17th Black Nights Film Festival
Estonia, November 15 - December 1 2013
Estonians are polite people. If you want to cross the street, the cars stop. Nobody urges you to hurry up. Time is not money. For some daily tasks you need patience (such as ordering a hot chocolate in one of the beautiful coffeeshops in the old city of Tallinn, the country’s capital). As it is already end of November, a tiny Christmas market awaits you in the city’s Town Hall Square, the Town Hall itself being a jewel of gothic architecture and listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Weeks before its beginning, the festival sent a most detailed “manual” outlining temperature and currency, festival locations and restaurants and other useful information. The festival staff are decidely friendly, if you ask for a location, they accompany you there. The city is nice and so small that all festival venues are only a few minutes away from each other, so there is no chance of getting lost.
The festival, headed by the active and energetic Tiina Lokk (who founded it in 1997), is one of the leading film events in northern Europe and a center of films from the Baltic/Nordic region (maybe together with Göteborg). Concurently, it introduces independent world cinema to its Estonian public. There’s no central main international competitive section; there are several competitions of the same value: of Eurasian films; of feature debuts coming from the Baltic Sea and Nordic countries; of Estonian films; of North American films. To these competitive sections, the festival adds an astonishing diversity of sidebars. A special program informed of “New Voices in Armenian Cinema”. A focus was dedicated to Canadian cinema (with an extension to Inuit and Arctic cinematography). The “Animated Dreams” section presented an overview on recent animation. The Goethe Institute brought a series of new German films to Tallinn. Hungarian István Szabó received a Lifetime Achievement Award, held a masterclass and showed some of his films — such as Mephisto which took him to international reknown in 1986 and which is unknown to a younger generation of filmgoers today. Another tribute went to Japanese Koji Wakamatsu. Spike Lee’s Oldboy (the remake of Chan-wook Park’s 2003 film of the same name) had its European premiere — proof that the festival has grown considerably in recent years and gained prestige and importance.
Festival, Goethe Institute and FIPRESCI invited five young critics to a workshop. See the reports of the “Tallinnts”. (Klaus Eder, edited by Amber Wilkinson)
Black Nights Film Festival: ww.poff.ee