CO-FINANCED BY: KUJAWSKO-POMORSKIE REGION, MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND NATIONAL HERITAGE FROM PROMOTION OF CULTURE FUND AND POLISH FILM INSTITUTE
BALTIC CINEMA REVIEW 2018
Tuesday October 16th, 2018
The Baltic Cinema Review was established in 2015 to promote the film industry of the Baltic Sea region among the international audience of the EnergaCAMERIMAGE festival. During the several editions of the Review we have established a broad network of contacts, through which we are able to reach the most interesting and visually stunning film productions from the region and other cooperating countries. Our intent is to select films that, in addition to their visual values, explore subjects important to the inhabitants of the region and take into account phenomena relevant to the cinematography of a given country. This year, the Review will include eleven films that represent Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Belarus, and Iceland. Among the topics covered in the films are both current issues that are central in the socio-political discourse of contemporary Europe, such as migration or terrorism, and themes from the often dramatic history of our region, as well as from its cultural heritage. We invite you to watch films from the Baltic Sea countries. Here is the line-up of this year’s Review:
Almost everyone read Pippi Longstocking, The Six Bullerby Children, and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter as a child. In fact, all of them have even been adapted for the screen. The biographical film Becoming Astrid depicts the author of these books, the famous Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren (1907–2002), born Ericsson, as a woman who was strong and independent even when she was just on the brink of adulthood. When she was 18, she caused a scandal by going against the social customs of the time. Her entire life, she walked with her head held high. Alba August, the Danish actress starring as Astrid, is the daughter of the famous director Billie August, who is maker of films such as Pelle the Conqueror and The Best Intentions.
Original title: Unga Astrid
Polish title: Młodość Astrid
Director: Pernille Fischer Christensen
Cinematographer: Erik Molberg Hansen
Produced by: Nordisk Film
Polish distributor: Aurora Films
Country and year: Sweden, Denmark, 2018
Breathing Into Marble
Based on a novel Breathing into Marble by Lithuanian writer Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė the film focuses on the challenges of a modern family. It is a romantic ballad with the plot of a thriller. Izabele and Liudas are a pair of intellectuals living in a homestead near a big city and raising their son, Gailius, who has epilepsy and is smarter than most children in his age. Izabele convinces her husband to adopt a six-year-old boy. Soon, it turns out that the boy is unable to fit in with this new family and is ready to do anything to get his mother’s attention. Director Giedrė Beinoriūtė speaks about relationships, invisible bonds connecting our lives and responsibility for each other.
Original title: Kvepavimas i marmura
Director: Giedre Beinoriute
Cinematographer: Audrius Kemežys
Produced by: Just a Moment, Mistrus Media, Aning Film
Country and year: Latvia, Croatia, Lithuania, 2018
Denmark. Esmail is a handsome Iranian man in his thirties who works in a moving company. He dreams of staying in Denmark permanently. That's why he needs to find girl from Denmark and make her fall in love with him. He's perfect at seducing women. He hopes that one night he’ll met the one who will become his wife. Something, however, will distort his plans. An intense, dense drama with romance and thriller elements. The debuting director Milad Alami confronts the Western world with the world of the Middle East, avoiding black-and-white distinctions. He also avoids exaggeration in the artistic layer of The Charmer. Both the main actor Ardalan Esmaili and director of photography Sophia Olsson follow his lead. Olsson's pictures very suggestively, but without unnecessary visual effects, present the mood of the dense nights.
Original title: Charmøren
Polish title: Uwodziciel
Director: Milad Alami
Cinematographer: Sophia Olsson
Produced by: Good Company Films
Country and year: Sweden, Denmark, 2017
1941. In Lithuania, the Nazi invaders are now the lords of life and death, even though the country was annexed one year earlier by the USSR. A Jewish boy, Maks, is sent to a concentration camp, but he manages to escape – having paid a high price for it. He hides in his family home, in which an Aryan Lithuanian family now lives. Maks sees the girl of his dreams in Layma, the teenage daughter of the new owners. This is just a part of the complicated story of Layma and Maks, which is set against a vast historical background and includes the post-war deportation of almost 30,000 Lithuanian families to Siberia that was carried out by the Soviet apparatus of repression. The film is an adaptation of a short story by Efraim Sevela, a Soviet writer and screenwriter of Jewish origin who spent many years as an expatriate in the United States and Israel.
Original title: Holodnoye tango
Director: Pavel Chukhray
Cinematographer: Igor S. Klebanov
Produced by: Studio SLON
Country and year: Russia, 2017
Eternal Road, The
The early 1930s. Jussi Ketola, a Finn, returns with his family from the United States, which is in the grip of the Great Depression, to Finland, where he is doing quite well. However, as a result of actions taken by right-wing extremists, who consider him a communist, he is forcibly sent to the USSR. He ends up in a kolkhoz, where he joins Americans, Canadians, but chiefly Finns. Kolkhozniki were supposed to help Józef Stalin in the construction of the Soviet paradise on earth. Jussi struggles to survive, dreaming of returning to Finland and his relatives. Based on true events and filmed with epic flourish, this film explores the experiences of the 10,000 emigrants who found out for themselves what Stalinist Russia looked like. The film has won six Jussi Awards (from the Finnish Film Foundation), including for best film, best director, best cinematography, and best set design.
Original title: Ikitie
Director: Antti-Jussi Annila
Cinematographer: Rauno Ronkainen
Produced by: MRP Matila Röhr Productions Oy
Country and year: Finland, 2017
A psychological thriller. Katrina and Francis are a middle-class married couple. They are two intelligent people with different dispositions. He seems to be level-headed, perhaps introverted. She is an extrovert who tends to get emotional. Their relationship is going through a crisis caused by their inability to have children, which will prove important in the unfolding of events. One night as they walk along a half-deserted street, the couple are the target of a brutal assault by a motorcyclist. Francis is unable to defend his wife, who is the main victim. Later, in an attempt to redeem himself in her eyes, he attempts to mete out justice to the motorcyclist himself. Francis’s emotional stability is shaken and a spiral of violence – fuelled also by his jealousy of Katrina – gains momentum.
Original title: Pirmdzimtais
Director: Aik Karapetian
Cinematographer: Jānis Eglītis
Produced by: Locomotive Productions
Country and year: Latvia, 2017
Little Comrade, The
Estonia, early 1950s, and Stalinism still keeps a tight grip on the country. The six-year-old Leelo’s mother, a school teacher, is one day taken to a labour camp. In her best attempts to heed her mother’s last words, instructing her to be good, Leelo seeks to be on her best behaviour in the complex Stalinist reality she has yet to fully understand. Through that, she hopes to soon see her mother again. An adaptation of the autobiographical novel by Leelo Tungal, an Estonian poet and writer born in 1947, and well-known author of stories and poems for children. Moonika Siimets’s film is filled with drama and tragedy, as it shows the fate of a child during terrible times. However, since these times are viewed from a child’s perspective, there is no shortage of warmth and humour.
Original title: Seltsimees laps
Director: Moonika Siimets
Cinematographer: Rein Kotov
Produced by: Amrion
Country and year: Estonia, 2018
Private Space: Do Not Enter
A teenage romantic comedy. The main character, Max Matveyev, is every inch a perfectionist. He even chose a profession that allows him to create perfect worlds, even though they’re only virtual – he is a video game programmer. Max’s meticulousness, which borders on absurdity, can be traced back to his childhood, when he was chastened for every little mistake by his strict mother. He pays for his perfectionism with loneliness. He doesn’t have a girlfriend or friends in general, because he’s not easy to put up with. One day, Max releases a game with a flaw. Since it’s a real catastrophe for him, he decides to end his life. At the place in which he wants to commit suicide (perfectly planned, of course – together with the future funeral), he meets Masha, a girl with a broken heart and exactly the same intentions as he has.
Original title: В личное пространство вход воспрещен
Director: Alexandra Butor
Cinematographer: Andrey Voskresensky
Produced by: Cinematography Territory
Country and year: Belarus, 2018
U: July 22
Ten years after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, Norway had its own day of horror. On 22 July 2011, armed far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb near a government building in Oslo, killing 8 people, then opened fire on the youth of the Labour Party on Utoya island. Sixty-nine people died, many were wounded. Breivik gave himself up to the police. We can’t see the attacker in the film – his presence is marked by gunshots and dead bodies falling. The film consists mostly of one long, 72-minute shot – the length of the Utoya attack. The camera follows a young girl who came to the island with her little sister.
Original title: Utøya 22. juli
Polish title: Utoya, 22 lipca
Director: Erik Poppe
Cinematographer: Martin Otterbeck
Produced by: Paradox
Polish distributor: Aurora Films
Country and year: Norway, 2018
Atli and Erik are brothers from Iceland who are very different from each other. One is a small-time criminal who has just left prison. The other, a man of success, embodies the aspirations of every modern Icelander. These differences disappear when the brothers decide to work together to smuggle cocaine into their country with the help of young Polish girl, Sofia. The situation gets more complicated when the girl falls ill and a policewoman, Lena, defying protocol, starts an investigation. To complicate matters further, a rival gang enters the scene. This dark thriller questions the nature of our self-preservation instinct: how many lives are we able to sacrifice to save ourselves?
Original title: Vargur
Director: Börkur Sigþórsson
Cinematographer: Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson
Produced by: RVK Studios, Blueeyes Productions
Country and year: Iceland, 2018
In a Bulgarian province near the Greece border, workers from Germany are building a hydroelectric plant. A hostility grows between them and the local population that leads to conflict. When the German Meinhard – who could actually be considered the hero of a classic western, just in another time and place – tries to overcome the language barrier and cultural differences that separate him from the inhabitants of the Bulgarian village, not everybody will appreciate it, including some among his fellow construction colleagues. Perhaps, however, peace will be possible. Western is a film about the clash of cultures and mentalities. Created with modest financial means (but in beautiful locations) with amateur actors, the film has managed to achieve significant artistic success, winning a number of awards.
Director: Valeska Grisebach
Cinematographer: Bernhard Keller
Produced by: Komplizen Film GmbH
Country and year: Bulgaria, Austria, Germany, 2017