For nearly two and a half weeks, between November 3rd and 19th, the 27th edition of one of the most diverse and exciting film festivals of Europe shook the Estonian capital. The 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (or PÖFF, as it’s affectively known, in the Estonian acronym), the only such event to hold a-list Fiapf accreditation in Northern Europe, showed a total of 528 films, amongst features and shorts, from 73 countries, and divided into various strands (most of them competitive). They include the Official Competition, First Feature Competition, Critics’ Picks, Baltic Competition, Rebels with a Cause, Just Film, Midnight Shivers, Doc@PÖFF, Best of Festivals, and more.
DMovies was present at the event for the sixth consecutive year, with three journalists on site: myself and two of our longest serving writers, Jeremy Clarke and Eoghan Lyng. We also had a remote helping hand from various writers in the UK: Paul Risker, John McDonald, Anton Bitel, Chris Simpson and Daniel Theophanous. This means that we reviewed 110 feature films exclusively for you, including every single one in the five main competitive strands (the first five sections mentioned above). You can read Eoghan’s lowdown on the First Feature Competition by clicking here, and Jeremy’s take on Critics’ Picks here. The strongest film selection seemed to be in the latter: Jeremy gave the maximum rating of five stars to eight out of 15 movies, and there was not a single negative or mixed review. He was genuinely astounded by the quality of the films. And you can read the remaining pieces in our review archive here.
A total of more than 30 prizes were given out during the closing ceremony on Saturday. Pictured above are all the winners, the jury and the festival crew on stage.
My personal focus was on the Official Competition, where a total of 20 films from all corners of the planet vied for the event’s top prizes. These were the films that snatched the top prizes, followed by a little logline of my authorship:
My dirty picks
My two favourite films were the Consent and Amal, two French language movies teeming with audacity and passion. I was, however, very pleased with the big winner. Misericordia is a brutally honest and harrowing drama that deserved such recognition. In fact, none of the main prizes disappointed me (it’s very rare that the opinion of a journalist should coincide almost entirely with that of the jury).
Outside the Official Competition, Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest and Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall deserve a special mention. Both films premiered in Cannes earlier this year (where they snatched the event’s top prizes, the Palme d’Or and the Grand Prix), and received further recognition in Tallinn (with two tailored prizes). Glazer’s movie is a deeply humane and (precisely for that reason) haunting depiction of Nazis, and a warning to mankind of what could happen when we become desensitised to suffering. Triet’s film is one of the most humanistic and finely scripted courtroom dramas you will see in your life.