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Break Free! The Art of Activism at Lukiskes Prison 2.0

On June 21st, inside the historic walls of the Lukiškės Prison 2.0 in Vilnius, Lithuania, Break Free! Festival of Activism, Music +Cinema put on an epic celebration of the global fight against corruption and elevating those making a difference! The event was a unique global gathering in solidarity with the fight against corruption and social injustice marking the official closing of the week-long International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC), which took place from the 18-21st of June in Vilnius.

A Symbolic Venue

Once a formidable maximum-security prison, Lukiškės 2.0 has evolved into a sanctuary for over 300 artists, musicians, and creators. This transformation provided an apt setting for the Break Free! Festival, where the echoes of past confinement resonate with the liberating spirit of artistic expression, providing an omen to the corrupt leaders these changemakers aim to bring to justice. Break Free! embodied the principle of using art as a catalyst for social change: through music, visual arts, film, and more, participants and attendees alike engaged in thought-provoking dialogues and collective festivities, advocating for a more just world.

Voices of change

The festival kicked off with the Lithuanian premiere of "An Accidental President," a documentary chronicling the journey of Belarusian leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Her presence alongside the film’s director Mike Lerner during the post-screening Q&A session, brought firsthand insights into the ongoing struggles and aspirations driving the Belarusian pro-democracy movement.

Following the documentary screening, the main stage of Lukiškės came alive with performances that resonated with purpose. Armed with only her guitar and moving vocals, Nigerian singer-songwriter and activist Cill Soul captivated audiences with her moving melodies and powerful message. Cill was followed by Malawian Faith Mussa, who whipped up a lively atmosphere with his unique blend of African-electro grooves and poignant social commentary.

The energy was then taken up a level with an electrifying set by The Sixsters, winners of the 2024 edition of the global anti-corruption youth-music initiative Fair Play. Hailing from Ukraine, now based in Germany, this all-girl punk rock band delivered a raw, unapologetic performance that underscored their commitment to using music as a tool supporting young people and kids, back home and beyond.

The evening was brought to its peak by a performance from Lithuania’s very own Antikvariniai Kašpirovskio dantys (AKD), whose eclectic and infectious energy and hilarious dance acts brought home the spirit of defiance and hope in their truly comedic, iconic style.

As attendees departed the festival grounds, it was clear that they would carry with them not only fantastic memories of these powerful anti-corruption performances and cinema, but a renewed commitment to breaking free from the chains of corruption and injustice! This transformative experience reminded us that, through art and activism, we can create a better world!

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