On the 7th of October, TIFS (Tallinn International Film Society) will start its activity.The aim is to introduce Estonian history, culture, traditions, way of life and mind through movies to audiences from varying countries and ethnicities.
The films will be with English subtitles and in addition to the screenings, there will be discussion forums, mini-lectures and Q&A sessions with professionals from different sectors, who will help to explore the topics, background and themes of the films.
The TIFS program is curated by Tristan Priimägi, an award-winning film critic, journalist and author of the book “101 Estonian Films”.
The tickets also provide FREE access to the exhibition “My free country” in Estonian History Museum in Maarjamäe castle, where the audience can further examine and explore the topics covered in the film.
- TIFS autumn season program:
25.11 Serving stereotypes: The eastern European identity post-Soviet Union. “Autumn ball” dir. Veiko Õunpuu
16.12 From Union to Union: early eurosceptics in Estonian animation. “Hotel E” dir. Priit Pärn + “Cabbage Head” and “Cabbage Head 2 or back to Europe” dir. Riho Unt
7.10 Soft and cold: soft power in the service of cold war“Disco and Atomic War” dir. Jaak Kilmi
The era of deficit in the 1980s created a cult of capitalist consumer society in the Soviet Union, but in addition to the deficit of goods, there was also a shortage of information that worked in favour of the ruling regime – how can you wish for anything if you don't even know what you can want at all? The lust for Western well-being, that was floating around like a vague pink mist, was realised into a specific visual package via Finnish television, which could be viewed illegally in the northern part of the Estonian SSR. Estonia became a stable of an interesting hybrid form of the Cold War, where pop culture and the so-called soft power were used to achieve ideological dominance. The struggle led to interesting confrontations and forms of cooperation. The authorities were also not immune to Western lust and often worked against the official program, allowing themselves and their loved ones western benefits; received the goods with one hand and tried to cover the holes in the walls with the other. A relationship of interdependence between the West and the East arose, based on mutual contempt, empathy, sympathy and pragmatism alike. Both sides tried to take advantage of the other, but were also aware of it. A derivative of the classic "doublethink"
25.11 Serving stereotypes: The eastern European identity post-Soviet Union
“Autumn ball” dir. Veiko Õunpuu
On one hand, this film serves the West's desire to define the new East, and by defining it, to emphasise the gap between the two. The wish to approach East as The Other, which should be examined as something exotic rather than something of its own. Thus, the cinematic perception of the East becomes a product that fills a specific niche, having its own location in the European film landscape and a clear function (see also Romania, the Balkans, etc.). On the other hand, by playing the Western game and meeting these expectations, the East quietly and imperceptibly acquires the colours and customs of the West, quietly working towards assimilation. A relationship of interdependence between West and East that tries to make the two pull and push at the same time.
"Autumn Ball" was Estonia's first and, in many ways, the only successful attempt to enter this market segment of "Eastern Europeanism" internationally. As a result, one of the best films in Estonian film history was born.
16.12 From Union to Union: early eurosceptics in Estonian animation“Hotel E” dir. Priit Pärn + “Cabbage Head” and “Cabbage Head 2 or back to Europe” dir. Riho Unt
After the Soviet Union collapsed, Estonia tried to distance itself from the Russian sphere of influence and to associate itself as soon as possible with the network of Western European organisations and thus become part of Europe in practice. The application to join the European Union was created already in 1995, while Estonia became a member of the European Union only in 2004. In the same year, Estonia also became a full member of NATO.
However, the intervening ten-year transition period was marked by uncertainty and ignorance about the future. Although the official policy of the country was clearly aimed at the West, in the field of film, animation, interesting films came to be made, which took a rather sceptical or at least more ironic position.
Priit Pärna's "Hotel E" was completed already in 1992, one year after regaining independence, and is a good example of anarchism, because there was something unthinkable about Euroscepticism at that time. The film once again contrasts East and West, caricaturing both and not actually offering any specific solutions, which is what Estonian tragedy is all about, from a geographical point of view. The only choice is to pick a side.
This is followed by the hugely popular 1993 film "Cabbage Head" – an adaptation of two works by Oskar Luts – and the 1997 sequel film Kapsapea 2. Both are pure prank comedies, influenced by the foreign policy of that time.