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15th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2011 report by Emelie Sundberg, Sweden

FICC jury, Tallinn 2011
On November 18th I arrived to Tallinn, Estonia, to be a member of the FICC jury at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. I was met in the airport by the FICC jury hostess for the festival. After settling in at Nordic Hotel Forum, the official festival hotel, a lunch with some other jury members from other juries and a short sightseeing walk in Tallinn’s old town, it was time for the opening ceremony.

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (Pimedate Ööde Filmfestival, PÖFF) was founded in 1997 so this year was the 15th anniversary. The Film Festival was therefore extra long this year – 13 days, and the opening ceremony extra festive.
The opening ceremony was held in the old Russian cultural center. The founder of the festival and still its director, Mrs Tiina Lokk and the Estonian Minister of Culture, Mr Rein Lang opened the festival. Since Estonian cinema has its 100th anniversary in 2012, we were presented with fragments of the 10 best movies in the history of Estonian cinema. After that the opening film Either Way (Á annan veg, Iceland, 2011) was shown. Afterwards there was a short Q&A with the director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurđsson.
At the opening party afterwards in the hotel I met my fellow FICC jury members: Bijan Sen Sarma from India and Birgit Pajust from Estonia.
The next day, and the following 10 days, we were shown the programming films in two different cinema complexes close to the hotel.
The FICC jury saw the films in the EurAsian Programme (that is, the same films as the International Competition jury). All in all we saw 18 films from Europe and Asia:
A Simple Life (Tao jie), Ann Hui, China/Hong Kong, 2011
Adalbert’s Dream (Visul lui Adalbert), Gabriel Achim, Romania, 2011
Akkyz, Zhanabek Zhetiru, Kazakhstan, 2011
The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius, France, 2011
At the end of it all (Abosheshey), Aditi Roy, India ,2011
The Double Steps (Los pasos dobles), Isaki Lacuesta, Spain, 2011
Elena (Jelena), Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia, 2011
The Idiot (Idioot), Rainer Sarnet, Estonia, 2011
Kotoko, Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan, 2011
Land of Oblivion (La terre outragée), Michale Boganim, France/Germany/Poland/Ukraine, 2011
Late Life (Kechikkan hayot), Ayub Shaxobiddinov, Uzbekistan, 2011
Letters to Angel (Kirjad Inglile), Sulev Keedus, Estonia, 2011
Mourning, Morteza Farshbaf, Iran, 2011
Palawan Fate (Busong), Auraeus Solito, Philippines, 2011
Rose (Róza), Wojciech Smarzowski, Poland, 2011
Sons of Norway (Sřnner av Norge), Jens Lien, Norway, 2011
We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay, UK, 2011
Volcano (Eldfjall), Rúnar Rúnarsson, Iceland/Denmark, 2011

Since the programme schedule included 2-3 films per day, there was time to see other films from the regular festival programme as well. There was also time for taking long walks in the beautiful Old town. This year it was unusually warm for the season in Tallinn and no snow.
Every night there was some kind of reception which jury members were invited to. Some were held by different embassies and one was held by the city of Tallinn in the City Hall. In the official festival café Wabadus a jazz band was playing every night.
After watching all the films the jury sat down to dinner and we reached a verdict of which film we wanted to give the Don Quijote award.
The closing ceremony was held in Nokia Concert Hall on November 30th. The juries went in from back stage and after a walk over the stage we were seated at tables back stage. There were TV-screens showing the ceremony, but we had some trouble following it anyway. When it was our turn to give our prize we were presented by the host and came out on stage. Birgit Pajust held our speech.
We gave the Don Quijote Award to the Chinese/Hong Kong film A Simple Life (Tao jie) by Ann Hui, because “Underneath the simplicity lies a profound and universal story about love and relations told with great warmth and easiness“.
Unfortunately nobody from the film was there to collect the prize.
After the closing ceremony there was a reception held by the embassies of the Nordic countries. It was time to say goodbye to everyone after almost two weeks.
I have had a wonderful time in Tallinn. The festival team and all the volunteers were so kind and helpful and the festival was well organized. I have been so well taken care of. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to be part of the FICC jury.

Emelie Sundberg
Swedish Federation of Film Societies
Member of the FICC jury