Õunpuu’s Estonian wasteland
by Boyd van Hoeij
After the selection of Magnus in Cannes and Klass [+see also:
film profile] in Karlovy Vary, a third Estonian film makes its debut at a prestigious festival this year with the Venice premiere of Autumn Ball [+see also:
film profile], which was presented in the Horizons section.
The 2-hour film was written and directed by Veiko Õunpuu, who again adapted a work by the late novelist Mati Unt after his successful first medium-length feature Empty.
Estonian Shooting Stars Rain Tolk (2007) and Maarja Jakobson (2006) again co-star, and behind the camera much of the crew is back as well, including producer Katrin Kissa of Kuukulgur Film and cinematographer Mart Taniel, who gives the film an unusually luminous look that contrasts with its dark message of loneliness and despair. Similarly, Õunpuu uses dark and at times absurd humour to intensify the drama.
The film looks at solitude in a sprawling Soviet-era housing estate, where people might be crammed in at close quarters but where every single person seems to be an island, unable to relate to others or even to themselves. Through its strong performances, sparse dialogue and focus on visual elements, the characters’ emotions are uncovered with precision as their unhappy destinies play out against the background of a group of towering building blocks surrounded by an Estonian wasteland; an island populated by islands.
Autumn Ball was produced by Kuukulgur Film in co-production with Homeless Bob Production and with backing from the Estonian Film Foundation and Tugev Tuul Films. It will be distributed in Estonia on September 13 through MPDE.
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