Inside Encounters #2- Preview: Estonian Dreams

Body Memory by Ülo Pikkov

Estonian animators show their appreciation of the little, or hidden, things in the Estonian Dreams programme, presented by one of the largest animation festivals in Scandinavia, Animated Dreams. We are not looking at the urban society model as a whole, but through a kind of magnifying glass. These six films depict unique characters alongside lovely scenes from their bizarre everyday lives.

According to Mari-Liis Rebane, curator of Estonian Dreams, director of the Animated Dreams, the Encounters film festival programmers already knew what they were looking for when they turned to Animated Dreams to curate this guest programme. They specifically asked for Priit Pärn, the best known Estonian animator in the world with a huge number of followers across the globe; Ülo Pikkov, another brilliant artist who is also an author of numerous comics, illustrations and children’s books, and of course, Priit Tender, a beloved animator in Estonia and winner of several international animation awards.

Estonian Dreams presents the top contemporary Estonian animations from two main animation studios, Joonisfilm and Nukufilm, but also independent artist Chintis Lundgren. It is a diverse selection of what Estonian animation looks like at the moment. You’ll find satire, calembour, black humour and social criticism as well as discovering insights about yourself.

The programme opens with Keha mälu (Body Memory, dir Ülo Pikkov), which brings us to the matter of relentless terror for all the post-soviet countries in a powerful way. We see dolls of twine placed in a wood construction that looks exactly like the animal wagons used to deport people to Siberia in the 40s during the Soviet reign. Keha mälu is a powerful visualisation of subconscious processes. There are strings pulling at each and every one of us, and even if we have erased the horrors of the past from our minds, our bodies will never forget.

This programme may seem gloomy at first, but the artistic value of the films goes beyond any apprehension, showing beauty in the unexpected. Kaspar Jancis is also known for his band Kriminaalne Elevant (you guessed it, it stands for ‘criminal elephant’), which plays music that evokes retro cartoons. In his animation Villa Antropoff, he brings in satire, black humour and cocaine. At the wedding reception of a bimbo girl and a mafia businessman, the most unorthodox things happen; middle-aged ladies let their hair down and men with thick moustaches spin them around on the dance floor. That is, until a weird wedding crasher appears (I am not going to tell you who!).

Those who are more tuned in to the animation scene may be especially looking forward to the Priit Pärn’s piece Tuukrid vihmas (Divers in the Rain). It is a gorgeous film shot in constant thin rain, much like Bristol over this week. Black and white surrealist drawings are accentuated with coloured details; red apples, nails, stork legs and the beaks of other birds. Pärn’s influence on the world of Estonian animation is apparent – and it is fun to look for it in the rest of the films in the Estonian Dreams programme.

By Emilie Toomela