The CityTelling Festival started in October 2019 and it is one of the biggest events of the Kaunas 2022 program "Memory Office". The initiative unites storytellers: museologists, theatre and other artists, individual history enthusiasts, professional storytellers, local community activists, and others.

The CityTelling Festival aims to remind the multiethnic memory of Kaunas and its surroundings, to strengthen the dialogue between different communities, to encourage pride in the place we live in, and at the same time – to talk about topics relevant to the contemporary European.

Every time we invite the festival organizers and partners to tell unheard, forgotten stories of the city and the district, to try new ways of telling stories and to do it in unexpected, forgotten places.
And we invite the visitors of the festival to embark on a journey that will delight not only with discoveries but also with new experiences. Maybe you’ll discover what you didn’t expect, get an answer to a question you didn’t even know existed ... After all, stories don’t just help us to discover the place we live in. They help us to get to know ourselves, to listen to the other, to understand and empathize better.


During the quarantine, I realized that this feeling was familiar to me... The feeling that I could not go outside my room. During the war, when I was taken out of the ghetto and hidden in an apartment on Vytautas Avenue, I couldn't go anywhere. I could only observe life through the window ... Then in exile, in Tajikistan, when I was already big, we were again unable to move more than half a kilometer from our village. Yes, I remember this feeling well...
Julijana Zarchi, 2020

I’ve met Julijana at the end of the summer. She is one of the heroes of stories we collect. We made a warm connection with her. We met at our friends’ house. Juliana went out of home further away than a pharmacy or shop for the first time after months of quarantine. We talked about how this pandemic affected humanity and ourselves, emotionally.

The year 2020 was marked by world events. In the time of the global pandemic, people from different countries and cultures were brought together by common experience and common story. The lives of many of us were simply interrupted… We began to feel as if we were falling into ignorance, and uncertainty and anxiety about the future had become our life’s companions.

This year CityTelling Festival invites us to think about how has this experience affected us? How has it affected our self-esteem and habits, our relationships with each other, and our environment, city, public spaces? Reflecting on these unexpected experiences, we realize that, from a historical point of view, they are not unique or exceptional. Wars, deportations, occupations, and persecutions – these are many interrupted lives and destinies of our parents, grandparents, fellow Kaunasians. Perhaps by remembering them, we can understand with greater empathy the experiences of the generations that lived before us.

We invite you to go out into the city and experience its stories, sounds and images, to look behind the scenes of your city and towns, listen to their stories. Thereby to remember the names and fates of those who were born in Kaunas, but time erased the traces of their lives. Guided tours, exhibitions, theatrical narratives, intimate artistic meetings will allow you to talk with the city, its streets, and walls, resurrect stories that have been forgotten.

Curator of the festival Daiva Citvarienė,
coordinator Justina Petrulionytė-Sabonienė


Crows taught him to speak Swabian; magpies, English; and sparrows, Russian. She learnt French from horses and American English from the vessels of the Baltic Lloyds insurance company. And where did he, the city of Menapolis, learn to wear braces? Well, from telegraph poles. Lo and behold, Menapolis goes out for a walk across Europe and changes his appearance on every corner. Mimicking Berlin, he shaves his temples; imitating Paris, he wears a bowler hat. Here comes Menapolis back from a walk, bringing the whole flock of stars along with him. /.../ Inebriated by his own dreams, Menapolis watches as the lights float down the river.

Markas Zingeris, Around the Fountain, or the Little Paris, 1998

How colorful this city was! Unfortunately, such an image of a multiethnic Kaunas is rare in Lithuanian literature, as well as in our imagination. However, many stories are testifying to such Kaunas in the past. These stories are often overshadowed by the stereotypical image of the “most Lithuanian” Lithuanian city. Or we simply forgot those stories. We want to remind them.

Here you will find literary and other texts about the multiethnic Kaunas and the lives of Kaunasians in the city during the war and post-war years. Some stories were born to remind us of the names and destinies of the people who once lived in this city: Lea Goldberg, Emmanuel Lévinas, Henry Parland... Other stories were inspired by the memories we collected. The writers explored them and resurrect them to another life in literary texts.

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