80 min

In development

The Poor Cry Too

Varguoliai irgi verkia

Directing: Viktorija MickuteIeva Balsiunaite


In 1992, Lithuania was still reeling from the recent collapse of the Soviet Union. People were weary and anxious, their faces reflecting the uncertainty of the times. On a usual dark Monday morning in November, crowds tried to cram into overcrowded trolleybuses, while others lined up at supermarkets with empty shelves. But a few hours later, the streets were strangely empty, and the usually bustling cashier women were nowhere to be found. What had happened?

The answer lay in the small TVs emanating from every corner, all tuned to the same sound - yelling and crying in Spanish. The hugely popular Mexican telenovela, "The Rich Also Cry," had captivated the hearts and minds of Lithuanians. "It worked as mass psychotherapy," said Lithuanian anthropologist Vaidas Jauniskis. The telenovelas offered an escape from the monotony of post-Soviet life and a glimpse into a world filled with emotions, colors, and passion. Viewers were enthralled by the foreign entertainment, which was a stark contrast to the Soviet government-approved movies they were accustomed to.

Lithuania was not alone in this phenomenon. Other post Soviet countries were experiencing the same. “The stories coming out of the region sounded too crazy to be true,” remembers the Washington Post journalist Michael Dobbs. A group of women even organized a funeral for one of the characters killed in the soup opera. Men sent letters to the Russian television with proposals to marry Veronica Castro who played Mariana in The Rich Also Cry. When she entered the Moscow theatre stage, she was mesmerized by the sea of people who came to see her. “When they saw me, they didn’t applaud, they simply cried,” Veronica remembers.

At some point Mexican telenovelas were being exported to 140 countries around the world. Whether this was unexpected or planned, it defined the 1990s - the years of self-exploration - in Eastern Europe, leaving a trace in who we’ve become and how we see the world.
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