Stories about animals preparing for a posthumous beauty contest. "Is it possible to breathe life into something that has passed away?" asks Aiste Zygulyte in a film in which the lead roles are played by stuffed animals. With taxidermy experiencing something of a renaissance, the Lithuanian director tries to find out what’s behind it. Is it part of a broader movement—revitalizing neglected neighborhoods, rebuilding ruined factories and saving archaic handicrafts? Or, on the contrary, is it a reflection of a postmodern world where the boundary between reality and imitation is unclear? In the art of taxidermy, there are only two criteria that matter: the animal has to be in a natural pose, and it has to look alive. Enticing us in museums of natural history and hunting display cases alike can be found graceful stags, lurking alligators and pheasants with a piercing view through glass eyes—behind which is human pride. The objectification of animals (both living and dead) is just as ruthless as humankind’s domination of nature. Ideologically, Zygulyte’s film has much in common with Agnieszka Holland’s Spoor and Ulrich Seidl’s Safari. Visually, it’s reminiscent of a baroque still life—life itself, and even the denial thereof.
Vilnius IFF 2019 – Cineuropa Award
Was born in 1986 in Panevėžys, Lithuania, where she attended Fine Arts School. Later she studied photography at the Vilnius University, after which she started directing at the Lithuanian Music and Theater Academy. She has made several fictional and documentary short films, Animus Animalis is her first feature-length documentary.
2010 Vita (short)
2011 Lygumos (short, music video)
2011 Nordic Elegy (short)
2012 Nikodemas (short)
2013 Tapatumai (short)
2018 Animus Animalis (historie ludzi, zwierząt i rzeczy) / Animus Animalis (A Story About People, Animals and Things)