A friend lent me this film a number of years ago and I remembered liking it very much, but as years went by I was never sure if I liked it because it was a good film or because of fond memories of the friend. I recently got hold of it once again and, have seen it again, realise this is a fine film that deserves to be much better known that it is.
The film is set in Estonia in 1918, as the country fights for indepedence. My guess is that knowledge of the conflict might add more enjoyment to the film, but it’s not essential. The film follows a group of students who volunteer to fight for their country. The narrative concentrates on Henn Ahas, one of the students but not the leader, who is played in a wonderful performance by Priit Voigemast. In fact the performances are all uniformly superb, and the script is tight and switches effectively between scenes of war and more human elements of the story. This is a fine film, which works both as a moving story of comradeship and as a military drama. Continue reading
“Risttuules” is very emotional and tragic movie about mass deportation to Siberia based on memories of Erna. It all started 14th of June 1941 when trucks came for the innocent families with their children where they headed to train station and later by animal wagons to Siberia. “How to survive hunger, cold, humiliation, losing friends and freedom, but still keep living on, when almost all hope is lost?” Continue reading
1944 is a 2015 Estonian action war drama film directed by Elmo Nüganen. The film first premiered in February 2015 in Berlin, Germany before its release in Estonia  and other Northern European countries. It was selected as the Estonian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.
The film is set in 1944, during the Battle of Tannenberg Line (25 July – 10 August 1944) until the Sõrve Peninsula Battle of Tehumardi (October – November 1944) and is shown through the eyes of Estonian soldiers who had to pick sides and thus fight against their fellow countrymen. Choices have to be made, not only by the soldiers, but also by their loved ones. The film thus focuses on the individual in the context of the war rather than war itself, and shows the war from both perspectives – those of the Estonians in the Red Army and in the German Army. – Continue reading
Kertu (Ursula Ratasepp) is a girl who is different to other people in her village. Extremely fearful and shy, she keeps to herself, and so the word around the village is that she is a simpleton. One day, Kertu falls in love with the village drunk, Villu (Mait Malmsten). Villu, being an alcoholic, and Kertu, with her timid personality, are both outcasts of society. When they start talking one night at the village party, they are pleasantly surprised to find comfort in each other’s company. Villu seems to be the only one who sees Kertu as a normal person, while Kertu is the only one who doesn’t see Villu as a mere drunkard. They spend a happy night together, but that is all they get – the next day, Kertu’s family is convinced that Villu took advantage of their daughter, even though the girl refuses to press charges against him. But little attention is paid to Kertu’s opinion. For her family, the concept of the two being together is just too incomprehensible – how could a simpleton girl know what’s good for her? Why should the village drunk be trusted? The couple is torn apart, and a struggle begins for the two lovers to make their voices heard. Continue reading
Autumn in the 1990s. An Estonian village in Abkhazia. Forest-covered hills, the sea, tangerine orchards. The Abkhazian War in Georgia. Two villagers – an old man Ivo and his neighbour Markus – are the only ones who haven’t left. Markus wants to harvest his tangerine plantation, although Ivo is against cropping during wartime. As the war approaches and the conflict takes place before their very eyes, Ivo finds a survior on the battlefield – a wounded Caucasian man Akhmed. Despite the danger Ivo takes him to his place. When Markus, while burying the perished Georgians, also finds a survivor. The tangerin harvesters now must resolve their own war, happening under their roof with enemies from both sides. Continue reading
Three episodes from three Baltic nations, all about lost love. In Estonia a political prisoner is set free. Meanwhile his best friend had stolen his girl and now defends his political cowardice: “Some of us must be left outside the prisons to pursue the political fight.” – In Latvia a Russian soldier has a Latvian girlfriend. Her Latvian friends accept her boyfriend. But his two closest soldier friends beat him up, tear the clothes of his girl and threaten to rape her. The loving couple understands that they cannot continue their relationship. – In Lithuania a priest student and an Estonian stripper fall in deep love. The student’s uncle is an enlightened priest who says: “I bless you whatever road you choose to go.” The couple sleep together and agree to meet at the railway station the next morning and go to Estonia. But when the student comes home his uncle has died… (written by Max Scharnberg) Continue reading
Introvert Joosep is the butt of crude jokes from his classmates who are irritated by his taciturn nature. The only support he has comes from Kaspar, whom he sits next to in class.
This isn’t a sociological probe into the theme of adolescent bullying which might turn violently against the perpetrators, but more a universal reflection on the darker sides of the human soul, often hidden beneath an attractive exterior, ready to provoke an unexpected reaction under excess pressure. The acting performances of the leads, in particular, give the story – a linear progression where silly pranks develop into a tragic outcome – a highly credible dimension. Continue reading