January 13th, 1991, is a day that Lithuanians will never forget. It's a reminder of the Lithuanian people's peaceful fight against Soviet oppression and the thirst for independence. The price of freedom was paid by blood. Still, because of these heroes, every other person and I in Lithuania are free to create our own vision of a happy tomorrow.
When the 30th anniversary of this event was coming by, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Stepdraw and me to tell the story of that dreadful night – an emotional and inspiring piece that touches the heart and inspires other oppressed nations to peacefully take their freedom back.
Karoliniškės – a residential district of Vilnius, densely populated by Soviet-era apartment buildings, was where the assault started. Late at night, Soviet tanks started moving towards the TV tower, with an order to shut down the national television and, by doing that – deny us the right of free speech.
Soviet tanks entering the streets ↓
I knew that this heavy theme required a strong design aesthetic that beautifully portrayed the greyness, darkness, and sadness of the Soviet era, yet allowed to show the hope and brightness, kept deep inside people's hearts.
Gritty textures, light, and shadows helped to blend the illustrations and authentic photographs seamlessly together.
13 peaceful protesters sacrificed their lives; most of them were shot, some were crushed by tanks... But their lives did not go in vain. Because of these gruesome events, the Lithuanian people became even more united, received a lot of support from other nations, and were able to defend their independence.
We chose not to show all the horrific images but rather tell the story by symbolic visuals.
Every year Lithuanians remember the events of this significant night. Lighting candles and singing songs together for 30 years already, wearing a blossom of a forget-me-not pin – an official symbol for the remembrance of the Freedom Defenders' Day.
It was an honor to create an animation for such an occasion.
Client → Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Production studio → Stepdraw
Producer → Dalius Kederys
Creative concept → Dovilė Macijauskaitė, Jorigė Kuzmaitė
Script → Jorigė Kuzmaitė
Art direction & illustration → Otilija Morozaitė
Storyboard → Otilija Morozaitė
Animation → Ignas Kairelis, Otilija Morozaitė
Sound design → Juozapas Liaugaudas