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Fintech startup Revolut is now officially a bank. While the startup initially expected to get its European banking license during the first half of 2018, the company has finally come out of the regulatory tunnel with a license in hand. As expected, Revolut applied for a license through the Bank of Lithuania and is leveraging […]
techcrunch.com | 12/13/18
Born in Lithuania, raised in South Africa and working in Britain, he made large strides in understanding the structure of proteins, DNA and more.
www.nytimes.com | 11/30/18
LaMelo Ball's stint in Lithuania has made him INELIGIBLE for one of the biggest honors at the high school level -- the McDonald's All-American Game ... officials tell TMZ Sports. The All-American game features the top 24 players from around the…

www.tmz.com | 11/10/18
An illustrated account of my grandmother’s escape from Lithuania as Europe was heading toward the Holocaust.
www.nytimes.com | 11/6/18

Members of the Academy’s documentary branch received a generous gift from AMPAS on Friday: 77 new films that had qualified in this year’s Best Documentary Feature category.

And it turned what had been a modest year for docs — with a total of 83 films included in June, July, August and September groups — into one in which the number of eligible films that voters would need to watch nearly doubled.

The Academy also promised voters in the branch to expect a final batch of films in early November — which, if it hits double digits, will set a new record in the category.

Also Read: 'Free Solo' Leads Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Nominations

The previous high, set last year, was 170 films. With 160 already on the Oscar eligibility list and one additional (though likely small) batch yet to come, this year’s crop will give voters a lot of work to do before they vote in early December to narrow the field to a 15-film short list.

This year’s films are also coming later than usual; in the past, the largest group of films typically came in September, with the field being topped off by a smaller batch in October.

For years, doc-branch voters received periodic shipments of DVD screeners, which would start after new members were invited in June and would typically end in October. These days, though, the qualifying films are made available not on physical screeners, but for streaming on the Academy’s secure member website.

Each month beginning in June, branch members are sent an email detailing which films have been added to the site — and to ensure that every eligible film is seen, members are also randomly assigned certain films to watch.

(Each member is free to see any films not on his or her assigned list as well.)

Also Read: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Mr. Rogers Will Be Competing at the Cinema Eye Honors

June’s batch of films, which included “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and “RBG,” consisted of only 13 docs. July’s, including “Seeing Allred” and “Three Identical Strangers,” was made up of 19. August’s 18 included “The Bleeding Edge,” “Dark Money,” “Eating Animals” and “Generation Wealth.” September’s total jumped to 33, including “Crime + Punishment,” “Free Solo,” “Hal” and “The King.”

But with 77 films on a list members received near the end of the month, October dwarfed all of those. It brought in such significant Oscars contenders as “Fahrenheit 11/9,” “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” “Hillbilly,” “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” “Maria by Callas,” “Monrovia, Indiana,” “On Her Shoulders,” “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” and “Tea With the Dames.”

It also included several films that have qualified in the doc-feature category by being submitted by their home country in the Oscars foreign-language race: Switzerland’s “Eldorado,” Palestine’s “Ghost Hunting,” Panama’s “Ruben Blades Is Not My Name,” Austria’s “The Waldheim Waltz,” Lithuania’s “Wonderful Losers: A Different World” and Ecuador’s doc/narrative hybrid, “A Son of Man.”

Along with the features, Oscars doc-branch voters are also given access to a group of short documentaries each month — and again, October’s group was the largest. A total of 124 short films have qualified so far, with 24 made accessible to voters in July, 18 in August, 18 in September and 44 in October.

Also Read: 'Free Solo,' 'Minding the Gap,' 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' Land IDA Documentary Nominations

Here is the complete list of films that have qualified and have been made available to Oscar doc voters so far. This is not the final list of eligible films, which the Academy will announce once the final group of films goes to members in early November.

“Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow”
“Active Measures”
“Amazing Grace”
“American Chaos”
“Andy Irons: Kissed by God”
“Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco”
“Avicii: True Stories”

“Bali: Beats of Paradise”
“Bathtubs Over Broadway”
“Better Angels”
“Believer”
“Bill Coors: The Will to Live”
“Bisbee ’17”
“The Bleeding Edge”
“Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat”
“Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine”

“Call Her Ganda”
“Charm City”
“Chef Flynn”
“The China Hustle”
“Christian Audigier the Vif”
“The Cleaners”
“Communion”
“Crime + Punishment”

“Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders”
“The Dawn Wall”
“Dark Money”
“The Distant Barking of Dogs”
“Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes”
“Drug$”

“Eating Animals”
“Eldorado”

“Fahrenheit 11/9”
“Fail State”
“Family in Transition”
“Far From the Tree”
“Filmworker”
“The First Patient”
“Foreign Land”
“40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie”
“Free Solo”

“Garry Winograd: All Things Are Photographable”
“Generation Wealth”
“Ghost Hunting”
“Ghosthunter”
“The Gilligan Manifesto”
“The Gospel According to Andre”
“Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami”
“The Great Buster: A Celebration”

“Hal”
“Half the Picture”
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”
“The Heart of Nuba”
“Hillbilly”
“The Homeless Chorus Speaks”
“Hondros”
“Howard”

“In the Land of Pomegranates”
“In Search of Greatness”
“Inventing Tomorrow”
“Invisible Hands”
“Itzhak”

“Jane Fonda in Five Acts”
“John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection”
“The Judge”

“Kangaroo: A Love Hate Story”
“Killer Bees”
“The King”
“King in the Wilderness”
“Kusama – Infinity”

“The Last Race”
“Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy”
“Letter From Masanjia”
“Licu, A Romanian Story”
“Living in the Future’s Past”
“Liyana”
“Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle”
“Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story”
“Love, Cecil”
“Love, Gilda”
“Love Is Tolerance – Tolerance Is Love – Make Tolerance Great Again”

“Making the Five Heartbeats”
“Maria by Callas”
“Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.”
“McQueen”
“Minding the Gap”
“Monrovia, Indiana”
“The Most Unknown”

“New Moon”
“93Queen”
“Nossa Chape”

“Of Fathers and Sons”
“Of Love & Law”
“On Her Shoulders”
“Opera About Poland”
“The Opera House”
“The Oslo Diaries”
“The Other Side of Everything”

“The Panama Papers”
“Path of Blood”
“People’s Republic of Desire”
“Pick of the Litter”
“Piripkura”
“Police Killing”
“Pope Francis – A Man of His Word”
“The Price of Everything”
“The Price of Free”

“Qiu (Inmates)”
“Quincy”

“The Rachel Divide”
“The Raft”
“RBG”
“Recovery Boys”
“Restoring Tomorrow”
“Reversing Roe”
“Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind”
“Ruben Blades Is Not My Name”

“Samouni Road”
“Saving Brinton”
“Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland”
“The Road Movie”
“Science Fair”
“Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood”
“Searching for Ingmar Bergman”
“Seeing Allred”
“The Sentence”
“Shirkers”
“Shot in the Dark”
“The Silence of Others”
“Sisters of the Wilderness”
“A Son of Man”
“Songwriter”
“Stan”
“Studio 54”
“Summer in the Forest”

“Tea With the Dames”
“That Summer”
“That Way Madness Lies … “
“They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead”
“This Is Congo”
“This Is Home: A Refugee Story”
“Three Identical Strangers”
“Transformer”
“Travel Ban”
“The Trial”
“Trust Machine”
“Triumph: The Untold Story of Perry Wallace”

“Under the Wire”
“United Skates”
“Up Down and Sideways”

“The Waldheim Waltz”
“We Could Be Heroes”
“Weed the People”
“What Haunts Us”
“What Lies Upstream”
“Whitney”
“A Woman Captured”
“Wonderful Losers: A Different World”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

“Yellowing”

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www.thewrap.com | 10/27/18

Eighty-seven films have qualified in the 2018 Oscars race for Best Foreign Language Film, the Academy announced on Monday.

The number is five less than last year’s record of 92 entries, but significantly larger than the 60-odd qualifying films that were the norm only a few years ago. The 2018 race is also expected to be one of the most competitive in years, with a number of esteemed international directors and award-winning films competing for only nine spots on the shortlist and five nominations.

Los Angeles-based volunteers from all branches of the Academy will now watch all the eligible films at AMPAS screenings at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills and the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. This year, the Academy has made it easier to qualify to vote, dropping the number of films each voter must see from 17 or 18 down to 12 and eliminating the color-coded groups that made each voter choose from a specific group of films to which he or she had been assigned.

Also Read: Academy Makes More Changes to Open Up Oscars Foreign Language Voting (Exclusive)

The Mexican entry, Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” is the clear frontrunner, since it is also considered a strong contender for a Best Picture nomination. (In Oscars history, six films have been nominated in both categories, the last one being “Amour” in 2011.)

But the Polish entry, “Cold War,” is the new film from Pawel Pawlikowski, whose last film, “Ida,” won the foreign-language Oscar; it too is considered a likely nominee. So is the Lebanese entry, Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum,” a powerful drama about a young boy in the slums of Beirut who sues his parents for bringing him into the world.

Two other directors are recent winners in the category, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck with the German entry “Never Look Away” (his “The Lives of Others” won in 2007) and Laszlo Nemes for Hungary’s entry, “Sunset” (his last film, “Son of Saul,” won in 2016).

Also in the race: recent nominees Rithy Panh (“Graves Without a Name,” Cambodia) and Ciro Guerra (“Birds of Passage,” a Colombian film co-directed with his ex-wife, Cristina Gallego).

Also Read: Oscars Foreign Language Race 2018: Complete List of Submissions (So Far)

Other strong Oscars contenders include Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning, which is vying to become the first South Korean film ever to be nominated; Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters,” which won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “The Wild Pear Tree,” the Turkish entry; Lukas Dhont’s “Girl,” which won the acting award in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes; and Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” which took the best-actor award in Cannes’ main competition.

Entries from Ukraine, Egypt, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, the U.K., Spain, Paraguay and several other countries are also contending for the prize.

Malawi and Niger have submitted films for the first time.

Official Academy screenings will begin on Oct. 15 and run through Dec. 10. At that point, the six films that have received the highest average scores from the voters will advance to a nine-film shortlist, along with three additional films chosen by an executive committee.

Also Read: Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann to Replace Mark Johnson as Oscars Foreign-Language Heads (Exclusive)

TheWrap has compiled a complete list of the qualifying films, with descriptions and links to trailers when available.

The list of qualifying films:

Afghanistan, “Rona Azim’s Mother,” Jamshid Mahmoudi, director;

Algeria, “Until the End of Time,” Yasmine Chouikh, director;

Argentina, “El Ángel,” Luis Ortega, director;

Armenia, “Spitak,” Alexander Kott, director;

Australia, “Jirga,” Benjamin Gilmour, director;

Austria, “The Waldheim Waltz,” Ruth Beckermann, director;

Bangladesh, “No Bed of Roses,” Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, director;

Belarus, “Crystal Swan,” Darya Zhuk, director;

Belgium, “Girl,” Lukas Dhont, director;

Bolivia, “The Goalkeeper,” Rodrigo “Gory” Patiño, director;

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Never Leave Me,” Aida Begi?, director;

Brazil, “The Great Mystical Circus,” Carlos Diegues, director;

Bulgaria, “Omnipresent,” Ilian Djevelekov, director;

Cambodia, “Graves without a Name,” Rithy Panh, director;

Canada, “Family Ties,” Sophie Dupuis, director;

Chile, “…And Suddenly the Dawn,” Silvio Caiozzi, director;

China, “Hidden Man,” Jiang Wen, director;

Colombia, “Birds of Passage,” Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra, directors;

Costa Rica, “Medea,” Alexandra Latishev, director;

Croatia, “The Eighth Commissioner,” Ivan Salaj, director;

Czech Republic, “Winter Flies,” Olmo Omerzu, director;

Denmark, “The Guilty,” Gustav Möller, director;

Dominican Republic, “Cocote,” Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias, director;

Ecuador, “A Son of Man,” Jamaicanoproblem, director;

Egypt, “Yomeddine,” A.B. Shawky, director;

Estonia, “Take It or Leave It,” Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo, director;

Finland, “Euthanizer,” Teemu Nikki, director;

France, “Memoir of War,” Emmanuel Finkiel, director;

Georgia, “Namme,” Zaza Khalvashi, director;

Germany, “Never Look Away,” Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director;

Greece, “Polyxeni,” Dora Masklavanou, director;

Hong Kong, “Operation Red Sea,” Dante Lam, director;

Hungary, “Sunset,” László Nemes, director;

Iceland, “Woman at War,” Benedikt Erlingsson, director;

India, “Village Rockstars,” Rima Das, director;

Indonesia, “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts,” Mouly Surya, director;

Iran, “No Date, No Signature,” Vahid Jalilvand, director;

Iraq, “The Journey,” Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji, director;

Israel, “The Cakemaker,” Ofir Raul Graizer, director;

Italy, “Dogman,” Matteo Garrone, director;

Japan, “Shoplifters,” Hirokazu Kore-eda, director;

Kazakhstan, “Ayka,” Sergey Dvortsevoy, director;

Kenya, “Supa Modo,” Likarion Wainaina, director;

Kosovo, “The Marriage,” Blerta Zeqiri, director;

Latvia, “To Be Continued,” Ivars Seleckis, director;

Lebanon, “Capernaum,” Nadine Labaki, director;

Lithuania, “Wonderful Losers: A Different World,” Arunas Matelis, director;

Luxembourg, “Gutland,” Govinda Van Maele, director;

Macedonia, “Secret Ingredient,” Gjorce Stavreski, director;

Malawi, “The Road to Sunrise,” Shemu Joyah, director;

Mexico, “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón, director;

Montenegro, “Iskra,” Gojko Berkuljan, director;

Morocco, “Burnout,” Nour-Eddine Lakhmari, director;

Nepal, “Panchayat,” Shivam Adhikari, director;

Netherlands, “The Resistance Banker,” Joram Lürsen, director;

New Zealand, “Yellow Is Forbidden,” Pietra Brettkelly, director;

Niger, “The Wedding Ring,” Rahmatou Keïta, director;

Norway, “What Will People Say,” Iram Haq, director;

Pakistan, “Cake,” Asim Abbasi, director;

Palestine, “Ghost Hunting,” Raed Andoni, director;

Panama, “Ruben Blades Is Not My Name,” Abner Benaim, director;

Paraguay, “The Heiresses,” Marcelo Martinessi, director;

Peru, “Eternity,” Oscar Catacora, director;

Philippines, “Signal Rock,” Chito S. Roño, director;

Poland, “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski, director;

Portugal, “Pilgrimage,” João Botelho, director;

Romania, “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians,” Radu Jude, director;

Russia, “Sobibor,” Konstantin Khabensky, director;

Serbia, “Offenders,” Dejan Zecevic, director;

Singapore, “Buffalo Boys,” Mike Wiluan, director;

Slovakia, “The Interpreter,” Martin Šulík, director;

Slovenia, “Ivan,” Janez Burger, director;

South Africa, “Sew the Winter to My Skin,” Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, director;

South Korea, “Burning,” Lee Chang-dong, director;

Spain, “Champions,” Javier Fesser, director;

Sweden, “Border,” Ali Abbasi, director;

Switzerland, “Eldorado,” Markus Imhoof, director;

Taiwan, “The Great Buddha+,” Hsin-Yao Huang, director;

Thailand, “Malila The Farewell Flower,” Anucha Boonyawatana, director;

Tunisia, “Beauty and the Dogs,” Kaouther Ben Hania, director;

Turkey, “The Wild Pear Tree,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director;

Ukraine, “Donbass,” Sergei Loznitsa, director;

United Kingdom, “I Am Not a Witch,” Rungano Nyoni, director;

Uruguay, “Twelve-Year Night,” Álvaro Brechner, director;

Venezuela, “The Family,” Gustavo Rondón Córdova, director;

Vietnam, “The Tailor,” Buu Loc Tran, Kay Nguyen, directors;

Yemen, “10 Days before the Wedding,” Amr Gamal, director.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Sunset' Film Review: 'Son of Saul' Director Keeps His Characters, and Audience, Off Balance

'Capernaum' Director Left Out 'Shocking' Details About Kids on the Streets That Audiences Couldn't Handle

'Cold War' Film Review: Romance in Postwar Europe Is Ravishing and Haunted

www.thewrap.com | 10/8/18
The ferry was carrying hundreds of people from the German city of Kiel to a port town in Lithuania. Vilnius had sent three military vessels and a helicopter following an incident in the engine room.
www.dw.com | 10/2/18
LaMelo Ball was anything but mellow during his JBA international matchup on Monday -- SLAPPING his opponent and starting a BRAWL before getting ejected!! The youngest Ball's Team USA squad was facing Alytaus Dzukija in Lithuania (welcome back)…

www.tmz.com | 10/1/18
The pontiff marked the annual remembrance for Lithuania’s Jewish community that was nearly wiped out during World War II. He also paid his respects to Lithuanians deported to Siberian gulags.
www.nytimes.com | 9/23/18
The Latest on Pope Francis' trip to the three Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (all times local): 6:15 p.m. Pope Francis has warned Lithuanians not to forget the suffering of past generations and stay alert to future threats as he visited a museum dedicated to the atrocities committed during a half-century of Soviet and Nazi occupation.
www.foxnews.com | 9/23/18
Pope Francis warned Sunday against any rebirth of the "pernicious" anti-Semitic attitudes that fueled the Holocaust as he marked the annual remembrance for Lithuania's centuries-old Jewish community that was nearly wiped out during World War II.
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The Latest on Pope Francis' trip to the three Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (all times local): 11:15 a.m.
www.foxnews.com | 9/23/18
The removal of the hammer and sickle T-shirts sold online has ignited a war of words between Russia and the former Soviet republic.
www.nytimes.com | 9/19/18
The US retail giant had received complaints about the clothing from Lithuania.
www.bbc.co.uk | 9/18/18
Jonas Noreika has been honored as a martyr since his execution by the Soviet secret police in 1947. But he now stands accused by his own granddaughter of helping the Nazis kill Jews.
www.nytimes.com | 9/11/18
Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
www.nytimes.com | 9/11/18

The Oscars race for Best Foreign Language Film has kicked off with one past winner, another past nominee, a couple of esteemed international auteurs, a Palme d’Or winner and movies about drug runners, a transgender teen and, um, hot and sweaty troll sex.

Those are all in the first dozen-plus films submitted to the Academy by international film boards that have qualified to enter movies in the Oscars race. The first batch of submitted films range from this year’s Palme d’Or winner, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters,” to Lukas Dhont’s understated transgender character study “Girl” to Ali Abbasi’s “Border,” which energized Cannes audiences with its twisted tale of a woman who realizes she’s actually a troll.

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the director of the German entry, “Never Look Away,” directed the Oscar-winning “The Lives of Others” more than a decade ago, while Colombian director Ciro Guerra was responsible for the nominee “Embrace of the Serpent” in 2015.

Also Read: 'Shoplifters' Cannes Review: Is the Seventh Time a Charm for Hirokazu Kore-eda?

Approved organizations or committees from each country must submit their film to the Academy by October 1. Volunteers from all branches of the Academy will then view all the qualifying films and vote for their favorites, with the top six choices moving to a shortlist along with three additional choices made by the Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee. Phase 2 committees will then determine the five nominees.

Last year, a record 92 countries submitted films to the Oscars.

Recently, longtime Oscars foreign-language chair Mark Johnson, one of the architects of the current process, opted not to return to the position he had held for 17 of the last 18 years. Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann are the new co-chairs.

Also Read: Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann to Replace Mark Johnson as Oscars Foreign-Language Heads (Exclusive)

Here are the films that have been submitted so far, with links to trailers when available. An asterisk indicates that TheWrap has seen the film. We will continue to update this list as more films are announced.

Note: The foreign-language committee must still determine whether these films are eligible. The official announcement of qualifying films will take place in early October and may differ from this list.

BELARUS
“Crystal Swan” *
Director: Darya Zhuk

The first Belarusian Oscars entry in 22 years, “Crystal Swan” tells the story of a club kid and aspiring DJ in the mid-1990s who is desperate to escape the squalor of her newly-independent homeland for the promise of America. TheWrap’s Matt Donnelly called the film “tough but irresistible,” with a breakout performance from star Alina Nasibullina that hearkens back to the enterprising, unapologetic heroines of ’80s films like “Desperately Seeking Susan” and “Working Girl.”
Subtitled trailer

BELGIUM
“Girl” *
Director: Lukas Dhont

First-time feature director Dhont’s drama about a transgender teen was one of the hits of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning the Camera d’Or as the festival’s best first film and the Queer Palm as its best LGBT entry. Featuring a remarkable performance by Victor Polster, the film tells the story of an aspiring ballet student undergoing hormone therapy in preparation for gender confirmation surgery; in Cannes, TheWrap called it “a wrenching drama that you think is about finding acceptance until it threatens to become about the impossibility of that very thing.”
Subtitled trailer

Also Read: 'Girl' Film Review: Transgender Teen Drama Is a True Cannes Discovery

COLOMBIA
“Birds of Passage” *
Directors: Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra

Ciro Guerra directed the first Colombian film ever nominated for an Oscar, 2015’s “Embrace of the Serpent.” His new film, co-directed with his ex-wife Cristina Gallego, is a far cry from that mysterious black-and-white adventure; it starts out as an examination of the old customs of the Wayuu people of northern Colombia in the 1970s, but turns into a blood-soaked chronicle of the ways in which the drug trade transformed the country.
Subtitled trailer

ESTONIA
“Take It or Leave It”
Director: Liina Triskina-Vanhatalo

A 30-year-old construction worker is faced with a life-changing decision when he learns that an ex-girlfriend is about to give birth to his child, which she doesn’t want to keep. Triskina-Vanhatalo’s drama is the 16th Oscar entry from Estonia since 1992, with only one of them, 2014’s “Tangerines,” landing a nomination.
Subtitled teaser trailer

Never Look Away / TIFF

GERMANY
“Never Look Away”
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has had a rocky last few years. He directed the brilliant “The Lives of Others,” which scored an upset victory over “Pan’s Labyrinth” at the Oscars in 2007, and then made his English language debut with the Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie debacle “The Tourist” in 2010. “Never Look Away” is his first film since then, and it returns to “Lives of Others” territory as it chronicles the life of an artist over three decades of post-World War II Germany.
German trailer (no subtitles)

Also Read: Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's 'Never Look Away' Ahead of Venice

JAPAN
“Shoplifters” *
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Although Japan has 12 Oscar nominations, only two of those have come in the last 37 years, with the country often struggling to make the right submission choices. But Hirokazu Kore-eda is the most acclaimed filmmaker to represent the country in the Oscars race in years, and “Shoplifters” won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Kore-eda follows a tightly knit family living in poverty and making ends meet through petty crime. “Not only does ‘Shoplifters’ skillfully entwine several disparate threads he’s explored over his prolific career,” wrote TheWrap’s Ben Croll, “it does so with the understated confidence and patient elegance of an artist who has fully matured.”
Subtitled trailer

Lithuania
“Wonderful Losers: A Different World”
Director: Arunas Matelis

One of the first two documentaries submitted in this year’s Oscar race, Matelis’ film chronicles the Giro d’Italia (or Tour of Italy) bicycle race from the vantage point of the cyclists at the back of the pack, and the medical teams who attend to the fallen racers.
Subtitled trailer

PALESTINE
“Ghost Hunting”
Director: Raed Andoni

The third documentary to be submitted to the Oscars this year finds a group of former Palestinian prisoners re-enacting their brutal interrogations at the hands of Israeli security forces. The film by Raed Andoni, himself a former prisoner, won the top documentary award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
Subtitled trailer

I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians / TIFF

ROMANIA
“I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians”
Director: Radu Jude

Romania is one of the countries that has inexplicably never landed an Oscar nomination despite a vibrant filmmaking scene (South Korea is another), and Radu Jude is trying for the second time to end that streak of futility. Three years after representing his country with the exceptional “Aferim!,” Jude returns with a blackly comic film about a modern theater director trying to stage a piece about the 1941 massacre in which Romania allied with the Nazis to kill tens of thousands of Jews in Odessa. The film recently won the top prize at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
Subtitled trailer

Also Read: 'I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians' Takes Top Honor at Karlovy Vary

SLOVAKIA
“The Interpreter”
Director: Martin Sulik

Slovakia has submitted 22 films to the Oscars since 1993 – and seven of those have been directed by Martin Sulik, five more than any other Slovakian director. A road movie about two elderly men, one the son of a Holocaust victim and one the son of a Nazi killer, stars “Toni Erdmann” star Peter Simonschek and legendary Czech director Jiri Menzel.
Subtitled trailer

SWEDEN
“Border” *
Director: Ali Abbasi

In Cannes, where it won the top award in the Un Certain Regard section, Abbasi’s movie became known as the “troll sex” film, because it features, yes, a couple of trolls having sex. But they can also pass for humans, making “Border” an allegory for how we treat outsiders. “It’s creepy and disturbing and freaking, with enough room to find whatever subtext you’re looking for,” wrote theWrap in Cannes.
Subtitled clip

SWITZERLAND
“Eldorado”
Director: Markus Imhoof

In 1981, Markus Imhoof made “The Boat Is Full,” a drama about refugees in World War II that was nominated for the foreign-language Oscar; in 2013, he represented Switzerland in the Oscar race with “More Than Honey,” a documentary about honeybee colonies. “Eldorado” has things in common with both of those films: It’s also a documentary, but one that looks for common ground between today’s European refugees and the child that the director’s family took in during WWII.
Trailer (no subtitles)

The Wild Pear Tree / TIFF

TURKEY
“The Wild Pear Tree” *
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

This is the fifth time that Turkey has been represented by a film from the acclaimed auteur Ceylan, who was also responsible for the Turkish submissions “Distant,” “Three Monkeys,” “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” and “Winter Sleep.” But none of those have ever been nominated for Oscars and only “Three Monkeys” made the shortlist. “The Wild Pear Tree” focuses on an aspiring writer and recent college graduate who seems destined for failure; as usual with films from Ceylan, it is slowly paced and built around lengthy conversations – “a narrative of disillusionment,” in the words of TheWrap’s Ben Croll.
International trailer (no dialogue)

UKRAINE
“Donbass” *
Director: Sergei Loznitsa

You have to give Ukraine credit for submitting a film that casts the country in the harshest light imaginable. Loznitsa is a virtuoso filmmaker of both narrative films and documentaries, and the episodic “Donbass” is part black comedy, part cry of rage over the violence and corruption that runs rampant in his country. In Cannes, Ben Croll called it “the uncompromised vision of a high-level international auteur.”
Subtitled clip

Also Read: 'Donbass' Review: Jarring War Film Reminds Us That No One Is Safe

UNITED KINGDOM
“I Am Not a Witch” *
Director: Rungano Nyoni

One of the oldest films in the competition, the British entry screened in the Directors fortnight of Cannes in 2017, and won a BAFTA Award in February. The Zambian-born writer-director Rungano Nyoni visited actual camps for “witches” before making this magical-realist take on a young girl who is accused of having supernatural powers.
Subtitled trailer

VENEZUELA
“The Family”
Director: Gustavo Rondon Cordova

A selection in the Critics Week section of Cannes in 2017, Rondon Cordova’s drama deals with a father and son who are forced to go into hiding in Caracas after the 12-year-old boy runs afoul of a local gang.
Subtitled trailer

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www.thewrap.com | 8/30/18
Contract disputes at a tiny Baltic club have shined a light on the wilder side of soccer’s player-trading market.
www.nytimes.com | 8/30/18
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive Thursday in Lithuania for a four-day visit during which he will also meet his Latvian and Estonian counterparts, local officials and the Jewish community.
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The campaign for Vilnius features a woman lying on a bed sheet printed with a map of Europe. The text reads: 'Vilnius, the G-spot of Europe. Nobody knows where it is, but when you find it, it's amazing.'
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Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, whether in a bar or a car or lands afar, look like they’re enjoying themselves in the buddy action romp “The Spy Who Dumped Me.”

This kind of co-star coziness, however, can be a 50/50 proposition for an audience. Are the actors flaunting their frolic at the expense of entertainment cohesion? Is it a home movie writ large? Or does the onscreen fun invite along summer moviegoers eager to be whisked away?

The answer with director and co-writer Susanna Fogel’s girls-on-the-run misadventure is a decided… it depends. As in, from scene to scene, “The Spy Who Dumped Me” either lands the appropriately silly tone of freewheeling camaraderie or feels like a lot of money and time haphazardly spent.

Watch Video: Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon Send Up James Bond in 'Spy Who Dumped Me' Trailer

The world as it exists definitely needs more movies with engaging women like Kunis and McKinnon showing the boys a thing or two about pals-in-peril laughs and thrills. The Melissa McCarthy vehicle “Spy” was a masterful example of how brilliantly funny this timeworn genre can get when women are front and center — which unfortunately leaves “Spy Who Dumped Me” in the energetic but spotty B-team camp. (And the less said about “Snatched,” the better.)

The idea isn’t a bad one: Combine the low-key, talky, everyday-problems comic vibe of Fogel’s 2014 indie charmer “Life Partners” — about female besties reaching a saturation point when romantic fulfillment is on the line — with the high-stakes derring-do of an action comedy. And Fogel leans into that dichotomy hard, and right away.

Underachieving smart gal Audrey (Kunis) celebrates a dreary 30th birthday at a Los Angeles bar with her closest chum Morgan (McKinnon), an outgoing kook; meanwhile, Audrey’s boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) — who just broke up with her via text — is violently evading pursuers in an open-air market in Vilnius, Lithuania. As cross-cutting energies go (vigorously choreographed, explosive mayhem alongside downbeat, snarky, claustrophobic girltime), it’s an admittedly offbeat tack, and one that takes some getting used to.

Watch Video: 'SNL': Kate McKinnon and Mikey Day Are the Creepiest Mother and Son Ever

After an alcohol-fueled night of burning some of Drew’s belongings, Audrey finds him at her doorstep (really, the side window), with killers on his trail and a pair of bickering international intelligence operatives named Sebastian (Sam Heughan, “Outlander”) and Duffer (Hasan Minhaj) desperate to reach him. His cover blown, Drew entrusts Audrey with a “package” to be delivered to a contact in Vienna. The idea of following through on potentially dangerous international intrigue triggers the overthinking Audrey’s self-doubt, which only spurs impulsive, faithful Morgan to convince her that life was made for these you-might-die-but-hey-might-you-live moments.

And it’s in that push-and-pull between Kunis’s neurotic practicality and McKinnon’s devilish confidence where “The Spy Who Dumped Me” is at its most enjoyable, hopping from Vienna to Prague to Paris to Berlin. Especially when the Emmy-winning “Saturday Night Live” goddess has freer reign, whether indulging an I-want-to-spy-too feminist crush — upon discovering a woman (Gillian Anderson in haughty British mode) is in charge of male agents — or recklessly inserting herself into a Cirque du Soleil act.

It’s part of McKinnon’s squirrelly-eyed charm, after all, that as nutty as the words usually are coming out of that vixenish contralto purr, she’s magnetically convincing as the friend with whom you’d gladly run from gunfire, mug Aussie girl-backpackers for their passports, and fend off a compact, icy Eastern European gymnast-assassin (a chilling Ivanna Sakhno) who doesn’t respond to sisterhood empathy. Not every eccentric tweak of hers lands, but it’s a wonderful feeling knowing McKinnon sees potential for humor every time the camera’s on her, even for a reaction shot shoved into an action sequence.

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Kunis, in the straight-woman role, makes do with the less flashy role, and she’s also saddled with resolving the ho-hum relationship storyline, which is complicated by Audrey’s feelings for the sensitive Sebastian, who becomes an ally to the women. (Heughan’s needs are simple: Look capable and pretty.)

The stars are the only twosome that matters, though, and in a refreshing change of pace, there’s no manufactured rift for Audrey and Morgan to overcome. Fogel would rather celebrate the humor in a deep friendship, as in a funny, increasingly embarrassing back-and-forth under captured duress that’s meant to prove who knows the other better.

The fights, chases and explosions are serviceably handled, too, with just enough bone-crunching and bloodletting to make Kunis’s and McKinnon’s transformation from screaming bystanders to save-the-planet badasses feel buddy-movie believable. But nothing comedy-wise beats a hilariously misguided attempt to hijack an aged couple’s fancy car, only to discover a stick shift, which neither character knows how to operate. As the flummoxed pair talk over each other, the car putters to a stop, the owners walking alongside it the whole time.

It’s a bit worthy of Lucy and Ethel. And while, overall, “The Spy Who Dumped Me” is no classic in that sense, one sees appealing glimmers of a larger female-buddy-comedy world ready to be explored.

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www.thewrap.com | 7/27/18

Radu Jude’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” won the Grand Prix Crystal Globe, the top jury prize at the 2018 Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

The international competition winner tells of an artist who reenacts a real-life ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Romanian army in 1941, this time as an artistic installation.

The movie is a coproduction of six countries, led by Romania. In 2015, Jude won Berlin’s Silver Bear for best director for his film “Aferim!”

Also Read: Belarus to Enter Oscar Race After 22 Years With Indie Gem 'Crystal Swan'

The festival at Karlovy Vary, nestled in a spa town outside Prague, Czech Republic, also awarded a special jury prize to Ana Katz’s “Sueño Florianópolis,” and awarded a best director prize to Olmo Omerzu for “Winter Flies.” Mercedes Morán (“Sueño Florianópolis”) and Moshe Folkenflik (“Redemption”) won best actress and best actor, respectively.

Vitaly Mansky’s “Putin’s Witnesses,” which featured a trove of unaired, potentially damning footage from the early days of the Russian president’s rule, took best documentary. The jury also gave special mention to Ivan I. Tverdovskiy’s “Jumpman,” about a peculiar orphan who can’t feel physical pain until his estranged mother resurfaces.

Actor and director Tim Robbins joined a long line of American stars like Robert De Niro and Casey Affleck in receiving a special prize for his contributions to world cinema, TheWrap previously reported.

“Good Time” star Robert Pattinson was also handed this year’ President’s Award.

Read the complete list of winners:

GRAND PRIX – CRYSTAL GLOBE (25 000 USD)
The financial award is shared equally by the director and producer of the award-winning film.

“I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” 
Directed by: Radu Jude
Romania, Czech Republic, France, Bulgaria, Germany, 2018

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (15 000 USD)
The financial award is shared equally by the director and producer of the award-winning film.

“Sueño Florianópolis”
Directed by: Ana Katz
Argentina, Brasil, France, 2018

BEST DIRECTOR AWARD

Olmo Omerzu for the film “Winter Flies”
Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia, 2018

Also Read: 'Cielo' Film Review: A Poet's Guide to the Galaxy Via Time-Lapse Views of the Chilean Sky

BEST ACTRESS AWARD

Mercedes Morán for her role in the film “Sueño Florianópolis”
Directed by: Ana Katz
Argentina, Brasil, France, 2018

BEST ACTOR AWARD

Moshe Folkenflik for his role in the film “Redemption”
Directed by: Joseph Madmony, Boaz Yehonatan Yacov
Israel, 2018

SPECIAL JURY MENTION

“Jumpman”
Directed by: Ivan I. Tverdovskiy
Russia, Lithuania, Ireland, France, 2018

SPECIAL JURY MENTION

“History of Love”
Directed by: Sonja Prosenc
Slovenia, Italy, Norway, 2018

EAST OF THE WEST – COMPETITION

EAST OF THE WEST GRAND PRIX (15 000 USD)

“Suleiman Mountain”
Directed by: Elizaveta Stishova
Kyrgyzstan, Russia, 2017

EAST OF THE WEST SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (10 000 USD)

“Blossom Valley”

Directed by: László Csuja
Hungary, 2018

DOCUMENTARY FILMS – COMPETITION

DOCUMENTARY FILMS JURY
Raúl Camargo, Chile
M. Siam, Egypt
Diana Tabakov, Czech Republic

GRAND PRIX FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM (5 000 USD)
The financial award goes to the director of the award-winning film.

“Putin’s Witnesses”
Directed by: Vitaly Mansky
Latvia, Switzerland, Czech Republic, 2018

DOCUMENTARY SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

“Walden”
Directed by: Daniel Zimmermann
Switzerland, Austria, 2018

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www.thewrap.com | 7/7/18
Paris-based sales agents Alpha Violet has announced that Polish director Agnieszka Smoczy?ska’s second feature “Fugue,” playing at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, has sold to Canada, China, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. The sales company has two other films at the festival: Natalia Garagiola’s Venice Audience Award winner “Hunting Season” and […]
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[SAFA] Banyana Banyana striker Leandra Smeda says she is over the moon following her move to Gintra Universitetas in Lithuania.
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American soldiers and allies, on a military exercise in Poland and Lithuania, are ramping up to thwart Russian cyberattacks and information warfare.
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A couple from Kent are facing trial in Lithuania over the trafficking and exploiting workers.
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Captain Lewandowski is ready for the maiden run in the World Cup.
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The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Romania and Lithuania violated the Continent’s primary human-rights treaty by secretly holding al Qaeda suspects and failing to investigate their treatment by CIA interrogators.
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The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Romania and Lithuania violated the Continent’s primary human-rights treaty by secretly holding al Qaeda suspects and failing to investigate their treatment by CIA interrogators.
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The findings offered confirmation from the justice system of the countries’ role in the C.I.A.’s torture program after the Sept. 11 attacks.
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European judges say Lithuania and Romania assisted CIA ill-treatment of al-Qaeda suspects.
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The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Romania and Lithuania allowed the detention and abuse of a Saudi and a Palestinian at secret U.S. prisons.
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LaMelo Ball just changed his image in a big way -- losing his signature shaggy hairstyle ... and replacing it with some killer waves!  There had been rumors LaMelo axed his Odell Beckham-style hairdo after he came back from Lithuania ... but…

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A Lithuanian prosecutor is demanding that the Soviet Union's last defense minister is imprisoned for life for his role in a violent crackdown on the Baltic country's independence move 27 years ago that left 14 people dead and hundreds injured.
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Lithuania has welcomed a decision by German sports gear company Adidas to remove a red tank top with the letters USSR and emblems of the Soviet Union from its online store in the country.
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EXCLUSIVE. Brigita Jagelaviciute, from Lithuania, lives a millionaire lifestyle, but doesn’t earn six figures – she globe-trots to exotic places thanks to being an Emirates stewardess.
LaVar, Lonzo, LaMelo and LiAngelo are officially back in L.A. from Lithuania -- but it ain't exactly the triumphant return they envisioned when they left in the first place.  As we previously reported, LaVar just announced 'Gelo & 'Melo…

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The great Lithuania experiment is over ... because LaVar Ball is pulling his 2 sons off BC Vytautas after just 3 months.  LaVar told Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas he's bringing both LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball back to Los…

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Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump opened up the first new “SNL” episode in three weeks with a speed-run through recent Trump-news, with Baldwin as POTUS reading a prepared statement specifically to prove that yes, the president can read.

He was also finally straight with the American people, describing his presidency as “a four-year cash grab.”

Baldwin’s Trump met with leaders of the Baltic states for a press conference, but even as the event started, Trump was eager to leave. “Let’s make this quick because I’ve got more trade wars to escalate,” he said. “That’s why I added more tariffs on things like fireworks and finger traps.”

Also Read: 'SNL': John Goodman's Rex Tillerson Lashes Out Over Being Fired, Yells 'Trump Is a Moron'

Trump then introduced his counterparts from the Baltic States, listing them as “Estonia, Lithuania, and I wanna say Stankonia.” Trump further endeared himself to the other world leaders, saying, “Baltic Avenue was always my favorite, after Oriental Avenue, which you can’t say anymore. You have to call it China Street. So sad.”

“Before I turn things over to these freak shows here I’m going to read a prepared statement to prove that I can read. I hate this,” Trump continued, before quickly reading off the prepared statement — which started with, “Do not congratulate Putin.” “Oh wait,” Baldwin’s Trump said. “That’s a note for me.”

As soon as he was finished reading the statement, Baldwin’s Trump immediately congratulated Putin, just like the real Trump did, despite a real-life note reminding him not to.

Also Read: 'SNL': Eric Trump Gets Scared by a Pop-Up Book on Weekend Update (Video)

“First up a big congratulations to Vladimir Putin,” he said. “Nobody’s ever been tougher on Russia than I am, including Hitler.”

Trump then handed the reins of the event to the Baltic leaders while he zoned out, completely bored.

“Oh my god I’m already so bored,” Baldwin narrated for Trump’s thoughts. “I wish I was watching Roseanne, how great is that show. Roseanne loves me, she’s like a good Rosie O’Donnell.”

Also Read: 'SNL': Robert Mueller Can't Commit to Trump Collusion in 'Bachelor' Finale (Video)

Trump then took questions from journalists. He ducked answering about Stormy Daniels, admitted to hating Jeff Bezos because the Amazon CEO is richer and admits he’s bald, and talked about a caravan of immigrants in Mexico by describing the armored cars from the movie “Max Max: Fury Road.” He even called he immigrants “Mad Maxicans.”

When asked about whether he was worried his policies are ruining America, Baldwin’s Trump finally leveled with the nation.

“I am not worried at all, because here is the thing that no one else is saying and I’m the only one who’s willing to actually say this, ‘I don’t care about America,'” Trump explained. “Okay? This whole presidency is a four-year cash grab and admitting that will probably get me four more years, but I do not care about any of you. Okay? Basically, does that answer all of your questions?”

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www.thewrap.com | 4/8/18
LiAngelo Ball will be suiting up for an NBA team next season, and it ain't just 'cause of his talent -- so says Shareef O'Neal. We spoke to Shareef -- a top NCAA prospect -- after LiAngelo dropped 72 POINTS in an exhibition game out in Lithuania

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Torture Is a Hallmark of US Invasions and Interventions  The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan's representative speaks out with Pravda.Ru about the International Criminal Court's decision to investigate crimes committed by all sides in the Central Asian country, since May 1, 2003. "There's no indication that US crimes have stopped occurring in Afghanistan," Friba says. Edu Montesanti: The International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said that there is "reasonable basis to believe" that U.S. forces had committed war crimes during the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan". According to the report handed down to the ICC by prosecutor Bensouda, at least 61 detainees were subjected to torture, cruel treatment and "outrages upon personal dignity," by US service personnel. The majority of incidents were believed to have taken place between 2003 and 2004, and allegedly continued until the end of 2014. Between Dec. 2002 and Mar. 2008, at least 27 detainees were also believed to have been subjected to similar treatment by CIA members, in Afghanistan as well as sites in Poland, Romania, and Lithuania. What are your thoughts on these facts?  Friba / RAWA's spokeswoman: Thoughout its history, wherever the US has invaded or intervened, it has used inhumane torture methods as a weapon to intimidate people and suppress uprisings.

Leading Moscow-based anti-virus software provider Kaspersky Lab is planning to open a data center in Switzerland to address Western government concerns that Russia exploits its anti-virus software to spy on customers, according to a report from Reuters on Wednesday. From the report: "Kaspersky is setting up the center in response to actions in the United States, Britain and Lithuania last year to stop using the company's products… The action is the latest effort by Kaspersky, a global leader in anti-virus software, to parry accusations by the U.S. government and others that the company spies on customers at the behest of Russian intelligence. The U.S. last year ordered civilian government agencies to remove the Kaspersky software from their networks."

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Less than one week after opening its third studio in the UK, Avakin Life developer Lockwood Publishing has opened a studio in Lithuania, its first international studio. ...

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At least 5,000 people have rallied in Lithuania's capital to demand an early parliamentary election after lawmakers failed to impeach one of their own for his reported ties to Russia.
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