Down the road from the Estonian Cinema House on Uus Street, there is a spot called African Kitchen. (Photo: A. Kozlov)
A film studying Africa-Estonia issues
Estonian annimation sample
Estonian and Russian sign in Tallinn. Russian-speakers are ca. 20% of Estonia’s population. (Photo: A. Kozlov)
The Russian Theater of Estonia. (Photo A. Kozlov)
Ukrainian film-maker Sergey Volkov is showing Phillip Rojen (left) and Phil’s brother Andrey, of Feathered Dreams fame, how important balancing his Steady Arm is. Later the crew was filming scenes for their documentary about the Baltic German physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck on the streets of Tallinn’s Old Town, assisted by Russian-Estonian Royal Giraffe Theatre. (Photo A. Kozlov)
As the Baltic Pitching Forumdeadline is nearing, I go through the notes, photos and business cards that I brought from last week’s trip to Estonia, my first visit to the Baltics. Will it be long till I next walk the cobblestones of Tallinn’s Old Town, each step done carefully while trying to preserve the soles of my once brand new Portuguese shoes.
It was Erika Laansalu of the Estonian Filmmakers Union who shared with me and my Ukrainian colleague Phillip Rojen a selection of film publications that prompted this post.
What I found most appealing in the overview of past documentary film projects produced by Estonians is the inquisitiveness of the nation that gave us Skype and Monocle’s editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé about the world and the place of slightly over a million of Estonians in it.
This is reflected in the three trends that I see in the Estonian dox:
1. Estonians abroad. Example: The Samurai of Chernobylby Ivar Heinmaa that observes the anatomy of two great disasters – Chernobyl 1986 vs. Fukushima 2011, — life of the inhabitants of the danger zone and draws the viewers attention to the 5000 men that Soviet Estonia sent to Chornobyl in 1986. Between 1986-1993, 28 of them committed suicide.
2. Life of indigenous peoples, especially in the Russian Federation. When I mentioned this trend to an Global Estonian transmedia friend, Kris Haamer, sitting inside Estonia’s oldest cinema, Kino Sõprus (literally Cinema Friendship), he suggested that, in all my future conversations about Estonian documentary trends, I shouldn’t overlook the fact that the second President of Estonia was one of the people that fall into this category.
The Film The Winds of the Milky Way (Linnutee tuuled) by Lennart Meri (yes, the Lennart Meri Tallinn International Airport’s Meri), shot in co-operation with Finland and Hungary, was banned in the Soviet Union, but won a silver medal at the New York Film Festival. In Finnish schools, his films and texts were used as study materials.
In 1941, the Meri family was deported to Siberia. Whilst in exile, Lennart Meri grew interested in Uralic languages that he heard around him, the language family of which Estonian is a part. His interest in the ethnic and cultural kinship amongst the scattered Uralic family had been a lifelong theme within his work.
3. Foreigners in Estonia and the Russian minority, as a sub-category. Example of these is Jüri Sillart’s Volli, Sempre Volli, a film about a charismatic Italian entrepreneur in Estonia, the multimillionaire Ernesto Achille Preatoni, now an Estonian citizen.