The Pažaislis Church and Monastery Complex in Kaunas (Lithuania) is the winner of the fourth edition of the EUFCN Location Award, the award for best European location in the film and TV industries organized by EUFCN, in collaboration with Cineuropa.
Situated on the Kaunas Reservoir Peninsula, the Monastery helped to recreate the splendid and tumultuous reign of Empress Catherine II of Russia (Helen Mirren) in the HBO and Sky Atlantic miniseries Catherine the Great.
Photo by Aurelijus Silkinis
The award was received by Kaunas Film Office representatives Aurelijus Silkinis and Goda Gajauskaitė during the EUFCN Location Award Ceremony at the European Film Market 2021. “We are really glad to receive this award. There is no doubt that the EUFCN Location Award will contribute to revealing the uniqueness of Kaunas region even more and will increase the international visibility not only in the field of film production, but also in film tourism. We would like to thank HBO, SKY Atlantic, director Philip Martin, film producers and the entire crew.”
Valerio Caruso, Director of Cineuropa, stresses that the Pažaislis Monastery, built and decorated four centuries ago by Italian artists, is a marvellous example of the circulation of culture in Europe throughout time, despite wars and divisions. Today, films and tv series represent a powerful and unifying medium, crossing divisions to build a better world. “The transformation of the Pažaislis Church and Monastery Complex to host the production of the HBO/Sky miniseries Catherine the Great was a remarkable accomplishment worthy of this award.”
Lori Balton, International Location Scout, Co-Founder and Past President of the LMGI, has also shared her thoughts about the Lithuanian location: “While it took a while to correctly pronounce “Pažaislis”, my Lithuanian ancestry had me determined! The 17th-century baroque Monastery afforded such a visual complexity level and scale to Catherine the Great. Coupled with Lithuania’s incentives, the compelling depth of its historic locations make it a winner through and through. I hope for a reason to scout it in person one day.”
“EUFCN represents a window into filming Europe for foreign producers, and as such, the Location Award is a powerful way how to focus on stunning and remarkable filming friendly locations,” says Pavlina Zipkova, co-president of the EUFCN. “It also helps us to spread the word about the work of film commissioners, who really are mediators and negotiators between governmental institutions and filmmakers. If all that work results in such beautiful locations put on the screen, it is a great feeling,” adds Zipkova.
During the first phase of the competition, EUFCN film commission members had the opportunity to submit one location from a film, a TV series or a documentary shot in their country and released between July 2nd 2019 and September 20th 2020.
The EUFCN Location Award Jury, a five-member jury of distinguished professionals composed by Lori Balton (International Location Scout, Co-Founder and former President of the LMGI), Valerio Caruso (Director of Cineuropa), Matthijs Wouter Knol (Director of the European Film Academy, former Director of the European Film Market), Julian Newby (Founder and Editorial Director of Boutique Editions Ltd.), and Julie-Jeanne Régnault (Secretary General at EFAD – European Film Agencies), selected the 5 locations in the shortlist.
The general public had then the chance to vote for their favourite on the Cineuropa website. One lucky name picked among the voters will experience the location in the most authentic way by spending two nights in Monte Pacis, the elegant hospitality complex in the Pažaislis Monastery.
Locations of Catherine the Great, same as a handful of other films shot in Kaunas, are available on the Kaunas in Film guide published in both Lithuanian and English. Check the guide online here.
The finalists of the EUFCN Location Award 2020:
Banská Štiavnica for Dracula – Slovak Film Commission (SLOVAKIA)
Lake Resia near Curon for Curon – IDM Film Fund & Commission from South Tyrol (ITALY)
Moritzburg Castle for Charlie’s Angels – MDM Film Commission (GERMANY)
Pažaislis Church and Monastery Complex for Catherine the Great – Kaunas Film Office (LITHUANIA)
Prilep Area for Vrba (Willow) – North Macedonia Film Agency (NORTH MACEDONIA).
The European Film Commissions Network is a non-profit association that supports and promotes European film industry and culture. It currently represents 94 European film commissions and film institutions from 31 different countries.