2019.11.05 10:11

Vilnius looks to attract international filmmakers to old prison

Ignas Jačauskas, BNS 2019.11.05 10:11

A former prison complex in central Vilnius is catching the attention of filmmakers and may attract even more international film and TV projects to Lithuania. Vilnius Film Office plans to present the Lukiškės Prison in global industry events.

The Lukiškės complex, which includes a hospital and an Orthodox church, was built in the early 20th century and used as a prison until this year.

The state enterprise Turto Bankas (Property Bank), which manages state-owned properties, is to produce a concept by spring on ways to adapt the former prison building, occupying an area of almost 2 hectares, for other uses.

Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevičius says Lithuania could be the location for another high-profile series, after Netflix shot ‘Young Wallander’ in Vilnius.

“We will try to hand over the management of the Lukiškės prison to Mūsų Amatai and they could use Lukiškės more effectively. We will wait for Turto Bankas to produce the final concept. Tours, receptions now take place here, and TV series are shot. Vilnius Film Office is helping us, they are [...] presenting the prison at international exhibitions,” the minister said.

Jūratė Pazikaitė, the director of Vilnius Film Office, says the prison is a multifunctional place that is quite unique in the world, and with filmmakers' recent interest in Lithuania it could convince them to pick Lithuania when choosing among shooting locations.

Vilnius Film Office has produced a virtual reality image of the prison and plans to present it at the American Film Market, the world's largest film industry event, this week, as well as a similar event in London in December and also in Berlin and Cannes next year.

“We would really like this object to be left for the film industry. As competition among countries is huge, and filmmakers are coming to Lithuania for the whole package of people, tax breaks, locations and infrastructure. That could give the country an advantage in attracting international film projects,” Pazikaitė said.

The last inmates were moved out of the Lukiškės prison in late June.

In all, the prison complex consists of six buildings located near the parliament building, the Supreme Court, the national library and the Foreign Ministry.

The complex, which incorporates a prison, a hospital, production and administration buildings and the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church, has been on the list of cultural heritage since 2002.