There’s no better cinematic praise than to be evocative of Béla Tarr’s tour de force Werckmeister Harmonies. And The Temptation of St. Tony is just that. Veiko Õunpuu has weaved an existential rumination on Eastern European temporality, where work is waiting and waiting is work, and a visually stunning critique of the exacerbation of difference that post-communist times have to offer. A nouveau riche class fascinated by its newly imported sense of sophistication and superiority is so in love with itself that getting a glimpse of the lower classes is as unbearable as staring at Medusa right in the eye. Continue reading Veiko Õunpuu – Püha Tõnu kiusamine AKA The Temptation of St. Tony (2009)
Jakub Luukas, who had gone to Africa as a christian missionary shortly after World War II, returns to the small Estonian island where he was born more than 70 years ago. Since it is now being used as a testing-ground for bombs, it is completely deserted. With a horse and three beehives, Jakub lives here in complete isolation, dreaming of translating Vergil’s pastorale “Georgica” into Swahili. His life changes when a young, mute boy comes onto the island: even though they both live in completely different internal worlds;
The film continuously shows us Jakubs memories of Africa and the boy’s longing for his mother. They form an intense human bond, full of poetry and mutual respect. As a theme for his film, the director names the new inspirations his country needs to find its own identity after the fall of the Soviet empire. Continue reading Sulev Keedus – Georgica (1998)
Adam’s Passion is the moving first collaboration between two “masters of slow motion who harmonize perfectly with each other” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). In the spectacular setting of a former submarine factory, American director and universal artist Robert Wilson creates a poetic visual world in which the mystical musical language of the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt can cast its meditative spell. Three of Pärt’s major works – Adam’s Lament, Tabula rasa, and Miserere, as well as Sequentia, a new work composed especially for this production – are brought together here using light, space, and movement to create a tightly-woven Gesamtkunstwerk in which the artistic visions of these two great artists mirror each other. Continue reading Robert Wilson – Arvo Part: Adam’s Passion (2015)
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 Elmo Nüganen – Nimed marmortahvlil AKA Names Engraved in Marble (2002)
“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 Martti Helde – Risttuules AKA In The Crosswind (2014)
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 Elmo Nüganen – 1944 (2015)
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 Ilmar Raag – Kertu AKA Love is Blind (2013)