World Film Festival 2017 March 20, 2017

Pille Runnel, festival director

Dear friends of documentary film,

We are glad to bring you the 14th edition of the World Film Festival, which runs from March 20th to March 25th, and takes place in the newly opened building of the Estonian National Museum.

Along with the new building, the museum has, in addition to traditional museum activities, also sufficient space for different cultural activities: festivals, concerts, theatre and film events. It is great that this building will be the new home of the World Film Festival. In addition to the multifunctional concert, conference and film hall, the ENM building also holds a smaller „World Film“ screening space which enables to organise smaller film events at different times of the year.

The ENM has been the centre of ethnographic filmmaking since the 1960s, when filmmaking was an exceptional practice in the museums of the USSR. In Estonia and, to a large extent, also in the Soviet Union, it was namely the ENM that carried out the pioneering work in ethnographic recording of culture on film tape. The first ethnographic film of the museum was demonstrated in 1964 at the 7th International Congress of Anthropologists and Ethnographers in Moscow. In connection with the development of visual documentation, a foundation was laid for the film and video archives of the museum. Academic filmmaking has been a part of academic research and collecting activities at the museum ever since, and a film and video studio is also currently part of the museum.

This explains why the World Film Festival continues to be an event where one of the srarting points of the documentary film program, which presents a variety of genres and approaches, is academic visual anthropology. Such anthropological film festivals are important sites of public debate, where artistic and scientific knowledge and approaches to interpreting the world meet.

This year the festival program contains more than 50 films. It includes films which have gained attention at international film festivals, whereas other films represent promising newcomers. This is why we have gathered a number of films under the title of „Emerging talents“, so as to bring together films which represent very different approaches, but which are all characterised by the curious eye of the filmmakers, who are still at the beginning of their career.

The most volumnious sub-programmes of this year’s edition deal with the world on the move and outstanding women and their „place“ in the world.

We all strive for a place to stay, a place to call home. But the world is on the move. The illusion of staying put has been shaken, causing fear and confusion in both those on who stay and those who are looking for a new place and a new life. The program „On the move“ portrayes the experience of being on the road, examining both forced and voluntary migration. The most radical approach here is perhaps demonstrated by the authors of „Those who jump“, as they gave the camera to the man on the move and stepped behind the scenes themself. The film, dealing with a politically and emotionally highly charged topic, achieves almost uncomfortable immediacy by this move. A film about the men, striving to cross the fence at the border between Morocco and the Spanisch enclave of Melilla, takes an autobiographical approach. In this way it crosses the usual distinction between the filmmakers and the subjects of a film , which is the usualapproach, setting the tone and limits of the space of interpretation.

There are many men in the world of the documentary film, both behind and in front of the camera. This time, the program team outlined a set of stories, where the protagonists are women with their strength, knowledge, and also skills to survive. We brought these stories together under one title, „The place of women“. It is clear that one´s gender is linked to one´s destiny also in the contemporary world. Sometimes women are able to trick their gender and live their life according to their personal principles and beliefs, but there are also many places and circumstances, where a girl´s face can mean adanger which threatens specifically her, and it would have been easier to be born as a boy.  

Wildscape is an empty and wild land area – a marginal space outside ordered and regulated spatial and sociocultural realities. These wild spaces have emerged withoutplanning: they are former industrial regions, urban wastelands varying in size from small plots to entire regions. These places are signs of big structural changes. The films screened at the World Film Festival turn their eye to the people living in these conditions, in a time that has stopped: two stories which can be contextualised in the history of the American working class in the legendary Harlan County; a film set in post-apocalyptic Fukushima five years after the disaster , and telling of its only inhabitant, a lonely man called Naoto Matsumura; a film on an elderly English manwho decides to step out from his grayish everyday life in order to repair a boat and navigate through the English waterways.

The program Finno-Ugric stories brings you two films made by Estonian filmmakers – one of them explores the traces of the earlier ethnographic field trips of the Estonian National Museum researchers to the Vepsian villages and their current inhabitants (a film by Indrek Jääts and Maido Selgmäe). The other, a film by Liivo Niglas called "The Land of love", won the award of best Estonian documentary in 2016 by the Estonian Cultural Endowment.

Stimulating film experiences can be also found in rest of the sub-programmes: Animals and humans, Body and soul, Fine Arts, At the perifery of Norwegian music, War reporter, Village life and Rites of passage.

The festival team and the organisers – The Estonian National Museum and the Worldfilm Society – would like to thank the supporters of the festival. This involves our funders and partners the Estonian Film Institute and Tartu City. We also would like to thank our strategic cooperation partners disain studio Fraktal and Elektriteater, and the festival volunteers.