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
“Estonian history gets a topsy-turvy interpretation in this satiric comedy from director Kaaren Kaer. Uru (Ott Sepp) is an adventurous young man who has been getting in touch with his compassionate side while studying at a monastery. When he comes back home to Estonia, he finds things are not as he might have hoped; both France and Germany are trying to lay claim to his homeland, and the nation is preparing itself for a long battle to win its independence. Despite his non-violent philosophy, Uru is drawn into the war to free his people, though it soon becomes evident neither strategy or combat skills are his strong suit. Malev (aka Men At Arms) was written by members of O-Fraktsioon, a noted Estonian sketch-comedy troupe. ”
by Mark Deming Continue reading
Two American secret agents – Frank and Wendy – are sent to the world’s hotbed of danger, known as Estonia. Estonia is a silly place, perhaps even sillier than the agents themselves. Frank and Wendy, for whom saving the world is their daily work, achieve both mental and manual feats with the greatest of ease. It appears that nothing can prevent their ultimate victory, but go figure. The axis of evil does not wither and attacks the super-agents from where they can least expect it… Continue reading