Archive for the ‘Tallinn’ Category

Feature Film About Life (2021) Black Night Festival Tallinn

Dir.: Dovile Sarutyte; Cast: Agne Misiunatie, Nele Savicenko, Kestutis Jakstas, Romuald Lavrinovic, Inga Maskarina, Aldona Bronislava Dausienie; Lithuania 2021, 100 min.

Don’t be put off by the rather banal title, this first film from Lithuanian director/co-writer Dovile Sarutyte is a small gem: genre wise, a trauma fuelled road movie that finds dark humour in the banal and the tragic when a young woman is suddenly confronted by the double blow of death and complex funeral arrangements. A time of mourning when we are forced to face the world at the most importune time.

In a Paris hotel we meet Dovile (Misiunatie), a young recording artist in her twenties, celebrating being young and independent with her two girlfriends Egle and Rasa. A day later, at work in her Vilnius studio recording studio in Vilnius, the world implodes with the sudden death of her father. The story continues as past happiness mingles with current anguish – home videos of Dovile’s childhood in the 1990s, and now the aftermath of family tragedy – a clapped-out Mercedes and a neurotic mother (Savicenko).

The two women meet Vladislavas (Lavrinovic) a greedy undertaker capitalising on their grief to sell them the most expensive funeral package. Afterwards, Dovile grapples with the Death Certificate from the hospital morgue, the cause of death was heart failure. Desperate for more detail to help her process her anguish Dovile learns that her father’s liver was severely damaged. The arrangements for the wake are also costly: 500 Euro for a one-day rental. “I could rent a concert hall for that” snaps Dovile and goes to meet Tadas (Jakstas), an old friend of her father, but not before the car breaks down.

Tadas has not seen Dovile’s father for more than six months but proves to be a ‘friend in need’. Father had stopped driving due to an alcohol problem, piling bewilderment onto her shaky state of emotional fragility. Gradually things come together, the Mercedes is repaired and Tadas finds a much cheaper venue for the wake: the boss of the funeral parlour, Zita (Maskarina), is a former flame. Dovile also makes a collage of photos from the family album telling her father’s life story in the wake room, where the urn looks solemn, a life reduced to a pot.

After the funeral, Dovile and her Mum make fun of Zita trying to re kindle her relationship with Tadas. But the laughter turns hollow, when it emerges Dovile’s grandmother somehow missed her lift to the funeral, and she explodes in anger: “You burned my little son”, insisting on a photo of the deceased in an open coffin.

The home videos show a joyful Dovile. But reading between the lines, the truth is quite different. Funny how we often remember the past with rose-tinted spectacles, bringing another strand of false memory to the narrative. At least Dovile and her father bought Christmas presents for each other, and this makes for a mellow ending to the traumatic and frustrating two-day adventure. DoP Eitvydas Doskus has kept up with the pace of the story, the images flying by, but his close-ups of Dovile, who is suffering from a worrying eye infection, are a testament to his skill of creating intimate moments. Dovile Saratyte is certainly a name to be reckoned with – you read it here first! AS


A Place Called Dignity (2021) Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2021

Dir.: Matias Rojas Valencia; Cast: Salvador Insunza, Hanns Zischler, Amalia Kassai, Noa Westermeyer, Tato Dubó, David Gaete, Leonie Wesselow; Chile/France/Germany/ Argentina/Columbia; 2021, 95 min.

The final years of the ‘Colonia Dignidad’ in Parral, Southern Chile are the subject of this spirited drama with its pervasive political undercurrents from Chilean writer/director Matias Rojas Valencia.

The former German Nazi soldier Paul Schäfer (1921-2010) founded a cult colony in 1961. Later, Schäfer supported General Pinochet, the latter’s opponents were tortured and killed in the colony. Schäfer was later accused of sexual abuse by 25 children, sentenced for several decades and fined 1.5 m$. He escaped to Argentina, but was extradited to Chile in 2006 and died in jail four years later. Colonia Dignidad – The True Story, a 2015 semi-documentary has covered some of the same ground as this feature film.

Pablo (Insunza), a twelve-year old local boy – whose father has deserted the family – is given a place in the school by ‘Uncle’ Paul (Zischler), the leader of the colony ‘Dignidad’. Pablo is very insecure, he urinates in public and is permanently taunted by the white boys, mostly Germans. Pablo shares a room with Rudolph (Westermeyer), who is Uncle Paul’s favourite, and can spend the night with him watching TV. Paul and his minions terrorising the teenagers, with regular sessions in the assembly hall, where the misfits are publicly punished. Paul is devious in his approach to the sexual assault victims.

Meanwhile Rudolph has never left the colony, and Pablo has to explain to him what traffic lights are, such is his naivety. Gisela (Kassai), who wants a child, tries her luck with Johannes (Gaete), copying the positions from a book about rhino procreation. Gisela is punished by being forced to wear a white jumper, the sign of a ‘wrong-doer’. White is the theme that runs through house: the huge piano is gleaming white, with a German shepherd languidly stretched out on top.

Inmates disappear regularly from the tightly guarded compound. And soon Pablo will replace Rudolph as Uncle Paul’s sex object. Paul making sure that Pablo wins a race against other boys, declaring him the new ‘sprinter’, an honourable position, even though the other boys, protest, that Pablo is ‘only’ an indigenous boy.

Christmas is still celebrated despite the evil goings-on – but instead of Father Christmas, a ghostly, devil like creature with two horns appears (Johannes in disguise, to make up for transgression). Pablo has enough of being molested, in a dream sequence, his mother visits him, lying in an open coffin. Pablo takes this as a sign and talks Rudolph into joining him in a escape bid, but Paul’s henchmen are alert.

DoP Benjamin Echazarreta creates a startling visual environment that really brings to life the pervading atmosphere of deceit and repression. The dream sequences are fantastic but the the director never neglects politics: in 1989 Paul and a visiting army officer openly discuss the possible implication of Pinochet losing the approaching referendum. Paul is full of angst, but the officer tells him to be hopeful: The dictator will watch out for them even if defeated. Crucially, the film reminds us how Nazi torturers became active after WWII and continue to influence the South American continent to this day – Barby and Mengele being only the tip of the iceberg. AS



Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2021

Hungary is to be the focus of this year’s Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) announces Hungary as the Focus Country for this year’s 25th edition of the festival. The 25th celebration will open with Ildikó Enyedi’s ninth feature The Story of My Wife, which premiered in competition at Cannes this year, with 18 more Hungarian films screening as part of the In Focus: Hungary programme, including 10 films in a special archive section and 8 new films representing the best of current Hungarian cinema.

Eight current feature films will be shown at PÖFF25, including Gábor Fabricius’ Erasing Frank, which premiered in Venice this summer, Kornél Mundruczó’s Evolution, which premiered in Cannes, and Péter Bergendy’s Post Mortem, Hungary’s entry for the Academy Awards. The archive programme includes cinematic gems from acclaimed directors including Ildikó Enyedi, Miklós Jancsó, Márta Mészáros and István Szabó.

The Story of My Wife is set in the 1920s and sees a middle-aged Dutch seaman betting his cynical business partner that he will marry the next woman who comes into the café they’re sitting in, and unfolds from there in an adaptation of the Hungarian poet Milán Füst’s novel of the same title – oosely based on the legend of the cursed Flying Dutchman.

The Hungarian theme continues with György Pálfi’s Perpetuity. And another, Wild Roots, will screen as part of the Just Film sub festival.

Opening Film / In Focus: Hungary

The Story Of My Wife / A feleségem története (2021, Hungary/Germany/Italy/France, Director: Ildikó Enyedi)

Official Selection – In Competition / In Focus: Hungary
Perpetuity (2021, Hungary, Director: György Pálfi)

In Focus: Hungary Programme

Erasing Frank (2021, Hungary, Director: Gabor Fabricius)
Evolution (2021, Germany/Hungary, Director: Kornél Mundruczó)
Post Mortem (2021, Hungary, Director: Péter Bergendy)
Things Worth Weeping for (2020, Hungary, Director: Cristina Grosan)
Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time (2020, Hungary, Dir: Lili Horvát)
Cream (2019, Hungary, Director: Nóra Lakos)

In Focus: Hungary / Just Film Programme

Wild Roots (2021, Hungary, Director: Hajni Kis)

In Focus: Hungary Archive Programme

Merry-Go-Round / Körhinta (1955, Director: Zoltán Fábri)
Current / Sodrásban (1963, Director: István Gaál)
The Round-Up / Szegénylegények (1965, Director: Miklós Jancsó)
Love / Szerelem (1970, Director: Károly Makk)
Sindbad / Szindbád (1971, Director: Huszárik Zoltán)
Nine Months / Kilenc Hólnap (1976, Director: Márta Mészáros)
Mephisto / Mephisto I-II. (1981, Director: István Szabó)
Son of the White Mare / Fehérlófia (1981, Director: Marcell Jankovics)
The Midas Touch / Eldorádó (1988, Director: Géza Bereményi)
My 20th Century / Az én XX. századom (1988, Director: Ildikó Enyedi)

Tallinn Black Nights | 12-28 November 2021

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