cineuropa.org

28 November, 2009

All Eyes Turn To Tallinn


by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

In the year-round film festival circuit, a roundelay of more than 2000 individual film events held in almost every corner of the globe, one moves as if part of a gypsy caravan, lingering in one place before taking up stakes for the next location. For me, it is a lateral move across Europe from Amsterdam, where I have been attending the IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and the host of the 13th annual POFF, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.

Tallinn, an economic boom town before the current economic collapse, is a city on the verge, with a mix of a charming old town center and some of Europe's most radical modern buildings. What you feel in Tallinn is a reemergence of the city's traditional openness to outside cultures, after a long period of (forced) insurality under the Soviet Union. As befits a port city, the winds from other countries are making their way to Estonia this week, by way of filmed images projected on a white screen.

PÖFF's main program comprises 220 feature films from 74 countries. The international competition programme EurAsia, held for the sixth year, features 20 films from Europe and Asia. The Tridens Baltic Feature Film Competition, held for the second time, presents 9 feature films from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This year PÖFF also introduces the North American Independent Film Competition, comprising 10 films from the United States and Canada , many of which are European premieres.

All competition programmes are judged by international juries. Baltic films are judged by representatives from the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), and there are also juries from the International Federation of Film Clubs (FICC) and the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC).

PÖFF's programme includes 17 films that have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film by their respective countries. 13 films featured in the program have been nominated for European Film Academy (EFA) awards, including A Prophet (directed by Jacques Audiard, France) and The White Ribbon (directed by Michael Haneke, Austria). EFA Winners will be announced in Berlin on 12 December, but next year the European Film Awards will be presented in Tallinn, a first for Eastern Europe.

PÖFF is presenting a host of world and European premieres. Having their first exposure at the Festivala are "Wedding in Bessarabia", a Romanian/Moldavian co-production competing in the EurAsia competition program, and the Finnish documentary "I Draw Therefore I Am". Half of the films in the new North American Independents Competition are European premieres, including "Don’t Let Me Drown", "The Golden Age of Rock'n'Roll", "Peter and Vandy", "Sorry, Thanks" and "(Untitled)".
This year, special Festival focuses include a survey of Portugese cinema and screen versions of the novels of celebrated author Knut Hamsun. In addition to the competition sections, the Festival features focuses on fashion, documentary films, midnight cult movies and films that deal with human rights issues. A new section debuting this year is "Vitamin Boost", a recommended program composed by the Festival program team.

Aside from screening premieres, special events and chic after-parties, POFF also hosts a parallel industry conference titled The Baltic Event. Various seminars and workshops will be presented as well as a first-ever film market, the Black Market Industry Screenings, introducing the latest productions from Northern, Eastern and Central European countries to the representatives of the film industry. Also, for the first time, a literary rights market named "Books Into Movies" will introduce works from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Finland, Norway, Georgia and the Ukraine.

For more information on the Festival, visit: www.poff.ee and return to this blog site, where we will present the excitement and talents of Tallinn.

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