27 November, 2008

Introducing The Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

When I recently told family and friends that I was soon to attend a film festival in Tallinn, Estonia, a queer look came over their faces. This was really testing their geographic skills. Did they known that Estonia was its own kingdom for centuries before being part of the Russian empire. The photos I've seen show a civilization that has been around since the 14th century, with a prosperous port on the Baltic Sea. I don't arrive until Monday but I can tell it will be quite an experience, a real revisiting of early European history. On top of that, I had programmed 15 US and Canadian films for the Festival, introducing myself while also introducing them to this somewhat exotic part of the old Europe.

More impressions and photos later, but first here's today's lesson: the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival is celebrating its 12th anniversary starting this Friday. In a little over a decade, the Festival has become the most forward-thinking in Eastern Europe, with a healthy curiosity about films from all over the world. However, to put a special spotlight on emerging filmmaker talents from the region, the Festival sponsors a special competition section.

Along with programs devoted to animation, fashion and films for children and young adults, the Festival explores new trends in filmmaking via its International Panorama section. The section that I programmed, 15 films from the US and Canada, is entitled CRAZY COOL: North American Independents. It is a survey of some of the more celebrated and admired films of the past year, mixing features with documentaries. More on the section in a later article.

To top it all off, the Festival hosts The Baltic Event, a co-production and networking forum where producers, programmers and talent from the region and Eastern Europe have a chance to meet their contemporaries in Western Europe and beyond. I'm very curious to see how this meet-and-greet is organized and what new developments I can hear about coming from the Baltic region.

It will be stimulating and informative, and I will keep my readers informed. Please come back to this blog site during the next 10 days, while we cover one of the intriguing newcomers to the world stage: the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. And by the way, "black nights" refers to the more than 16 hours of dark in these short winter days in Tallinn. Darkness in Tallinn, both outdoors and inside the theaters......festival film noir.

To find out more information, check out the film festival's website:

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