Impressions April 02, 2012
I am not a film critic. Neither am I an educated anthropologist. Having said that, I will confess that after Worldfilm I experienced a major illumination. "So, THAT is what I have been doing all those years! I've been an anthropologist!" It's just that the word never occurred to me. At one point, traveling in the far-remote villages in the West Ukrainian Carpathians, I caught myself thinking: "Damn! I wish I had a film crew with me. This is fantastic stuff!" I didn't even have a film camera, so all the details are inside my notebook. And my memory, of course.
Don't expect any objectivity from these lines. Everything I have to say is impressions filtered through a peculiar personal prism of this writer's perception. Hopefully, his own experiences are unique enough to provide an interesting, challenging point of view. After all, isn't it what the films we love are all about? Who cares to watch a film which tells you everything you know from your own point of view? Answer: probably no one.
I have singled out the following films not on the basis of how "good" they are, but based on to what extent they provoked me into dialogue and polemic with them. Some of these films I did "like", others I maybe hated. There have been a few that I had mixed feelings about. But all of them are worth talking about.
I will not judge the technical virtues or, on contrary, shortcomings of any film below. What matters to me the most is a challenging perspective, or a film's ability to provoke some hardcore reflection, resurrect some meaningful memories, create a discussion. Does it grab me by the balls? The throat? Can it cause a fistfight, start a fire, raise some hell? Even if it failed to do so (we are so civilized, the intellectuals), maybe I'll help it out. With the following passages.
So, let's roll:
Fascinating from many points of view. For putting me in touch with a form of folklore I had no prior knowledge of. For introducing the spectator to the world of Veljo Tormis. Bravo! However, what have we here? We have a film about Estonian folklore by a German director, residing in Switzerland. I think it's no coincidence that such a happy-go-lucky, obsessively loving, endearing, ravishing film about another country's folklore tradition came from a German. What is folklore? It is basically a cultural form of honoring one's labor. Western Europe has long been living in the times when private labor has been alienated, replaced with work out of necessity - having a job. Moreover, the Nazis were very clever to appropriate all things folklore and distort them to symbolize and associate with National Socialism. The next three generations of Germans, above all - intellectuals - have long been raised with disgust towards their own roots. Of course! When they hear Bavarian beer songs they think Hitler's little bar-room rebellion in Munich, 1923!
How can I claim this? A little story. In 2006, me and 3 other people from Ukraine went on a lengthy German/Croatian tour with our project Ukr.tele.kom. The first gigs were at FUSION festival... In the line-up we had a guy doing a nice impersonation of Tuvan khoomei throat singing, a virtuoso jazz double-bassist, a keyboardist/electronic musician, and yours truly, with mouth-harps, DIY bamboo zen flutes and poetry recitation. For artistic reasons, kind of tongue-in-cheek, we wore Ukrainian national shirts - well, they look nice. I was sporting a considerable beard. Croatian junior basketball team members at a small Porec seaport, waiting for a ferry, would call me Czar. I looked like King David. In a Ukrainian shirt. It was a good laugh. The music we played had all been improvised. I called it imaginary folk. Which probably keeps the tradition more alive than repetition of the old stuff. But that's up for debate.
The tour was organized by some Hamburg people who had known us from before. One of them was a well-to-do computer program: on the wall of his room there was a framed diploma from Apple Macintosh - he had designed all their interfaces and was awarded for the great job. Another guy was a gallery owner and an important cultural intermediary. The point: they were smart, educated, and hip. They took us around as roadies in an old but comfy VW Joker van, apparently having a good time with us on tour. What happened took place on Amrum Island, up North in the Baltic Sea. It was night time. The sound system had been on full blast. We climbed up on the roof of one the three famous shacks they have there - all built by this genius local from stuff he found in the sea. Quite a sight! One of the shacks had been purchased by MoMA in NYC and would be carefully transferred there by summer's end.
There were some recreational drugs to make colors brighter. A starry night. A distant sound of music from the main stage. Then, Christopher suddenly said:
"Listen Sergei. I want to take the opportunity to thank you for the beautiful Ukrainian songs you sing on this tour. They really mean a lot to us. You know, we, Germans, hate our folklore. It is just ugly. It reminds us of ourfathers - you know, mine had been in Hitler-Jugend. We can never forgive ourselves for what our ancestors had done."
Like they say, my jaw dropped to the floor. For a while I tried to convince them that they should not be conditioned by other people's past: what the hell? I mean, Russians had Stalin, French had Napoleon. Some are even proud - it's just history. If you don't like it, don't identify. What is this entire Christian-Judaic guilt syndrome? Don't you understand it's how they manipulate you into being obedient?
They'd have none of that. It was pointless. The Germans are a very determined bunch. Once they'd made up their minds about something, there is no stopping them. However, I did still respect them for the things they'd done and for who they were, for better or worse. So I owed them a song. I suddenly realized that I don't remember any one entire Ukrainian or Russian folk song from start to finish. Embarrassing moment!
I dug deep into my memory and gave them something by Grebenshikov, a song from an album deeply influenced by Russian folklore. Well, if you think about it, this is the folklore of today, one foot in the tradition, one in the present. I sang what must have been a dozen verses. By the time I finished they all had tears in their eyes! I could not believe it! It touched them so deeply! To think: Russian song, sang a cappella by a Gypsy Jew, speaking to the hearts of these people. They even had no idea what it was about (it was about a wanderer, a traveling soul), but on some deep level it made complete sense to them - their own sense. And this is the only way folklore can survive - if it talks about things that are still part of your world, that you can relate to.
So, back to Regilaul. Now you see it comes as no surprise that it was created by a German director. But what of the Estonians in the film? A few observations. All great people, strictly no joke business. I understand Regilaul as music of the oppressed. It's like the blues, or roots reggae, or hip-hop - basically, through this song form the underdog is unleashing its spirit, having no higher authority to appeal to other than god the almighty. It is THAT hopeless. These are redemption songs, the songs of freedom, all they were ever likely to have. So, it makes sense that some punk youths of the 80's rediscovered Regi songs and made them their own during the Soviet stagnation era when anything folklore or national would be perceived by the censorship as a form of local Nazi revival or at least cultural insurgence. But what is this form of music to them today? Now that they are all happy, well-paid, employed, not oppressed? All these great singers performing with orchestras and choirs, having good homes? What does it mean to them today? This is an open question. I hope someone will answer this.
As I understand, there is also significant part of regilaul which has to do with torch songs, or songs of lost unrequited love, death of loved one, loss, mourning, or even a murder ballad. Nothing personal, but out of all characters portrayed in the film I saw nobody to even a slight degree resembling at the very least a Nick Cave or a Michael Gira, or an Edith Piaf. I saw a descendent of an important master singer in a nice old-fashioned wooden home, sporting some nice folk costumes and fell boots. I saw a happy married couple relocated to nature, very sweet, loving, having children, taking care of them. I have no idea how they can relate to this layer of meaning in the songs they perform. I really hope they do not IDENTIFY with what they sing, really hope for them as individuals that they don't. Otherwise we are dealing with case of assumed identity, which is a slightly schizophrenic case. But if it's not, and something tells me it isn't, then it's even worse to a certain extent. It's just showmanship. Maybe self-deceit, in a very innocent form. Or something that supports the image. A bit indulgence, so sweet.
I come from a country whose population had also been oppressed during and before the Soviet era. Ukrainians are a bit like Estonians. They also eagerly search for new identity. And it is also often times served to them on a plate in the form of national shirts and folklore revival. The point is that the neo-right wing people, as Mike Hentz points out, are very successful in creation of identity ICONS. Something all people can so easily understand: linen shirt, national design, a folk form, roots rhetoric, religious Christian discourse (should I add "pseudo-"?) - something very simple. Well, all I can say in this regard is: think about it - somewhere in the Gospel it says that one shouldn't make idols or try to anthropomorphize the God form. Remember the iconoclasts. They sensed something.
I have this colorful wool sweater from the UK, I bought it for peanuts at a fleamarket in St. Petersburg, 2010. The label says: "Tulchan". When I took to the dictionary to find out what "tulchan" meant, I found out something very interesting. In the medieval times in Scotland, a tulchan [pron.: tul-can] was a bishop in a rural community, who was bishop by title only - that is, he had no church education: he was simply appointed as authoritative figure in the village by a higher authority (I guess there hadn't been enough bishops, or none eager to go to remote places). In fact, all his income would be privatized by this higher standing figure. The word itself earlier in history was used in the sense of: when there was a lamb, whose mother had died and there was nobody to feed it, the farmers would take the so-called "tulchan skin", or a skin of a dead lamb, and put it on the deserted lamb so that a feeding yew (mother) would take it for one of his own and feed it. In folklore, a "tulchan" since then has also taken on a new meaning: somebody who wears a skin other than his own, a pretender - not necessarily an imposter, but somebody in the wrong shoes, in a destiny other than his own.
There is particular scene illustrating this point, in the film "Shaman's revenge". Remember this moment when Dima, a Chivash "shaman" who had an "illumination" in Norwegian mountains, comes to the office of the local mayor with the main protagonist - the High shaman of Tuva republic - incidentally, that same man who is on the cover of the festival's catalogue? This poor fella, who cannot really put two words together, is sitting there in one shot, all dressed in the shaman "drag", looking really lost. His eyes are very sad. Right next to him sits a huge Tuvan man (who is also, at least partly, a pretender, but at least it is natural for him, he is "on his own territory"). The two create such a striking sense of clash, it's unbelievable. They are grotesque! But none of them is aware how silly it is: to put these two men together. They think it's perfectly normal. They don't even think about it. They think of other things. They are not even there, only in body, but not in mind. Dima's eyes are really pathetic. His soul is lost. And he is a tulchan par excellence.
Are the contemporary regilaul performers portrayed in the eponymous film also tulchans? To what degree? Am I? Are you? Think about it.
THE NATIVE THING
Another striking film on assumed identity, what it all boils down to, is INDIANS LIKE US, by Sylvie Jacquemin.
It's very interesting to think about the fact that for simple, nice people in Europe today there is such a sense of futility that they have to identify with Native Americans. I mean, out of all opportunities presented by the society, all these hot new roles you can play, there is nothing these people can recognize as "their own". This is in itself a verdict on the civilization we have.
Growing up in the USSR we had the image of an Indian as a politically-correct hero model. The official cinema of the regime would portray them as revolutionary class, fighting an unequal and martyr-like struggle against the top dogs, the oppressor, the capitalist symbolized by the figure of a cowboy. Indians were "good". Cowboys were "bad". I had a lot of Indian toy soldiers as a kid. All kids would make obligatory bows and arrows and would play Indians after school in the park. The next popular wave was Robin Hood - another revolutionary hero who waged war on the bad guys, the Sheriff's men, also stand-ins for the enemy figure, the capitalist. Robin would redistribute - he would take from the rich and give to the poor. He always fought against injustice. It was cool to be Robin Hood or his merry men. All the popular kids would automatically appoint themselves as his people. The most popular one would be Robin himself. The nastiest would be the Sheriff. I had no particular sense of the self, I was like a ghost. I was there in eyesight only, but it always felt like they were in another world altogether, and I was just watching them on some reality TV show, not being there. Iwould usually even miss who I was supposed to be and deliberately go get lost in the bushes and trees of our huge neighborhood Gorky park, just wandering around on my own, my bow and arrows with me - just observing, watching, thinking my own childlike thoughts, being cautious not to stumble on anybody from either side. I usually did a pretty good job. I never got spotted. By the time I came back to our yard they'd be long done with their game. I would lie that I got lost in the park and it took me a long time to find my way. I was never really accepted. I had better time playing with girls anyway. They were much more mysterious. The guys were all as simple as a 5 cent coin. I had them all figured out. They didn't interest me in the slightest. Maybe because I was one as well?
At 17 I became a volunteer for a local National Public Radio station in Denver, Colorado, KUVO 89.3 fm. The station had been located in what was Denver's equivalent of the Bronx - the Five Points area, populated almost entirely by blacks and Chicanos. 70% of what the station played was jazz, but we also had blues, Cancion Mexicana, and yes - the Native voices show about Native Americans and their culture. I must admit that I had been an arrogant kid, almost entirely into some hardcore free jazz and other forms of experimentation. Nothing folklore interested me, it was too boring. I have no memory of catching a single episode of Native Voices. However, I do very vividly remember the man who produced it - he was the director of the station, his name was Frank Amadeo White. He was partly Chicano, partly Native. Cannot remember in which tribe he belonged to; might have been the Cherokee, but does it really matter? He was a short man with a boy's face in spite of being slightly over 60 years of age. He always had this huge smile on his face. He was very friendly, and his friendliness was not the typical Yankee fake Dale Carnegie "smile all the time" type of friendliness. Far from that: he seemed very genuine, at least to my own very harsh and sharply tuned in-built bullshit detector. Sadly, I don’t remember any of our conversations, but he always encouraged me, had good advice, some nice words to say, which helped me go on and eventually become a Disk Jockey with my own program (I started as a studio guy doing technical things, like public service announcements and voice-overs). Once he offered to take me to a reservation not too far from Denver. I liked the idea but somehow it never happened. I cannot remember why. Oh, how I wish it did happen! To an extent that some years later I fictionalized the visit in a form of a short story. It was probably the only story I ever made up. It was very Castaneda-like - in it I was initiated into some peyote ceremony and bullshit like that. The story must have been pure crap. Later on I decided to destroy it. I hope no one has any copies left.
I heard that Frank passed away in the early 2000's. May the Great Spirit bless his soul. He will be remembered by many.
Last thing that needs to be mentioned in connection to Indians is what I consider the best rock record of the past decade. It is "Anonymous" by Tomahawk, Mike Patton's great band with Duane from Jesus Lizard on guitar and the drummer from Helmet. It is based entirely on rites of passage songs, tribal dances and war chants of the American Indians. This record is immortal. If you haven't heard it, please do yourselves a favor and check it out. If you don't love it you must be already dead.
LOST DOWN MEMORY LANE
His day job was at a local steel factory. He is deaf on one ear from having stood next to his noisy welding machine for decades. He was a fantastic chess player - taught himself how to play. At the same time, I have never seen anyone at any age in better shape than him: big respect to him for never shoving sports down my throat, just simply being around and doing them all the time. It was really impressive to see a guy over 60 with a body of a 25 year old (or better). Last time I saw him, in 2008, he could still do more push-ups, pull-ups or bench-presses than both my dad and me combined (we are in comparatively good shape ourselves). That's something!
Well, until recently things have been fine. He is now 83. My father wrote me that he has beginning stages of Alzheimer's. He is still in good shape, he doesn’t take any medicine, no one remembers the last time he has been ill or anything. However, his memory deserts him. He will read a book, finish it, then start over again because he would forget that he'd already read it. Sometimes he has problems finding his way back home from a walk - it is getting that bad. I am horrified at reading these recent family news updates from my dad.
My grandfather has lived in Germany since 1993 when my dad's part of the family emigrated there (my mom's new family, me included, went to the USA a year prior). Grandpa now resides in Dortmund. He is a contemporary artist, but he doesn't know this, because he is not aware there is such a thing. He probably always identified himself as a working man. In the neighborhood of Peresyp, a lush and colorful historic part of Odessa, immortalized by Babel's writings and Leonid Utyosov songs, he had a small barn in the backyard, where he maniacally and meticulously stored all kinds of junk thrown away by other people. This included thrown-out clocks, discarded technical equipment, calculators, springs, assorted pieces of metal, anything that might be disassembled, reassembled, put back together in another fashion, or simply fixed. Everybody in the neighborhood knew that in case something broke down Izzy (short for Isaac) could always fix it. For nothing, or next to nothing - I am telling you he was an artist, not a businessman.
His best friend is his youngest grandson - my uncle's little son. When I saw them together they were in perfect tune with each other - real buddies - a 5 year old and an 80 year old (at the time). That's the way it's always been, always been meant to be. Families are like that. The old grow old, the newborns are newly born, they get taken care of by the old. The rest are at work, and so the cycle goes on. Or at least it used. Then "civilization" fucked it all up. It has fractured the old order of things. Old age is scary in the society that demands you to be always efficient, always up to date, look young, be "positive", know all the contemporary trends, be in good shape - it costs too much not to, or at least is not "in".
For this reason society gets rid of its old by isolating them in pension homes or retirement homes as they are known in USA, where the whole thing began, I suppose. The Yankees are always in the vanguard of what Nietzsche calls the ressentiment.
I have been inside one of those. My grandmother Mariam used to live (still does) in one in Denver,Colorado. It was the late 90s. Actually, it was not even a retirement home per se, certainly not the kind which we see in the Klara Van Es movie, but it was bad enough. When old people are in company of one another they have no instantly identifiable stimulus to go on. Why bother? Their children and grandkids rarely visit - if ever - there are more important things. A phone call here and there, that's about it. There is no sadder place than those homes, believe me - and I've seen a lot, from homeless shelters to jail to mental asylums, I've been there. There is no sadder place. Anguish is the invisible but almost material presence. You can reach out and touch it.
It was with these thoughts that I watched Lost Down Memory Lane. To me, this was one of the strongest films of the entire festival. I was almost in tears at a few points of the picture. Were you? Come on, admit it. Maybe I am overly sentimental, I have no idea. One thing: I never want to be in such shape. Better to die a violent death than a vegetable existence like this. I hope somebody murders me after I'd fulfilled everything I was put on this Earth to do. Second thing: how fascistic the so called "humane", neo-liberal system that allows these things to happen. Look into the eyes of the heroines: despair, pain, suffering is seen beyond these wrinkles, inside these paled eyes. You can read exactly what they are thinking: they are fully aware of the trap they're in. And they are struggling for a reason to go on. Are they finding it? No. They have been removed to a curb of life, the low side of the road of life. Nobody wants them. Nobody needs them. The last straw to cling to: the fact that there is still a worse place to go, the shelter for those whose condition is even worse then theirs. They are in hell, but they convince themselves they are still in purgatory - hell being the B. home.
The film is tragedy, pure and simple. The way it ought to be. Especially there is a lesson to learn from one of the heroines, a former beauty. Remember how glimpses of a flirt she was come through in a scene where she has her hair curled and done, and also in the one where she does a mischievous dance? We see a picture of her with her late husband when she was young and great-looking. You, beauties, the ones that identify themselves as such, and only such, please think thrice. I have had girlfriends like this. They just don't want to know and get pissed when you attempt to address this. Ignorance is bliss. But Alzheimer's, the retirement homes, the mental institutions - aren't.
I just wish the director hadn't gotten scared of what she portrayed - which was clearly the case, I am sorry. You can clearly sense it, how she downplays the most tragic moments, the most horrid truths captured by the camera with the melodramatic music of the jazz pianist who wrote the score. Oh, how I wish the film hadn't been interrupted by that pedestrian, toothless, ECM-type of modern jazz. Oh what a masterpiece it would have been. I guess that's just wishful thinking. The film is scary enough as it is. Conclusion: whatever you do, don't end up this way. Rebel, bite, claw, get killed, overdose, suicide, euthanasia - but not this. I beg you.
What is hatred if not love with a negative sign? My parents used to really love each other. They had dated each other for 8 years before I was born. It took them another 8 to split. I was 9 when my parents got divorced. It must have been around 1986 - right on the heels of Perestroika. It wasn't a happy procedure. My father was stupid enough to get caught in the bed of my mother's best friend - shit happens...
USSR used to have fairly strict procedure about fathers' rights. Custody would usually be awarded to the mother. My dad hadn't even attempted to fight, it was vain. I guess, mom was really affected by his infidelity - she didn't want me anywhere near him. I have always been a rebellious and stubborn kid. When you tried to force me into something, you would usually get a reciprocal result. The only thing my mother accomplished by trying to separate me from dad was that I slowly started hating her. The more I hated her the better I liked my father. Ironically, we never spent much time together prior to the divorce. If anything, the divorce was better for our relationship. We became real buddies. My dad turned out to be a pretty cool guy. It was much more interesting to spend time with him than my mother. He turned me on to good music, all this rock stuff, some prog, some jazz, and the foreign movies. Mum was really boring - seemed like all she ever cared about was if I ate (I hated eating), did my lessons (I hated school) and was back home on time (same thing).
I remember how she would accuse him of saying bad things about her or trying to alienate me against her - it was pure paranoia. He had in fact never uttered a bad word against her.But she truly believed he had. There was no talking to her. She wouldn't believea single word. That was really pitiful, pathetic. Well, "women are wicked when they're unwanted, streets are uneven when you're down..."
I recall this one particularly cinematic scene when my dad showed up beneath our 2nd floor window waiting for me to come out so we can go somewhere. My mum went into one of her fits and locked the door so I couldn't exit - she must have particularly mad at him about something. It was summer. I stood by the open window and he said: "Jump! I'll catch you. It's not that high!" I was really scared, but at the same time I realized that what was happening was not fair. Everything inside me resisted to this situation of being a hostage, a prisoner, and I hated it passionately. I would not have it. So, in spite of my inborn fear of heights, I closed my eyes in jumped out. He caught me and we ran away. I don't remember what we did the rest of the day... But it was a great one!
One thing you have to realize about Isri Halpern's film, FATHERS RIGHTS, is that is not about sympathizing with men against women. It's not that primitive. To me one of the reasons (there are more) this film really works is that it shows how the flaws of the system disintegrate the weak human nature. Whenever the system permits a person to abuse it, it will corrupt them: that simple. When there are conditions to manifest everything evil that is part of human soul, lo and behold, people will use it. The film clearly shows this.
Another reason the film is great is because when you draw the bottom line it is about a conflict between the powerful majority, whose only strength is numbers and the order of the day, and a handful of passionate and determined minority, who have everything going against them - the law, the system, etc - but they are religiously convinced that what they are doing is the only way. They are heroic. A rare quality in the world today. I am with them and their likes. These people make the world go 'round.
THE LEFT EYE
Paolo Barberi is a Diego Maradona lookalike. He is a director from Italy. We were walking along the rainy central street in Tartu when he had some nice words to say about my flute playing. I replied that in fact I a perpetual beginner, that I'd studied in musical school for two years, but luckily since then I forgot all about notes and have no plans of recalling. I wish to know nothing about musical rules and will continue to go by feeling only, a kind of a Sufi approach of forgetting, unlearning, starting each time with a clean slate to reinvent yourself each time you pick up the instrument. Let the instrument play you, not the other way around. Because in the end the only thing you can do with music is manifest and testify who you are and what you have been up to now.
I was a bit, to say the least, surprised by Paolo's comment: "Well, to me that's very Estonian".
That left me silent for some moments, as I tried to digest what he had just told me, still wheeling my bike along in the rain. I decided to ask him what he'd meant. "I am not Estonian, you know? I have only been here a few weeks". He said that he understood. "But would you be so kind as to elaborate?" I will not put his answer in quotes, but more or less he had the following to say. As far as he could gather, Estonian people to him have this way of relying on knowledge much less than others he knew. They trust intuition and feelings more than knowledge but they also have a way of balancing these extremes. And that to him was the Estonian aspect of my playing.
Now that I think about it, I do pay attention to one strange detail. I have met some people here (and I do not meet that many, since I am virtually a recluse in the village of Mooste) whose one eye didn't quite match the other. Actually, mostly it has been the left one. It is tilted slightly to the most left corner of the eye, not looking straight ahead while the other is doing just that. After some time, I came to the conclusion that it must have some connection to the intuitive grasp of the world, something having to do with a particular built of the left hemisphere - as we know, one hemisphere is responsible for precise knowledge, and the other - for creativity.
Estonians I have met have deep interest in folklore, and their folklore tradition seems to be much more psychedelic than that of many European nations. I have already made comparisons between Ukrainians and Estonians and I will take this one step further in claiming that their folklores are also very similar. Russian folklore hasn't preserved this very infernal, subterranean, shamanistic aspect, but the Ukrainian has. And so has Estonian folklore. I think it comes as no surprise to me that it was precisely the Estonian film makers who documented a good deal of shamanistic rituals and folklore of the Far East in the Soviet Union (referring to the ESTONIAN FILM 100 retrospective and some Lennart Meri films shown). There definitely has to be a connection!
This is a very poetic film, whose strengths and virtues are too obvious to list (the protagonists' charm, the music, the beautiful camera work, etc.) The one question I would like to ask the filmmakers is this: how do you perceive the activity of the evangelists who are sponsoring the Soup Kitchen? Judging by the post-script quotation from Mother Theresa, I get the feeling that you seem to support them, and your sympathies lie with them. I have a bit of a problem with that. Religion is so delicate a matter that it could really be considered the crossing of a line to prey on these lost souls, which the people who visit it definitely are. The people in need, the people whose lives are ruined - easy victims. There are particular frames I am referring to, where a woman is portrayed crying, coming to grips with what the preachers laid down on her. Did it make her life easier? No. Is it going to improve anything? NO. Blessed be the ignorant for theirs is the kingdom. What the missionaries had done was take the ignorance away, remove the blessed one from the kingdom. But they will surely get good grades from the teacher for having "saved" the pour sheep gone stray. The one scene where they bring clothes to the homeless, resulting in an ugly fight - who gets the better clothes - is simply sickening. In the sense that what these God's slaves do is essentially they are robbing these people of the last dignity they have. They create the conditions, not unlike those discussed in FATHER'S RIGHTS bit, above, that corrupt and denigrate the people. A bear's favor? To say the very least! How can you speculate on the basic need of any human being to preach your beautiful religion - the need to be fed? Them fucking people disgust me.
I am very sceptical about these missionaries being finally judged by how many mouths they fed, according to Mother Theresa. If I were Peter, standing there at the heaven's gate, granting entrance to those chosen ones, I'd send the whole bunch straight to hell's ovens. Let them boil in soup. Without rights to appeal.
THE MEAT MARKET
Another food-related one.
There is a funny-named club right next to the Athena theatre, where most Maailmafilm pieces were screened, called The Meat Market. Do they know what this idiom means in the USA? (Places visited to find one-night stands only.)
They say that most vegetarians having stopped eating meat, begin eating carnivore's brains. Touché! A very precise observation. I tried vegetarianism and must say I prefer vegetables and fish, but I will pass no judgement on meat-eaters for whatever reason (I am aware of many argument points), nor will I refuse meat if it is nicely cooked, especially on real fire or a tandoori oven.
This is a necessary preface to my thoughts on FOR WOMEN ONLY: one of those films that isn't particularly interesting as a film in itself, redeemed only by discussion of some points that follow.
Hunting in Estonia is an expensive habit. Hunters claim that it is not about making money, far from it. It is not even about providing necessary daily ration - it is cheaper to buy meat from providers. When asked a question why they keep doing it in our time when preying on animals is no longer feasible and other food might be easily provided in different ways, they elude the answer in a peculiar form of self-deceit. They maintain that, first of all, by hunting they preserve "natural" (how do they know?) balance in the world, and secondly, in addition to hunting they also take care of the very animals they prey upon, feeding them and helping them make it through the cold winters.
Now, if they said that humans are the crown of existence and our breed survived only by putting the weaker animals into submission, including through murdering and devouring them, it would have been a straight-forward enough argument to put an end to this discussion. No further questions ask. At least that is sincere, and such point of view is brave and cynical enough to me to have a right to exist. In all frankness, I think that the above two arguments are very political, weasely kind of arguments. Come on, people, just admit to yourselves, have the guts to, that humans are about murder instinct, that you are thirsty for some blood, that you love the thrill of the chase, the dog packs, the firing of arms, and let's finish there. However, humans are so hypocritical - everybody wants to have their cake and eat it to. Double standard is the ruling order of the day here. They will never openly admit this, including to themselves. This is where the schizophrenia starts.
One last thing, regarding the "balance": according to a source close to MoKS, there was 5 thousand moose killed in the last year in Estonia. Talk about lots of extra moose. Maybe there was a moose overbreeding epidemic. Then again, I seriously doubt that.
Pass me those spare ribs, would ya?
At Mooste, March 30th 2012