Oldest Estonian film uncovered in Russian archive

A scene from "Laenatud Naene". (Courtesy of Estonian Film Institute)
11/11/2014 10:20 AM
Category: Culture

An Estonian delegation to the Russian film arhive Gosfilmofond were given an exclusive screening of the oldest surviving Estonian film "Laenatud Naene", which was recently discovered in its vast holdings.

The oldest preserved Estonian narrative film was hitherto believed to be the 1914 "Karujaht Pärnumaal" ("Bear Hunt in the Pärnu County"), directed by Johannes Pääsuke.

The newly discovered comedy "Laenatud Naene" ("A Borrowed Wife") was filmed in Tallinn a year earlier, in 1913. It stars once famous Estonian actors Paul Pinna and Alfred Sällik, among a few others. The film is 12 minutes long and the scenes include views of the Toompea Hill, the Fat Margaret Tower and the Shnelli ponds.

Edith Sepp of the Estonian Film Institute said that seeing the film for the first time was a "great experience", although the film itself included somewhat "strange material".

The film has not survived in its original format but in a 35-millimeter copy. The technical quality of the preserved copy is described as good, but the titles and interim texts have not survived. Hence the director of the film is not known and there are other unanswered questions that Sepp hopes the public can help with. The female actress (on the picture), for instance, has not been identified yet, either.

Russian Gosfilmofond is the largest cinematic collection in the world. It boasts 70,000 titles and 967,000 rolls of film material. Located in Beliye Stolby, about 50 kilometers from Moscow, it houses the original film negatives of feature films and animations produced by "Tallinnfilm" during the Soviet Era.

The Estonian delegation, which included representatives from the Estonian Film Institute, the National Archive and the Estonian Filmmakers' Union, were at the presentation.


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