REVIEW: Love and Lust at tARTuFF Opener ({{commentsTotal}})


Paulig, popcorn and prosecco were on offer in Tartu last night as the art deco cafes along Town Hall Square all got their game on for the tARTuFF film festival opener.

Professors on bikes, students and families from Ülenurme all turned out for the double feature, free to the public and screened outdoors on Town Hall Square at 22:00 as night fell. There weren't many blankets or even long sleeves visible. The night was almost sultry, and the cobblestones radiated warmth for at least the first half of the picture.

The square was packed from river promenade (i.e., Hesburger and the Paulig festival tent) to the Town Hall itself, with the famous statue of the kissing students left to make out behind the movie - not under the boardwalk, but behind the giant inflatable screen, as it were.

The 1,500 free seats, packed into a fairly narrow strip snaking between the cafe patios and projection booth infrastructure, were all claimed at least 20 minutes before the show. But there was also standing room, and of course one could stake out a table with reasonable line of sight.

György Pálfi's "Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen" was a genius choice for an opener, stitched together wholly from samples from some 500 classic films, all in the service of illustrating some particular love theme (guy meets girl, guy gets girl) as Hollywood has seen it in the past 100 years. Licensing issues had to be a nightmare, but those in attendance could accurately claim to have seen more feature films than there are at the main Black Nights festival each year.     

Too much for anyone but a video store nerd to absorb in one gulp, perhaps, but perfect for tuning in and out, conversing with partners, or wandering away to the sidelines to fill up on popcorn and little cups of sparkling French and Italian wines with names one felt one should know better. The popcorn and prosecco were from the same vendor, incidentally. 

Like a silent film, the original dialogue was muted out, leaving the sound track (classic themes like Chariots of Fire, 1950s crooner pop, you name it) to blare out in boomy glory.

As said, you would need a encyclopaedic knowledge of Western film to get all the references or even ID every sample, but some of the wittiest juxtapositions relied on slapstick and, well, the act of love or lust itself - to a degree that the puritanical might find surprising for a public event held on a city's main square. But because Final Cut was in part a love letter to Hollywood, Pálfi couldn't ignore chase scenes, shootouts or gratuitous violence either. It was literally an Everyfilm. 

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