Before Flying Back to the Earth

"Before Flying Back to the Earth" (52 min., Documentary, 2005, 35 mm, colour, video, with „TagTraum“ and "Nominum").

With: Andrius and Edgaras, Rytis, Paula, Martynas, Mantukas, Deimantas, Edgaras, Pranas, Julius and their parents

Directed by: Arunas Matelis

Produced by: Gerd Haag, Arunas Matelis

DOP: Audrius Kemezys

Music: Kipras Masanauskas

Editing: Katharina Schmidt

Photos by: Egle Melinauskiene in association with Arunas Matelis, Audrius Kemezys

Sound: Jonas Maksvytis in association with Viktoras Juzonis, Arunas Matelis

Assistant Directors: Mindaugas Mozuraitis, Giedre Beinoriute, Gintas Smilga, Andrius Trukanas

Production manager: Algimante Mateliene

Line producer: Cornelia Volmer

Commissioning editor: Doris Hepp

Language: Lithuanian, Russian


A gracefully expressive journey into the lives of children living with leukemia at a pediatric hospital in Vilnius, Lithuania. The children enter into an alien world, bereft of color and warmth, but populated with kind strangers. Their new toys are invented out of stainless steel, and new friendships are formed in the crucible of the cancer ward.

The film is described as ‘a poetic, unsentimental Lithuanian documentary about the resilience of the human spirit.’ Its laconic style and formal simplicity have been likened to haiku by some critics. ‘Before Flying Back to the Earth’ is the most highly acclaimed Lithuanian documentary film and is considered one of the best documentary films of 2005 in the world.


Directors Guild of America award for “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in DOCUMENTARY”;

European Film Academy nomination for best European documentary film;

Amsterdam International Film Festival main prize "Silver Wolf";

Leipzig International Film Festival main prize of "Golden Dove";

“Documenta Madrid” International Film Festival main prize;

"ZagrebDox International Film Festival main prize of the" Great Seal "; Silverdocs International Film Festival special prize;

Brooklyn Film Festival Spirit Award;

Visual Anthropology Festival in Parnu main prize;

National Arts and Culture Prize;

2005 Best Lithuanian film - Lithuanian Filmmakers Union prize;

World art and inventors organizations "PIN" main prize "Golden Star";

Prize "LT Identity";

LNK Kindness wing ";

The main prize Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Germany;

Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas;

WIPO- WIPO Gold Medal for creativity;

Arunas Matelis about the film:

‘Anybody who starts his journey in this children’s hospital, starts it here and in the same way. The first examination, waiting, a folder full of documents and a trip up to the third floor. In the beginning, everyone, consciously or not, try to avoid the department on the third floor by getting lost in the labyrinth of the corridors or even pressing the wrong button in the elevator.

Yet, later on, nearly everyone will confirm the experience of my own and my family and agree that the cancer department was the place where not only the major hardships of our lives have awaited us, but also the place where we have spent our brightest and most meaningful days.

Days that we were given to get ready, hope and wait for our fateful flight:

- Back… Home… to Us… to the Earth.’