Tallinn becomes a New World thanks to new documentary
by Laurence Boyce
Documentary Uus Maailm (The New World) received a rapturous reception as it was given its premiere at Tallinn’s Coca-Cola Plaza last Thursday night. Directed by Jaan Tootsen and produced by Jaak Kilmi (director of Disco and Atomic War [+see also:
film profile], the Estonian documentary that proved a huge success on the festival circuit), the film follows the New World Society, a citizens’ initiative in Tallinn who is attempting to change their bit of the world.
Released in Estonian cinemas from mid-October, the film is due to have its international premiere at the Jihlava International Documentary Festival. Whilst some of the settings and characters should have particular resonances amongst Estonian audiences, its charismatic lead protagonist and compelling story should see it become popular at documentary festivals across the world (especially at those with an ecological and human rights angle). The 58 minute cut of the film should also see some interest from TV.
At the heart of the film is Erko, a man who wants to build a new society in which bikes replace cars and people come together to share art, culture and life stories. With a group of like-minded friends, he gleefully wages a campaign of civil disobedience (such as occupying a car park and filling it with bikes and flowers) against those who would fill society full of rules. When the chance comes to receive a grant to build a literal new world – a community centre just outside the centre of Tallinn – Erko and colleagues start to enjoy recognition from the city and others. But soon the pressure of filling in forms, dealing with permits & angry neighbours, and lack of donations sees Erko becoming increasingly agitated at having to ‘work’ for a living. Soon Erko is wondering whether the new world will fall foul of age old problems.
Following the group for more than five years, Toosten has managed to craft a story about dreamers and the – sometimes harsh – reality trying to realise those dreams. Erko makes for a fascinating central character managing to be both sympathetic and self-absorbed at the same time. There are a couple of moments when you feel that a bit more information would be welcome (especially in the latter half of the film) but this is still a thought-provoking – and often funny – piece of work.
Uus Maailm is produced by Kuukulgur Films.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.