The documentary film festival’s final two days were in Toronto and Hamilton. During the festival there were also screenings at the Estonian House and Ehatare as well as the gala performance at the Crescent School, which featured the festival’s short film competition, presided over by filmmaker Tiina Soomet. Even with the best intentions I was unable to make all screenings!
The final films:
The Family Prd. Ants Vist, dir. Mart Taevere, 28 min. 2009.
A fascinating perspective of the 23 million Finno-Ugric people (of which the Estonians, Finnish and Hungarians are a part). There are also the Mari who live in a very constricted fashion in Russia. It is an example of the attempts at social genocide practiced by the Russians. Comments by people in the audience included that Moscow is a Mari word and that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is from Karelia (a part of Finland that was annexed by the Soviets after occupation during WW II) province. Ouch!
The Fortieth War Prd. & dir. Andres Sööt, 67 min. 2005.
Forty is the count of the number of wars that have been fought on Estonian soil. The story is about the Estonian men that wanted to defend Estonia against the Soviets during WW II. They joined the legendary Estonian battalion "Narva", hoping to be given proper training and gear. They were instead sent to the Ukraine and later back to Estonia to the battle of the Sinimäed, "Blue Hills," where they suffered heavy losses when they were fighting under the Wiking SS Division. Historical footage was spliced into the film. A key section of the film focused on sixty veterans meeting in the Sinimäed battlegrounds six decades after fighting there. There is also focus on a political battle over the placement of a monument commemorating the battalion. Two veterans of the Narva battalion, scoutmaster Egbert Runge and member of the Estonian Central Council Mihkel Salusoo attested to the veracity of the film.
Ants Eskola: To Be or Not to Be Prd. & dir. Kristjan Paul Esperk-Virve 96min. 2008
Ants Eskola, a renowned actor and singer in the Estonia Theatre ends up being sent to the Gulags in Stalin's days of paranoia. He spends the best years of his life there. Eskola survives by developing artwork, which makes him invaluable to the powers at the prison camps. He returns to Estonia and resumes his career on stage at the Estonia. His wife has left Estonia with his children and a German officer. Eskola is hurt by the fact that she didn't even write to him when he was in prison. He marries a lady he knew who did write to him in prison and they have children, the child of whom made this film. The career of Eskola involves everything from contemporary works to Shakespeare. Eskola is trusted by Soviet authorities enough that he is allowed to go to the United States to visit his children from his first marriage. One learns a considerable amount about acting by watching this film. Excellent piece.
My Estonian-to-Estonian translator of past years, Killi Mirka, this year was responsible for bringing the films to the festival, especially the last one, Ants Eskola.
And now, the volunteers that contributed their time to make this festival possible:
Festival Director: Ellen Valter. Programming Director: Killi Mirka. Programming Group: Robert Hiis, Kalle Kadakas, Reet Mae, Mart Pikkov. Technical Director: Rein Ende. Technical Group: Allan Eistrat, Tauno Mölder, Peeter Piil, Andre Vare. Facilities/Front of House: Katrin Kütti-Otsa, Viive Tork, and Liis Truuvert. Communications: Maimu Mölder, Linda Turu. Design: Liz Derrick Designs, Tiina Aleman Iannotti. Jury Consultant: Kalli Paakspuu. Tõnu Orav put in endless fundraising time selling tickets for a draw for an airline ticket to Estonia from Finnair, proceeds to the festival.
The festival was again a hit. One already waits for next year and what new films it will bring. The greatest thanks to the volunteers.
EstDocs 2009 (II) (1)