Three topics liked by documentary film-makers and presidents of Estonia

by Andy Kozlov

As the Baltic Pitching Forum deadline 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.

Did you know that much of classic Tarkovsky film Stalker was filmed in Tallinn? Kyiv-Tartu-Tallinn. Circa 20 hours by bus. Apart from being my first time in Estonia, this trip was a chance for me to see the landscapes of Russia and Belarus for the first time in life.
Did you know that much of classic Tarkovsky film Stalker was filmed in Tallinn? Kyiv-Tartu-Tallinn. Circa 20 hours by bus. Apart from being my first time in Estonia, this trip was a chance for me to see the landscapes of Russia and Belarus for the first time in life.

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.

After the meeting with Ms Laansalu at the Estonian Cinema House, it didn't take me long to delve into their most recent documentaries catalog that she gave us. Before the meeting, I spotted a Chicago-themed lounge in the neighborhood and this is where I went to reflect on the meeting and future prospects of coproduction between Ukraine and Estonia.
After the meeting with Ms Laansalu at the Estonian Cinema House, it didn’t take me long to delve into their most recent documentaries catalog that she gave us. Before the meeting, I spotted a Chicago-themed lounge in the neighborhood and this is where I went to reflect on the meeting and future prospects of coproduction between Ukraine and Estonia.

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 Chernobyl by 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.

See related:

A rookie-s take on Russia-s creative industries

Youssou N’Dour, a Creative in Politics

For Chornobyl with Love: strumming Ukrainian pain in Japan and relieving that pain in Japan

Sri Lankans cover Zimbabwean engineer helping Mongolians in sustainable Ninja-Mining, while Estonians document Eastern Ukrainian kids digging for coal

Italian cinema eyes Ukraine

What’s in your bag, Wladimir Kaminer? Slash 8, a piece of ginger and other requisites of Russo-German creative scapes

Inspired by stats from Basic Lead. But still wondering what the future holds for African films in Russian-language markets

Propped by sustainable transportation India-sized Yakutia could become Russia’s next cretivity hub

The Russian Barber of Harare

Eddy Melnis, a Latvia-born R&B musician

The first Nigerian film production in Europe. It turns Ukrainian phones red and challenges (Half of A Yellow Sun) in authenticity

Nenets of the North

Afriwood to participate in 2012 Ukrainian Content Market

A short film about a Ukrainian student in Rome falling for a Rwandan girl as well as chasing an EU citizenship (in Italian)

Italy 2 Russia: Fabrica-style creativity at Strelka

You can contact the author of this piece on a.kozlov@steppesinsync.com

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