Appropriating gods - the weakness of small nations

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Sometimes we tend to underrate our people, we are inclined to hand them over to others. You live in New York and they say that you have become a New Yorker, in France - then you have become French. This is a susceptibility of small nations. Big ones never hand over or underrate their people.

The quote belongs to Jonas Mekas, a Lithuanian filmmaker and the co-founder of Anthology Film Archives in New York, one of the world's largest and most important repositories of avant-garde films. Mr Mekas has just returned to Lithuania for a while to open Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center in the capital Vilnius.

As usual, political matters were not avoided (politicians are always there where big names are present). The ex mayor of the capital Arturas Zuokas, demonstrating ambitions to rally for the presidency of Lithuania, yet facing constant criticism about his financial supporters, has been immensely involved in the opening of the center and also was one of the initiators of a request submitted to our president to grant Mr Mekas the citizenship of Lithuania (dual citizenship is very hard to get in my country). The citizenship was granted indeed. The journalists in the meantime kept quizzing Mr Mekas what were his feelings about the citizenship and Mr Zuokas. The film-maker managed to avoid any political statements and keeps shooting. One movie a day. Highly recommend watching. Avant-garde cinema par excellence.

I would like to mention here that the issue of belonging to Lithuania and the passport as a sign of acknowledgment is a bizarre one. As far as I understand, because of Soviet Union Mr Mekas lost Lithuanian citizenship (since this country ceased to exist until 1990), but the possession of it would not change anything. Figures like him are citizens of the world with their roots geographically undistinguishable. He left the country at the age of 22. And although he claims that he has never renounced Lithuanian citizenship, it is a pity the matter has become of great political importance. And it seems that everybody apart Mr Mekas himself are greatly involved in the subject. In 2050 Lithuanians will probably boast him as one of the greatest Lithuanians ever, although the future of his Visual Arts Centre is still under question and many people in rural areas haven't got a clue who he is. To expand on Mr Mekas' remark, small nations need their heroes otherwise they don't feel like they exist. They must claim their gods back.

I can see some parallels with Ireland here, but I'm frightened to despise its gods.

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