Reede, 07 Oktoober 2016 19:02
Helgi Leesment - Estonian Life No. 40 2016
Tiina Mälberg, star of Oscar nominated Estonian film Ema/Mother, enjoys view of Rocky Mountains in Canmore, Alberta with host Kelly Schuler, president of the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society. Photo: Helgi Leesment (2016)
Calgary had the fortune to experience a double feature late September at its International Film Festival (CIFF). The Estonian crime mystery Ema /Mother was shown twice, with its star actor Tiina Mälberg in attendance at the first showing. This is the first time, other than showings of the documentaryThe Singing Revolution a few years ago, that a full-length Estonian feature film has been commercially shown in Alberta.
The entire experience was heightened by the recent news that Ema/Mother is Estonia's nomination for an Oscar Academy Award in the Foreign Language film category. This is quite a feat for a very low budget production and speaks well of director Kadri Kõusaar and producer Aet Laigu. For well known Estonian Rakvere Theatre actress Tiina Mälberg, with 25 years stage and a couple of films experience, this is a great credit to her career.
The Alberta Estonian Heritage Society was introduced at both showings of the film as the official "community partner". The organization played an important role in getting Ema/Mother to Calgary, with special thanks to former president Ave Peetri and current president Kelly Schuler.
The two Calgary International Film Festival showings of this Estonian film, on September 25 and 29, attracted close to 200 viewers in total, many local Estonians among them. Viewers had a choice of over 200 films at the twelve day event in downtown Calgary.
Ema/Mother is a somewhat darkly humorous tale of mother Elsa (Tiina Mälberg) who suddenly needs to tend hourly to her adult son Lauri (Siim Maaten), bedridden at home in a coma, the victim of an unsolved shooting. Soon visitors from the small town arrive, one or two at a time. Each seems to need to confess something to the unconscious school teacher, as do even mother and father. The police officer tries to obtain information from everyone about large missing sums of money recently withdrawn from Lauri's bank account. Mother has to cope with all this as well as handling the constant care of her son. This production increasingly haunts the viewer, until the eruptions in the last few minutes. Reaction varies: at one showing there was applause, at the other there was laughter. It's that kind of a work!
At the end of the first screening in Calgary, the lead actor Tiina Mälberg talked for a short time about the film, then took questions. Local Estonian Kirsti Oja was at her side assisting with translation from time to time, when requested by the actress. Our star has already experienced such a showing earlier this year in New York at the Tribeca International Film Festival and handled Calgary questions with glamorous grace. She only refused to reply to those asking for her interpretation of certain parts. The session was superbly moderated by Sachin Ghandi, CIFF Features Programmer and Lead on the World Cinema Series. He spoke glowingly about the many Estonian films he had previewed as part of the selection process for this year, and indicated that he would like to see more than one film from Estonia at each future Calgary International Film Festival. Meanwhile, Ema/Mother is headed for screenings in Toronto and Vancouver.
After screening of the film Ema/Mother at the 2016 Calgary Film Festival, actor Tiina Mälberg answers audience questions. On left, moderator Sachin Ghandi; on right translator Kirsti Oja. Photo: Helgi Leesment (2016)
Selected questions and answers:Viewer:
Where was the location of the filming?Tiina M:
In the town of Kiviõli in north east Estonia.Viewer:
Why are there so many names in the credits at the end?Tiina M:
Those were the town's enthusiastic volunteers who acted in the crowd scenes at the market and a concert.Viewer:
Did you know the outcome of the plot when you started on the film?Tiina M:
To some degree. It gradually emerged as the rehearsals and filming progressed.Viewer:
I have never before seen a sex scene like this one.Tiina M:
There is a definite reason for it to be included and to be the way it is.Viewer:
What was the most difficult part for you to play in this movie?Tiina M:
The running scenes, where I run at night along the streets of the town.Viewer:
How did you get hired for this part?Tiina M:
The casting director looked through a series of photos of middle aged actresses, made her choice and called me. I was completely surprised but quickly delved into my role, into the character I was to portray.
Naturally, the lead actor in an Oscar nominated film garnered extra attention at various CIFF receptions during Tiina Mälberg's short stay in Alberta. Local fellow countrymen showed her around Calgary at night and daytime, as her CIFF schedule permitted. Kelly Schuler, Enn & Pärja Tiislar and Helgi Leesment hosted Tiina Mälberg on a highly appreciated trip to the town of Canmore in the Canadian Rockies in gorgeous spring-like weather.