A sincere nod of gratitude needs to be given to the persons who set the ESTDOCS experience into motion, Aarne Vahtra, this year the reviewer in the Estonian section of this paper and Olev Remsu, the moderator for the first two years of the ESTDOCS.
ESTDOCS this year had an added feature, a jury, made up of three Estonian documentary filmmakers from Canada. The lead panelist was Tiina Soomet, Margus Jukkum and Reet Mae were the other two judges. They decided which of the films were the best, and they will be honoured with the money raffled from the sale of tickets to Estonia and back by Baltic Design Tours.
Though Mae’s work has already appeared at ESTDOCS —her and her brother Tom’s work on folk musician Alfred Kuus — the others could well stock an ESTDOCS of their own with their work.
Soomet has had 30 years of experience starting at the National Film Board of Canada. Her first documentary THE ESTONIANS: FOR THE RECORD opened during ESTO 84 and the Festival of Festivals. Since then she finished the 10th anniversary of an educational series SCANNING THE MOVIES.
Jukkum has also been filming for more than 30 years with credits from TELE QUÉBEC, CBC, CANAL D, TFO, RADIO CANADA, CANAL VIE, GLOBAL, CTV, DISCOVERY HEALTH, HISTORY and PBS.
Mae has a background in animation and graphic arts, and has worked with her brother Tom since 1990 on other documentary projects.
WHO ARE YOU - PALLADIUM 50 min. prod. Anneli Ahven dir. Ago Ruus
A Traken purebred horse from Prussia has made its way to Estonia and learned to talk. This allows us to share the life of a show horse. Great if you like talking horses.
COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION 52 min. prod. Juhan Aare dir. Toomas Lepp
The Estonian delegation to the “Peoples Representatives Congress of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” (1989-1991) —@ 40-something members of the @ 2,500 members total, the smallest number in the Soviet Union — claims to be a driving force behind Estonian re-independence claims the film. Producer Juhan Aare, a filmmaker and a delegate to the “congress” shot much of the footage in Moscow. Faces that are familiar at the “congress” are Edgar Savisaar and Arnold Rüütel. The relationship that the Estonian members of the “congress” had with former “congress” Chairman Boris Yeltsin is interesting, especially when his presence in Estonia stopped an invasion by the army. People watching the film got the impression that even though the Estonians at the “congress” wanted all the trappings of independence they didn’t want to go too far from “Mother Russia”. The final push for re-independence had to come from the “song festival” and the Mart Laars. Others felt that both sides contributed to the total result.
MAN FROM ANIMAZONE 58 min. prod. Arko Okk dir. Hardi Volmer
This well made film is about an animation genre, which has received worldwide acceptance with its works, which are “grotesque, absurd and funny”. The subject is Priit Pärn, an animator who has reached the age of 60. The concept of Estonian humour is best explained by our Estonian-to-Estonian translator, member of ESTDOCS, Killi Mirka, “the humour had to be subtle, so non-Estonians couldn’t understand”. Filmmaker Marcus Kolga loved it. So there.
THE ART OF SELLING 68 min. prod. Jaak Kilmi dir. Andres Maimik and Jaak Kilmi
When Estonia became re-independent everybody wanted to become rich overnight and that opened the door for companies like Tupperware, door-to-door book sales, fundamentalist religions and the kind of confidence building where people walk over hot coals.
Some went to sell books in the United States but were sent back because they brought a film crew with them. A comment that was interesting was, “if everybody is selling something who is doing the work?”
THE SUM OF ABSENT DAYS 52 min. prod. Anneli Ahven and Heidi Pruuli
A well-done tragedy of sorts of the composer Eduard Tubin who was already along with his career in Estonia when because the Red Army was invading, he had to leave, along with his family, and relocate to Sweden. In Sweden he was not recognized with the respect he was accustomed to in Estonia. He encountered difficulties with the Estonian community in Sweden when he went to visit (Soviet) Estonia and met with the music community. He did continue with his composing but at a slower pace. Profound comments by violin virtuoso Käbi Laretei, orchestral conductor Neeme Järvi and son Eino Tubin.
HEADWIND HALL 52 min prod. Artur Talvik dir. Priit Valkna
A very humourous film about a choral conductor Tõnu Kaljuste who quits his job and decides to build an opera house on a deserted (except for two people) island visual view from Tallinn that used to be a Soviet military base and subsequently the home of an inventor named Schmidt who planned to build a sailboat doubling his power using the headwind. It seems the more people tell Kaljuste his idea is — well, nuts, — the more energy he gets. The island has no ferry service, so construction supplies and equipment need to brought in by special boat. The opera house and thus the film takes six years to complete but finally ... And as a bonus Artur Talvik is dragged out of bed and appears in front of the crowd at ESTDOCS in Toronto via Skype (televised remote) to answer questions and receive the applause of the audience. Speaking to Kalvik we find out why the film was so funny.
ESTDOCS was terrific. Ellen Valter and her troupe of well-organized worker bees were fantastic. It was like a Toronto International Film Festival in miniature. Can’t wait until next year. Thank you!
Final ESTDOCS reviews