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Critics’ Picks: a brand-new film selection hits Tallinn

Jeremy Clarke anticipates his first visit to 26th PÖFF Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and its brand-new Critics' Picks strand

Having admired some of DMovies’ coverage of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival over the last few years and knowing it to be one of our publisher-editor Victor Fraga’s favourite festivals, I am delighted to have been asked to attend and cover a new section at the Festival, not least because I get to see both the event itself and the city of Tallinn first hand.

I don’t know that much about the city – decades ago, I and many others thrilled to the heist movie Darkness In Tallinn (Ilkka Järvi-Laturi, 1993) when it was released here by the now late, lamented UK cinema distributor Metro Tartan, all about criminals pulling off a robbery in a blackout. Hopefully, my visit will be nothing like this; indeed, I’m told that Estonia has the most fantastic, superfast internet – a facility of which I’m looking forward to availing myself.

This is the first year Tallinn have run their Critics’ Picks strand. Festivals can be baffling – you look through a programme and see a bunch of titles which mean nothing often directed by directors of whom you’ve never heard. Sometimes, of course, there’s a good reason you’ve never heard of them, but equally, there may be gems in here awaiting discovery and perhaps directors, actors or other talent at the start of (or maybe well into) impressive careers.

The temptation is to go for names you know – there are new films here by Ulrich Siedl, the late Kim Ki-duk and the UK’s own Carol Morley, the first two being out of competition entries, the latter being an in competition one. Siedl, whose extraordinary Rimini (2022) hits UK cinemas in December, has a follow-up film Sparta (which Victor watched and reviewed a couple of months ago at San Sebastian) about Richie Bravo’s brother. Kim had a reputation as Korea’s enfant terrible of film, and tends to eschew political correctness, so one has high hopes of his dream / fantasy movie Call of God, particularly in my case since I’m fascinated by manifestations of religion, something to which the title alludes. Morley, meanwhile, surely deserves some sort of accolade for the title of her latest film Typist Artist Pirate King which sounds like a feminine road movie involving an electric car looking for a plot.

I shall be looking out for any Oriental, Fantastique or animated titles in there, the dirtier the better. Taiwanese entry In the Morning of La Petite Mort (Wang Yu-Lin 2021) intertwines the lives of a food delivery driver and a sex worker, a building superintendent and a cleaning woman. Pan-European, comedy thriller Roxy (Dito Tsintsadze, 2022) seems to be about a taxi driver and Russian villains – possibly something like Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004). The Chambermaid (Mariana Čengel Solčanská, 2022) is a Slovakian, historical, lesbian, romantic drama. There are also films from the Philippines, Iran, Israel and Canada, among others – a fully international spread which bodes well.

Critics’ Picks – In Competition

Critics’ Picks – Out of Competition

  • Call of God (Kim Ki-duk) ****;
  • Karaoke (Moshe Rosenthal); and
  • Sparta (Ulrich Seidl) *****.

Bonus – Kids Animation Programme


By Jeremy Clarke - 03-11-2022

By Jeremy Clarke - 03-11-2022

Jeremy Clarke has been writing about movies in various UK print publications since the late nineteen eighties as well as online in recent years. He’s excited by movies which provoke audiences, u...

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