In the 1994 film, Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) says “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”
That’s what it’s like at the Estonian Documentary Film Festival (EstDocs) Short Film Competition every year. You don’t know what you’re going to see, but you know it’s going to be good and together they all make for a very attractive presentation.
This year there was more to see than usual as a record 17 short films were submitted to the competition. There was also a new venue, the Super Wonder Gallery on Queen Street West, and it proved to be great space. There was a capacity audience of about 70 film-goers in attendance, which made for a lively opening event for EstDocs.
Short Films Competition Director Emma Soolepp was thrilled with the response, and said that was the biggest surprise with this year’s films.
Emma takes over the helm of the compettion from long-time director Tauno Mölder. She gives a huge thank you Tauno, who was still very involved in the work this year, and helped put the evening together.
And the films! They never disappoint in their heartwarming, quirky and decidedly distinctive styles.
What struck me most were a couple of films featuring some very bright, articulate and imaginative Estonian children by filmmaker Liis Nimi.
In “Häälemuutja,” a young girl has invented a story-telling “app” that mimics a mother’s voice, so that the listeneer can hear that comforting sound when listening to a story or “muinas jutt.”
In “Tolmuhimeja 6000,” also by Liis Nimi, another inventive young boy decided to create plans for a vacuum cleaner that magically catches and pulverizes those pesky stones that come flying at your car’s windshield and crack the glass. The vacuum cleaner, which would be mounted most conveniently on the roof of the car, would suck the stones before they do any damage.
Imagination like this can only lead to great things.
I also loved “The Form is in the Code” by Krista Jutt, which showcased a group of artists using computer-assisted design to make creations out of clay. The simple, classic, yet intricate designs were as beautiful as they were imaginative.
One thing I love about EstDocs is you always learn something you didn’t have a clue existed on this Earth. For example, who has ever heard of Slowball? Filmmaker Alice Järvet tells us. This is a kind of social movement of artists and car enthusiasts who combine these two loves by painting their vehicles in all kinds of bold designs and drive around various countries in a kind of crazy, colourful convoy. Naturally, there are some Estonians participating in the endeavor.
“Inna’s Dream” by Imre Sooäär is a film about a senior woman from Muhu who fulfilled a lifelong dream to fly by co-piloting a plane and then sky-diving out of it to a safe and thrilling landing.
The audience gets to be judge and jury and vote on their favorite film. The top choices, including selections made by the competition’s jury, will be shown at the festival on Friday, November 3 at the Gala Presentation evening that features the film “The Woman in the Picture” by Priit Valkna.
The full EstDocs festival – which this year marks its 14th anniversary - starts on November 3 and runs to November 7. The screenings on Friday and Saturday nights take place at the Hot Docs Cinema, which is a terrific film venue and a short walk from the Bathurst subway station.
Sunday, Nov. 5 is an afternoon of three films at Tartu College starting at 2.30 and also features an artist’s talk. Monday’s film is at Ehatare at 6 p.m. and the festival wraps up on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Estonian House.
EstDocs is a highlight in the year’s arts calendar – it’s a chance to reconnect with our roots, see old friends and find out something new about the rich and ever-evolving Estonian culture. I wouldn’t miss it, and you shouldn’t either!
Go to www.estdocs.com to find out what’s playing.