Thursday, June 14, 2012

"The Class", by Ilmar Raag (2007)

How a social comment can be entertaining
Review by Sten Leesmann

It is definitely hard to imagine how a morbid film like “The Class” can, with all its issues regarding bullying and violence, still be considered as entertainment, but the fact remains that Ilmar Raag’s composition is a prime example of a perfect mixture of art and entertainment. Skillfully directed, shot and edited, it’s a masterpiece that Estonian cinema can definitely hold high as one of the magnum opus of our short censorship-free history. That being said, the much-acclaimed drama still has weak flanks that even Atlas himself couldn’t uphold.

Without revealing much of the well built-up suspension through retelling the movie, one must commend the way the story of Kaspar and Joosep is portrayed. Kaspar, the protagonist, is a simple country boy with principles who moved to the city. The main conflict unravels when one day he decides to make a stand against the leader of the pack in the class, the antagonist, Anders, in order to prevent the whole group’s everyday bullying of Joosep. The story takes place in a rather short period. We are given 7 days to understand the characters and get on the same wave-length with the director.

The one flaw this movie suffers from must be the overusing of profanity. While it is a refreshing touch in Estonian film, considering the borders that surrounded the creativity for the large part on the 20th century, it still diminishes an otherwise outstanding film. The dialogue wasn’t believable at times and made one think that Ilmar Raag just hung out at the local youth center during the pre-production and picked up 90% of the cursing from there. It is still possible to put this indiscretion at a distance and look at the other great aspects this film achieved, but it can’t be left unsaid that the dialogue could have been emphasized more. This defect surely inhibited character development at times.

Putting the dialogue aside, the young cast must be commended. Vallo Kirs and Pärt Uusberg especially deserve full praise for their respective portrayals of Kaspar and Joosep. One can really feel for both of them as their problems mount with each day. Meanwhile, Lauri Pedaja also gives a notable performance as a mean pecker who the viewer loves to hate from the first moment they lay their eyes on him. We never really get to know the reasons why the conflict exists to begin with and it probably isn’t important. Maybe the non-explanatory stance that Raag uses is meant to tell the viewer that some things just have been and will be the same, unless some definitive action is taken.

The most depressing issue is that schools where these kinds of affairs occur actually exist in Estonia and “The Class” is nothing more than a brutally honest depiction of these events. As shown in the film, it is not uncommon that there is one leader after whom the whole class runs amuck. It may seem totally over-illustrated and ridiculous at times, but the problem is very much there and the overly passionate expression that Raag uses functions as acknowledgment of the topic as opposed to categorization of unbelievable fiction.

The technical department was also at its best in this movie. The editing and cinematography deserve special mention due to its diversity. It keeps its fast pace throughout the movie and taking the short time period in which the story takes place into consideration, Raag definitely made the right choice. The viewer can feel that he is in the hurricane himself, when the continuous clashes between Kaspar and Anders take place. Meanwhile we get longer shots and some powerful mis-en-scene’s that vigorously bring out the best and worst in the main characters. Through interesting camera angles and enjoyable score “The Class” toys with the artistic and entertainment value without fully committing itself to one or the other.

The producers can also be credited for killing a cash cow because in 2010, “The Class” was followed by a mini-series, “The Class: Life after”. Without revealing the somewhat twist ending, it could be said that the following series wasn’t really necessary, but it still works as a conclusion. Personally I liked the ending of the film and felt that the project could have been left untouched but this choice is really for everyone to make themselves. Whichever one is preferred, nothing can take away the importance of “The Class” in contemporary Estonian cinema: a bold and honest depiction of a very real problem while offering a refreshing touch in the technical section as well. Altogether an enjoyable watch.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kuku: I will stay alive, by Andres Maimik, Kaidi Kaasik (2011)

A Documentary Glance at the Curses of an Estonian Artist:

By Greta Varts

The 2011 documentary follows a known Estonian actor in his failing attempts at battling alcoholism, finding work and maintaining relationships. Arvo Kukumägi (born in 1958) is one of the few Estonian actors who can primarily be called a film actor. He has also had roles in the theatre, but his best known and most valued roles belong to Estonian film classics, such as „Ideaalmaastik“ (Ideal Landscape, 1980, dir. Peeter Simm), „Keskea rõõmud“ (Midlife Joys, 1984, dir. Lembit Ulfsak), „Karu süda“ (The Heart of the Bear, 2001, Arvo Iho) and many others. All together, starting his career in 1977, Kukumägi has over 40 films under his belt to this day, in addition many television projects and theatre roles. However, the curse hanging over the realisation of talent and a happy fulfilled life for and artist, is the common, yet personal devil of alcohol.

The camera follows Kuku (known nickname for Arvo Kukumägi) in harsh and emotional episodes of his life and one of the best aspects of this documentary is the feeling that the camera has had no obstacles in terms of getting close to both Kuku and the people around him. We see the good and the bad, the viewer is as close as can get to both joy of life and despair. The viewer receives up close the emotional love for life and for people that Kuku finds in the hopeful moments, at the turning points of starting again. Yet the viewer is also forced to witness first hand the moments of hopelessness at times when Kuku’s face has become almost unrecognisable from the swollen agony of drink, when the shattered remains of a human being are presented to the people around him by the seemingly never-ending drinking cycle. We see him at his best and his worst. 

It is also interesting to observe Kuku’s many roles in life. The two main people well portrayed and important parts of Kuku’s illness and heart, are his girlfriend and a childhood friend, a disabled man from Kuku’s birth place Setumaa. The suffering of the girlfriend and remaining at Kuku’s side through worst of times is a remarkably emotional story of sacrifice and love. His fatherly relationship to his disabled friend is a touching portrait of the corners of life so unattainable to the average cinema goer. Kuku is a complicated character and as much as he lacks control over his drinking, he also encapsulates as a person, full of so much spiritual yearning and joy for life. The film offers a rollercoaster-like journey through the most meaningful aspects of life and somehow manages to pull together a portrait that rises higher than a story of another alcoholic. As mentioned, the documentary shows us also important social settings – the role of an artist in a society, the curious cultural setting of Setumaa (the south-east corner of Estonia) and the co-existing contrasts of Estonia where there is small step between glamorous magazine parties and village drunks wasting away on their front porches. 

The contrasts of the social and cultural context; and the forever remaining choice of succumbing to the devil or rising above the challenges of addiction is a condition not only typical to Kuku. Estonian society is one of the leaders in terms of countries with most cases of severe alcoholism in the world and the documentary unfortunately offers a familiar sight of challenges recognisable for many a local viewer. However, the real value of this documentary is the intimate presence of the camera eye in an also curious double role. In a way the camera serves as a receiver, a supporting anonymous person to whom these stories are shared. On the other hand, it serves as an invisible observer with an all-access pass with no judgement. Adding the multifaceted character of Arvo Kukumägi to the mix, the documentary serves a gripping and touching viewing for all.

Kuku: mina jään ellu / Kuku : I Will Stay Alive. Directed by Andres Maimik and Kaidi Kaasik; edited by Martin Männik and overseen by also Arvo Kukumägi himself. Produced by Kuukulgur in 2011.

"Nipernaadi - The Adventurer" by Kaljo Kiisk (1983)

“I walk along gray endless road... I walk and walk”

Review by Taavi Lehari

“Nipernaadi / The Adventurer”, by Kaljo Kiisk (1983) is a sweet Estonian drama with slight humour about Toomas Nipernaadi,  a vagabond who hasn’t got any past nor future.

In different Estonian places he gains new identity and presents himself as whoever – sailor, explorer, farmer etc. ... whoever as long as he can seduce another young girl and promise her wealth and happiness. Every time before he has to achieve his promises, he disappears leaving everything behind. This is the first impression of this funny fellow.

The true aim of his actions are revealed in the final, but the viewer can already assume during the film, that there is some secret behind this man.

The Estonian Casanova

The film skips introduction act and from the very first second of the movie,  all the action will begin. Through his journey the viewer will get to know this weird guy step-by-step. Nipernaadi tends to lie very easily and for some reason, locals will eventually believe all his lies. His promises are like fairy-tales, what melt every girls heart and creates trust.

The story is divided into four chapters – four different places where Toomas stops. His journey starts in the middle of hot summer and ends in early winter giving his path a metaphorical meaning. In the center of the film, Nipernaadi looks already tired, his cheerfulness  becomes more inactive and we can guess, that his plans haven’t been as successful as hoped. So far, this has been this Estonian Casanova kind of story.

Every place is associated with different girl, for instance the first chapter and place could be named after “Milla”, second after sisters “Ello and Tralla” etc. As the journey continues, Nipernaadi will look older and serious until ...  a surprise, everything alters punchline.

Nipernaadis figure isn’t the only interesting character in the story. Novel author and script writer have captured a big range of different human beings who will meet this particular hero. From summer manors to farms, from inner land to sea, every single character is unique.

We can also say that we see most of the sides in Nipernaadi, what he actually doesn’t have and his true identity is shown in the end with only few moments. One man, but many different characters. On the other hand, there are many different young female figures, who eventually look pretty much the same, after they have fallen to Toomas.
Another interesting phenomenon of this piece is that it’s full of romantic themes, but there aren’t really any romantic scenes in the sense we usually picture them. I think it’s a great ability to make a such strong romantic stories without showing any proper love-scene.

Made by the elite

Original novel was released in 1928, written by August Gailit.

Movie was made by true elite of Estonian filmmakers – director Kaljo Kiisk, cinematographer Jüri Sillart and art designer Tõnu Virve. Screenplay was adapted by well-known Estonian poet and actor Juhan Viiding.

“Nipernaadi” is a beautiful film, what shows wonderful images of Estonian summer – sunset over fields, soft mist in early mornings forest – and golden but dark Estonian autumn. All the atmosphere and environment is stunning. Estonian people love it also for another important factor – the music. There’s only few musical themes in the film and one original song – “Rändaja Õhtulaul / Evening Song of the Traveler”, sung by Anne Maasik, but these tunes are recognizable for most of Estonian people.

In the end...

... Nipernaadi isn’t a bad man. Yes, his unfulfilled promises will break young girls naive hearts, but brings some joy, action and changes into passive village-lives. And when it comes to film, “Nipernaadi / The Adventurer” is one of the best pieces, where you can see beautiful and blooming Estonian nature through protagonists journey.

Novel by: August Gailit
Screenplay: Juhan Viiding

Director: Kaljo Kiisk (“Hullumeelsus / Madness”)
Cinematographer: Jüri Sillart (“The hotel of the “Perished Alpinist””)
Art design: Tõnu Virve (“The hotel of the “Perished Alpinist"”)

"Names Engraved in Marble" by Elmo Nüganen (2002)

The ‘must-be’ national epic movie

Essay by Taavi Lehari

Last year of World War I. In February 1918, a small eastern-European country declares it’s independence, in November starts Estonian War of Independence to defend itself political status ...

This multi-functional story has two dimensions like most ‘based-on-true-life’ war films. Firstly, of course, the whole theme about this certain war and nation, secondly the focus point what is represented through young and slightly naive students who rush in the war front.

This was a debut film for actor and theatre director Elmo Nüganen, who adapted this story from same-name autobiographical novel by Albert Kivikas. As predicted, it became a hit in Estonian cinemas and still holds viewer record – 167 000 (12% of population).  

Due to World War II and occupation of Estonia from 1940 to1991, this is the first film after regaining the independence which deals with liberation war events. In 1927, well-known director Theodor Luts made a silent-movie “Noored kotkad” (“Young Eagles”) on the same subject.

A corridor-country

For 700 years, territory of Estonia has been ruled by other nations, countries and orders. In spite of that, Estonian language, culture and nationality had remained. In 19th century the first National Awakening occurred and this became a great assumption for declaring Independence in 1918 what actually was ‘right time – right place’ kind of happening. Territory of Estonia was no-longer a part of Russian Empire. At that time nobody imagined how this country would function by it’s own, especially during war. Nevertheless, this country with population of 1 million was born.

May 1918, (3 months old) Republic of Estonia is occupied by German Keiserreich, soon after that, World War I will end with Germany is defeated. That also stops German authority in Estonia. Meanwhile communists have taken over Russian Empire and attack Estonia to establish itself in Europe. Mobilization in Estonia fails, so the only hope are up to volunteers.  28. November the War of Independence begun. With the help of Finnish, British, Latvian and white-Russian armies, Estonian Army fought against Bolsheviks and Baltische Landeswehr until the victory in 1920. These events construct the basic time-line for this epic tale.

‘Will they be victorious or get names engraved in marble’

The film focuses on a class full of boys from Tartu who have a choice – to join army and become social heroes, risking their lives, or to stay back and watch how their country manages to stay independent, gaining themselves a title of coward. So the film also deals with the great manhood question, whether they have the courage or not.

Students from Tartu School of Commerce show us the variety of young male characters and their different stories in this particular event. Same age, place and time, but totally different reactions, background and destiny. Formation of becoming from a boy to a man if we’re talking about war conception. Growth and develop of these young troops is clear and visible. Their behaviour in their first assignment is a bit ridiculous and  cowardly. Almost opposite to behaviour in the end. All these young men put their lives in danger to protect this young country, realizing that maybe they’ll never see it free again.

A soft war hero

The biggest conflict falls on the shoulders of Henn Ahas, protagonist, doubting in war conception. On one side, he sees young republic struggling in capitalism and army’s minority. On the other Bolsheviks, whose ambition is to give freedom and equality to everyone through communism, planning to achieve it with bloody revolution though. Ahas who is soft-tempered and silent young man who has to make this decision between his inner wants and social pressure.

Since he’s the youngest son from a rather poor family, his older brother Ants Ahas represents him a very important figure. But when it comes to war, finds Henn himself in front of a dilemma. Will he be like his older brother who goes to fight? Or will actually listen to Ants who recommended to support their parents, cause losing both is unbearable. As the story unfolds, we see that Henn will join the army and meet his brother in the front. But from the enemies side.

  The Estonian Potemkin and the birth of a nation

When I try to compare this film to well-known movie-classics, the first two flipping in my mind are Eisenstein's “Battleship Potemkin” and Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation”. Griffiths classic because of it’s theme, which is very similar to Estonian movie. Kind of ‘must-be national epic movie’. Main reason, why Eisenstein's masterpiece, are the dramatic shooting and battle sequences, what recalled scene called “Odessa’s stairs”. Dramatic dying moments in the centre of a war looks very similar to overrunning the stairs in Potemkin.

Big pro for foreigner viewer is the length and concentration. It’s 90-minute walk in history, skipping the political information or giving it through details and focusing individually, raising empathy. It’s concrete, but not too instant; informative and tragic; romantic and beautiful.

The genre is war, romance and drama. It’s clear when it comes to war and drama, but the romance is mostly added by the director to form it into more film-likely story. This is another difficulty, also hope, what is thrown in front of the protagonist. Romantic episodes are calming the viewer and still reminding that the characters are young and green. Director told that the romance should warm the viewer, because all the cold tragedy and war-action can be too depressing. Love brings hope to this story and is one of the biggest reason why this film isn’t that sad as it could be.

A piece of culture

As said, “Names Engraved in Marble” is national epic-movie, what has important part in culture and history, not so much in film nor art history. Of course it’s possible to talk about the aesthetics of this film, but we have to consider that it really wasn’t the first aim for this piece. It had to capture many memories and fill the cultural hole in national filmography. With this film, Estonian can present their historic past to world and keep it for younger generations as learning material. There’re certainly mistakes, especially in continuity and rather theatrical acting, but the tragedy of this tale takes the attention from these details.

Since this film was the Elmo Nüganen’s first, it also was Estonian first war-drama after a long time. That means Estonian  war-experimenting action scenes, explosions, shootings etc. are a bit rough and not so overwhelming like in Hollywood, of course, but they’ll make the right expression for the viewer. We can still say it was a big step for national movie-making.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Autumn Ball by Veiko Õunpuu (2007)

"Autumn Ball" allows you to enter the world of bleak solitude which has a great sense of humor and irony that helps us and the characters to overcome their problems. In the end there aren`t any right or false answers just the weight of being human. 

Review by Henryk Johan Novod

"Autumn Ball"("Sügisball", 2007) is the first full length film by Estonian filmmaker Veiko Õunpuu. The film is probably the most well known contemporary Estonian film to date. It was screened in many European film festivals and gained a lot of attention which is very uncommon for an Estonian film. His first contribution to Estonian cinema was a short film titled "Empty" ("Tühirand", 2006) which was based on Mati Unt`s novel. These two films are connected with the same approach of existentialism. At this point Õunpuu`s last feature film was a very complex art house drama "Temptation of St. Tony"("Püha Tõnu kiusamine", 2009) which got mixed reviews in Estonia but it was well received abroad when it was screened in various film festivals all around Europe.

Two different approaches to "Autumn Ball" 
"Autumn Ball" is based on a novel of the same name by Mati Unt ("Autumn Ball", 1979). The novel is about different types of people living in Mustamäe in Soviet Estonia. Unt’s novel concentrates on the difficult lives of people when they try to survive in the mundane and inhumane society, find intimacy and their place in a country that is completely separated from the rest of the world. Õunpuu also wrote the script, but unlike Unt he focuses on the contemporary Estonia and how emptiness has affected people’s daily lives, their mindset and living conditions. He takes on many different characters who all have their own dreams, desires and needs.

Õunpuu`s story takes place in Lasnamägi. This city was built during the Soviet era to welcome workers and simple folk coming from Soviet Russia. Even now Russians mainly populate it. Õunpuu tells a story of emptiness in man’s heart and anxious desire (but not successful desire) to change their life or find something to keep them going. "Autumn Ball" is not a light-hearted drama. It is an existentialistic drama film at its best. The world of anxious people trying to find comfort and meaning to their lives is presented in bleak colours that emphasize on the human`s condition. The colors are emphasized by the quite natural structure of the locations where our ensemble of characters are trying to figure themselves out. Lasnamägi is basically filled with nine-stories high apartment buildings that all look the same. They have a great resemblance to the apartment blocks of Northern London that are common to films of English social realism. "Autumn Ball" is subtle and unnerving, but it also has this extreme sense of tranquillity. The film is very static, but still very lively. The empty fields and high apartment towers illustrate the progress of these characters. Within the quiet, but struggling still life of Lasnamägi we get to witness the blank humour that dwell inside each and every character. When it surfaces we get a glimpse of irony that unsettles the saddening mood.

The harsh reality of loneliness
Apartment blocks are the true characters of the film. We see them everywhere. They set different moods although they are always the same. The characters are the ones who truly matter besides the towering buildings. They make you feel less negative about yourself and manage to keep you fascinated by their personal struggles. The film never really tries to make its audience uncomfortable by the subjective approach of its topic. These characters need empathy, but the film doesn’t need it from the audience. We see them like ghosts in a desolated world where there are no space for human connection. There are only hopeless attempts to interact with each other. They are in need for it, but even the greatest attempt to achieve their goals end up with a disappointment, but every disappointment manages to resurface their hope for a better future. The truth is "Autumn Ball" contemplates the human condition in a grey city of blank apartment buildings that are like empty boxes and develops the progression of lonely, but hopeful characters who finally achieve their goal to see life in Lasnamägi other way around.

Õunpuu`s direction can be categorised among the films that deal with peoples lives in post-soviet countries, but the goal isn’t concentrating purely on Estonian point of view. Õunpuu`s style is distinctive, but still very similar to the wave of European films that focus on existentialism of people in different conditions. "Autumn Ball" isn’t dealing with light subject matter, but the director manages to maintain the tender sense of humour. The characters aren’t hopeless and empty. They are meaningful souls who desire to see the light of day in the silent sky above the faceless Lasnamägi. They don’t know how to see the light, but they will try even when every attempt fails and their situation seems to get even more desperate than ever before.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Graveyard keeper’s Daughter by Katrin Laur (2011)

Digging up the dirt in Estonia.
Review by Helen Schasmin

Where does the line between film and reality cross with interpretation, where is the indemnity of overloaded realism? There are a lot of complex questions we need to ask ourselves while watching Estonian film. It seems often that filmmakers feel the urge to deal with too many topics and levels of understanding and so is the case with the film Graveyard Geeper’s Daughter (Surnuaiavahi tütar). Poverty is a major issue in Estonian society, even nowadays and it is a smart gesture to use the film medium to attract people’attention on this issue. Katrin Laur’s film does it ambitiously but also try to deal with too many issues, letting the feeling of an overloaded pile of information.

The film focuses on the ruination of a family caused by alcoholism, unemployment and poor living conditions. In the middle of the downfall spiral is a young schoolgirl Lucia who struggles with her school assignments and at the same time tries to take care of her sister with Down’s syndrome. The family undergoes a spare moment of joy when the father can take his family to Finland where he has been invited. But as they return to Estonia nothing has really changed – not in their personalities, ambitions or mentality.

Estonia vs Finland

The comparison of the two countries – Estonia and Finland, leads to an unrealistic touch. It raises unanswered questions like: why would a poor family come back to their broken Estonian home after having experienced the freedom and opportunities of a welfare society? There is no reflection about this choice. Was it willing or mandatory? Nor is there a hint how the trip influenced them later on. What is more, the film puts all Estonian negative stereotypes in one spotlight and expects it to work. Instead of that it raises just more questions: if there is no escape from the character’s everyday problems and no solutions to them, should not that be handled throughout metaphors and allegories, not just be bluntly put on the screen? Clumsy dialogues and poor acting of the young protagonist make it worse. Overall it seems that the actors do not connect to each other, alienate from their roles, and instead of blending to each other and creating opposites or varieties, it feels like the links between them are unnatural and have been unfolded. Fortunately is the leading male character (Rain Simmul) excellent in his part and he seems to carry the plot on well, as if he was made for the part. Tough his role does not seem to be very challenging, it is still enjoyable and gives the film some diversity.

Despite of the depressive theme of the Graveyard Keeper’s Daughter, the image of the film is very colorful, soft and enlightening. Wonderful camera movements by cinematograph Anssi Leino are full of bright coulors give the film a beautiful touch that captures the Estonian landscape and all its individuality. Also the social life environment of Estonian countryside has been captured very truly and adequately, it can be considered a success. The work of the sound designers must be complimented. Lucia’s voice over has been tuned so that it sounds like her speaking but it is actually an older actress who gave her voice to the character. Unfortunately that kind of action leads to a conflict: Lucia’s character’s emotions become repulsive, no childish emotions are left in it and it feels violent in the end.

One question remains at the end : is film the only place to exhale the depression of nationality? A simple answer would be: no. In Graveyard Keeper’s Daughter this serious theme has been handled poorly. Problems have been glutted on top of each other without beeing truly developed to a solution. Estonians are perfectly aware of the social problems. There are plenty of nice and positive things in life to enjoy and interpret in films. The time of overloaded realism in Estonian film medium is over, welcome to the happy endings. 

Letters to Angel, by Sulev Keedus (2011)

An ode to the loss of memory

Sulev Keedus fourth film  rediscovers his country through the eyes of an Afghanistan war veteran who tries to escape his souvenirs and hope to find peace with his granddaughter, Angel.

Review by Ra Ragnar Novod

Letters to Angel (Kirjad Inglile) is an ode to the old world before rapid globalization and to the value of human soul in a world where global interests have reached the level where a single individual doesn’t have the same value as united interest of the world. We see it unfolding through the eyes of Afghanistan war veteran. Like so many others he returns home after nearly 20 years being abroad. He has been gone for so long that he doesn’t recognize his home anymore and not one person is waiting for him. His wife and daughter are gone, seemingly forever. All that remains is his former home. This kind of plot is hard to summarize and anyway, it wouldn’t give a hint of the director’s style and how it creates the world around the theme that mourns the loss of memory and innocence. It is a personal story told from a one man`s point of view. The character seems at least partly close to the director himself which makes the story even more personal than it is for the main character Kirotaja.

Sulev Keedus is one of the most famous Estonian film-makers, whose most celebrated film is Georgica (1998). Letters to Angel is the fourth film he made in 21 years – rare appearances that usually put him in the prestigious category of “auteurs”. Keedus has a very distinctive style. He uses elements that don`t belong to the real everyday life. For instance the fact that Kirotaja`s hometown is now populated by only women and men have been numbed down to a degree of madness. It’s said that women live longer than men, which becomes a terrifying form of truth. The theme about the loss of memory really comes across when you realize that all the nightmares of war are becoming one with Kirotaja`s consciousness. He sees contemporary Estonia as a war ridden wasteland filled with lonely souls. Everywhere he goes he finds signs of chaos – violence and death. He feels surrounded by the sights and sounds of war that used to be his everyday life during his years in Afghanistan. Kirotaja meets old friends and new faces, all running from or towards something, all trying to survive. It`s all part of the grand search of one`s identity. 

Loss and acceptance 

Keedus knows exactly what he wants in the frame. His priority doesn’t seem to be the audience pleasure but how the mind is exercised while seeing the film. Letters to Angel express his style in the clearest and best way. Even more than his previous films, Somnanbuul (2003) and Georgica (1998). Loss and acceptance are the foundations of this story which at first seems to happen in the every day life but is slowly penetrated by elements of grotesque, absurd, insanity… The human side of the story is not entirely forgotten – Kirotaja has never seen his daughter’s baby Angel (Ingela). He only heard her voice on the phone and she is the only reason he came back from Afghanistan, a place where he changed his lifestyle and accepted a more peaceful and human way of life. Kirotaja sees modern day world as a German would look at the Inuit lifestyle : it looks like something out of a absurd science fiction novel.

Maybe the film is the dream of a feverish dying man whose spirit’s journey is fed by the desire of finding his loved ones. It may also be an absurd and grotesque way to show how the world is so intermingled that our identities become less important than Kirotaja’s pen which he always chews while writing letters with no address to his Angel.

  • About modern Estonian cinema 

Despite Sulev Keedus made most of his films after Estonia regained its independence in 1991 after the collapse of the USSR, the frontier between past and present, between the pre-independence period and what happened after is always blurred. That is what makes his films in particular and Estonian cinema in general interesting. Of course, Estonian films don`t get wide international releases and most of the time they are only screened in European films festivals, which contributes to the illusion of a small scale industry not worthy to be recognized abroad. Actually Estonian film industry may be small but it’s also modern and it’s becoming more and more distinctive.