78 min | Documentary

Kristine Briede and Audrius Stonys's meditative documentary essay portrays the less-remembered generation of cinema poets of the Baltic New Wave. With finesse, they push beyond the barriers... See full summary »

Directors: Kristine Briede, Audrius Stonys | Stars: Herz Frank, Uldis Brauns, Ivars Seleckis, Mark Soosaar

Votes: 57

Language: Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Hebrew.

Language: Estonian.

39. The Sun Sets in the East (I) (2018)

82 min | Documentary

The film contrasts present-day Lithuania with extracts from a peasant's diary from 1984/85.

Director: Alexander Belinski

Language: Lithuanian.

Language: Lithuanian.

41. The Field of Magic (2011)

62 min | Documentary

The "Field of Magic" is a docu-poem about people living for over two decades in the Buda forest, near the closed down Kariotiskes dump in Lithuania. After four years of work, this film ... See full summary »

Director: Mindaugas Survila

Votes: 68

Language: Lithuanian, Polish, Russian.

42. The Singing Revolution (2006)

Unrated | 94 min | Documentary, History, Music

Most people don't think about singing when they think about revolutions. But song was the weapon of choice when, between 1986 and 1991, Estonians sought to free themselves from decades of ... See full summary »

Directors: James Tusty, Maureen Castle Tusty | Stars: Heiki Ahonen, Gustav Ernesaks, Linda Hunt, Mari-Ann Kelam

Votes: 614 | Gross: $0.33M

Langauge: Lithuanian.

43. How We Played the Revolution (2012)

70 min | Documentary, History, Music

It was the year 1984 when a group of architects decided to organize a one night music band as a New Year's party joke in Kaunas, Lithuania. The joke proved to be so good that rumors about ... See full summary »

Director: Giedre Zickyte

Votes: 229

Langauge: Lithuanian.

44. Soviet Hippies (2017)

75 min | Documentary, History

The hippie movement that captivated hundreds of thousands of young people in the West had a profound impact on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Director: Terje Toomistu | Stars: Valya Hitchhiker, Aksel Lampmann, Alexander Lipnitsky, Aare Loit-Babai

Votes: 141

45. Ants Eskola: Olla või mitte olla (2009)

96 min | Documentary

Story of prince Hamlet touched deepest and most painful spots in the soul of my grandfather, actor Ants Eskola. To him Hamlet's monologue "To be or not to be" did not simply express the ... See full summary »

Director: Kristjan Paul Esperk Virve | Stars: Janek Joost, Hele Kõrve, Mait Malmsten, Marko Matvere

Language: Estonian.

Langauge: German. Available on Youtube.