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2020.09.14 08:00

Netflix's Young Wallander showcases non-UNESCO side of Vilnius

LRT.lt2020.09.14 08:00

Vilnius has collected another significant film title under its belt. Young Wallander, a new Netflix original series based on Henning Mankell’s best-selling mystery novels, came to life in, among other locations, Šeškinė, a residential neighbourhood turned into the Swedish city of Malmö, according to a press release from Go Vilnius.

While the Lithuanian capital is usually celebrated for its UNESCO-listed Old Town and the surrounding natural landscapes, the producers wanted to film somewhere with a certain appearance and unique history. The suburban neighbourhood of Šeškinė proved to be the best choice, with its historically diverse and incredibly cinematic buildings.

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“When trying to find Malmö in Vilnius, we scouted and debated several districts,” said Jonas Špokas, the CEO of Baltic Locations and the supervising location manager for the series.

“The director decided to go for Šeškinė because of how strong an impression the surroundings made on the screen. To make it as immersive as possible, the scenes inside Wallander’s flat were actually filmed in one of the flats in the district. A peek through the window gives the same view that the audience will witness in the crucial scenes happening outside, which adds layers of realism.”

A historic suburb of Vilnius, Šeškinė was first mentioned in historical records in the 14th century. For a long time, it was a sparsely-populated area of dispersed wooden houses and hills, often used as natural barriers to defend the city from invading armies: the German crusaders, Russians, Swedes, French and others, as well as during the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794.

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Šeškinė was incorporated into the City of Vilnius in 1955 and, starting in the 1970s, was developed into a residential neighbourhood of multi-storey apartment blocks.

Today, Šeškinė is a growing neighbourhood – with over 36,000 residents, it is one of the most populous and vibrant districts in Vilnius. It is celebrated for its diverse architectural heritage – from Soviet-era apartment blocks, red-brick buildings, a modern-style church, and contemporary offices to one of the largest shopping malls in Eastern Europe, Akropolis. Its best-kept secret is a sculpture park in a nearby forest developed by Mykolas Sauka, a well-known Lithuanian artist.

“Shooting in such a densely populated neighbourhood is rather difficult. It requires a lot of understanding, goodwill and patience both from the residents and the filming crew,” said Jūratė Pazikaitė, the director of the Vilnius Film Office.

“In the end, the collaboration proved to be successful, we even managed to cast a few hundred locals as extras, while the creators, in return for the community’s support, improved the surroundings. We are truly glad that Young Wallander found its home in Šeškinė.”

Vilnius has previously served as a backdrop for HBO and Sky’s award-winning miniseries Chernobyl (2019). Other shows filmed in Vilnius include HBO and Sky's Catherine the Great (2019), Netflix’s Tokyo Trial (2016) and The Last Czars (2019), as well as parts of the fourth season of Stranger Things.

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Go Vilnius, the city's development and promotion agency, has launched a website for those interested in following the footsteps of Young Wallander in Šeškinė.

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