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Five-day EstDocs film festival wraps up in Toronto on Tuesday

The 14th annual Estonian Documentary Film Festival in Toronto, or EstDocs, will conclude on Tuesday following five days of film screenings at various locations across Toronto that kicked off with a gala event last Friday.


The gala reception, screening and presentation of the Short Film Awards took place at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Friday night, showcasing Priit Valkna's film "The Woman in the Picture" ("Naine pildil"), about the Estonian painter Lauri Sillak, alias Laurentsius, and his work in Tallinn in a building that once belonged to Johannes Parikas, the father of Estonian film and photography, and his wife Lilli.

Both Valkna and Sillak were in attendance and participated in a discussion following the screening moderated by film critic Tristan Priimägi.

The winners of the EstDocs' juried Short Film Awards were likewise announced on Friday night:

  • Riho Västrik, "New Neighbors" ("Uued naabrid"), Short Film Award
  • Aleks Meiusi, "Mana Land,"  Otto Rannamäe Audience Favourite Award
  • Imre Sooäär, "Inna's Dream," Estonian Studies Centre Amateur Film Award

This year's film lineup aimed to provide the Canadian public with a global look at films not only about Estonia and Estonians, but broader issues as well, including current-day fighting in Chechnya and the Holodomor in Ukraine, according to an EstDocs press release. The lineup was also a blend of the historical and the artistic and ranged from the humorous to the more serious.

All films were either in English or had English subtitles.

Films across Toronto

Screenings open to the public took place at various locations across Toronto, including Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, the Toronto Estonian House, Tartu College. In addition, private screenings of select films were also held at the Toronto Estonian Supplementary Schools, Ehatare Retirement and Nursing Home and the Suomi-Koti Finnish Canadian Seniors Centre.

Special guests at the film festival included Laurentsius, Priit Valkna, filmmaker Ülo Pikkov, producer Liis Lepik, directors Reet and Toomas Mae, director Ariadna Ochrymovych, and narrator Luba Goy.

Films screened at the 2017 edition of EstDocs included:

  • "The Woman in the Picture" ("Naine pildil"), Priit Valkna
  • "Come Back Free" ("Tulge tagasi vabana"), Ksenia Okhapkina
  • "Soviet Hippies" ("Nõukogude hipid"), Terje Toomistu
  • "Our Home" ("Meite kodu"), Meelika Lehola and Daniel Picon
  • "St. John's Day" ("Jaanipäev"), Aleksandr Heifets and Jaak Kilmi
  • "Raising of the Flag" ("Lipu heiskamine"), Reet and Toomas Mae
  • "Holodomor: Voices of Survivors" ("Holodomor: Ellujäänute hääled"), Ariadna Ochrymovych
  • "Empty Space" ("Tühi ruum"), Ülo Pikkov
  • "Body Memory" ("Keha mälu"), Ülo Pikkov
  • "Tick Tock" ("Tik tak"), Ülo Pikkov
  • "Fragile World" ("Habras maailm"), Ants Tammik
  • "Lembri Uudu" ("Lembri Uudu"), Eeva Mägi
  • "Paradise Behind the Fence" ("Lumi punasel lagedal"), Aljona Suržikova
  • "My Song and Dance Festival") ("Minu laulu- ja tantsupidu"), Kadi Katarina Priske

EstDocs is a juried competition featuring documentary talent from Estonia and around the world. Its mission, as stated on its homepage, is "to provide a 360° perspective on the arts, politics and Estonian culture. EstDocs intends to entertain, challenge and provoke by introducing a new Estonian generation approach to cinema."

The film festival is presented by Tartu College, whose mandate is to study and promote culture through the literature, music and art of minority nationalities in Canada, particularly those of the Baltics.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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