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European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 Arts of Survival Documentaries announces eight filmmakers to capture life in Southern Estonia

Arts of Survival Documentaries has selected eight filmmakers to capture Southern Estonia on the topic of “Arts of Survival”, the artistic concept of European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024. The filmmakers are Viesturs Kairišs (Latvia), Andrey Paounov (Bulgaria), Carl Olsson (Sweden), Ülo Pikkov (Estonia), Jaan Tootsen (Estonia), Eva Kübara (Estonia), Maria Aua (Estonia) and Andris Gauja (Latvia). The collection of films will be released to the audiences in the spring of 2024.

Kollaaž filmitegijatest.
09. Mar Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu

Photos: Mana Kaasik, Argo Ingver ja Karoliina Kreintaal.

The aim of the contest was to find renowned authors who would present Tartu and Southern Estonia in the most artistically exciting ways. The short films are a work of their own but at the same time would form a single cultural code – the collection of short documentaries “Arts of Survival”. In total, 27 ideas from Estonia and 16 ideas from international filmmakers were submitted to the contest.

“The contest and competition was internationally substantial. The documentaries covered various topics related to Tartu and Southern Estonia, which is why the final selection is diverse,” said Tartu 2024 Creative Director Kati Torp. “We have selected the projects with the most intriguing themes which will certainly speak about the Arts of Survival long after the European Capital of Culture,” said Torp.

Selected filmmakers included the award-winning Latvian film and theater director Viesturs Kairišs (Nafta Film OÜ, producers Esko Rips, Olga Hartšuk; Ego Media, producer Guntis Trekteris), who takes a look at a sing lonely island Piirissaar, an Estonian island located in Lake Peipus on the very border of Estonia and Russia. The film by Bulgarian director Andrey Paounov (OÜ Vesilind, producer Riho Västrik; Chicken Milk, producer Elitza Katzarska) is about the self-assembled machines of local fishermen at lake Peipus, karakats. The film of animator Ülo Pikkov’s family is shared (Silmviburlane OÜ, producer Ülo Pikkov) through the fate of his Pechory great-grandmother, and Jaan Tootsen (OÜ Aadam ja Pojad, producer Anneli Ahven) brings to life the memories and stories of his childhood in Southern Estonia.

The story by Eva Kübara (Mcqueen OÜ, producer Alvar Reinumägi) centers on the German Hilda Ha, who lives an off-grid life in Võru County with her young child, in the forest, without electricity and running water. The short film by Maria Aua (OÜ Vesilind, producer Riho Västrik) focuses on Tartu and its enrichingly boring non-places, i.e. strange wastelands, empty squares and rundown buildings. The main characters of the film by the Swedish-Danish director Carl Olsson (Allfilm OÜ, producer Ivo Felt) are the residents of an apartment building in Annelinn, and the diversity of their identities and dreams is explored through the building’s architecture. The film by Latvian filmmaker Andris Gauja (Film Tower OÜ, producer Margus Õunapuu) is about astronomers with their telescopes and slime mold explorers with their microscopes finding the beauty of curiosity.

Estonian Film Institute film commissioner Filipp Kruusvall commented: “Tartu 2024 Arts of Survival Documentaries is a remarkable initiative for the Estonian film industry. Renowned Estonian and international directors will produce eight exciting and unique short documentaries in 2023 and 2024. Collaboration with the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 has provided decent funding for film production and attracted famous international documentary filmmakers to Southern Estonia. Now, when the topic of finding survival strategies is important and intriguing – we can safely say that the selected films are something to look forward to in 2024.”

Arts of Survival Documentaries are in the main programme of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024. NGO Tartu Filmiselts is the executive organization for the project. The production of short films is financed by Tartu 2024 Foundation, the Estonian Film Institute and Creative Europe. The selection was made by the jury consisting of Tartu 2024 creative director Kati Torp, Estonian Film Institute film commissioner Filipp Kruusvall, directors Moonika Siimets and Kaur Kokk, cinematographer Erik Põllumaa and artistic director of Tartu 2024 Survival Arts Documentaries Kaarel Kuurmaa.

Selected films: