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Our verdict of the 26th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival: the finest selection in five years

During the past two weeks, seven journalists from DMovies covered the most exciting and diverse film festival of Northern Europe; here are our main highlights!

This is DMovies’ fifth consecutive year at the only Fiapf-ranked A-category Film Festival in Northern Europe. The Tallinn Black Nights have since become one of biggest partners since. I literally can’t wait to travel to the Estonian capital again every year. This time I was supported by an incredible team of seven journalists: three of us in loco (myself, Jeremy Clarke, Livan Garcia-Duquesne), and a further four journalists remotely from the UK (Paul Risker, Eoghan Lyng, James Luxford and John McDonald). Altogether, we published a whopping 91 pieces during the course of the past two weeks, and earlier. You can read them in our review and also in our article archive. Or just type in “Tallinn” in our search engine.

I covered the 23 films in the Official Competition. This was the best selection this year. I gave either 4.5 or five splats to all of the following filthy genius movies: Driving Mum (Hilmar Oddsson), River of Desire (Sergio Machado), Piece of my Heart (Dana Nechushtan), A Cup of Coffee and New Shoes On (Gentian Koci), The Fox (Adrian Goiginger), The Wastetown (Ahmad Bahrami) and Servus Papa, See you in Hell (Christopher Roth). That’s seven outstanding films in the main competition alone. That’s the finest selection I have come across during my five years at PÖFF. Very much on a par (if not superior) with other a-category film festivals around Europe.

I mostly agree with the choices of the jury (something which doesn’t happen all the time): Driving Mum won both the Grand Prix (the event’s top prize and the Best original Score award, The Wastetown won Best Director, River of Desire won Best Cinematography, while Servus Papa snatched Best Production Design. The main competition award list is completed by Best Actor to Gurban Ismailov in Cold as Marble (Asif Rustamov), Best Actress for Antonia Zegers in The Punishment (Matias Bize), and Best Screenplay for Shahar Rozen and Dudu Busi in Ducks – an Urban Legend (Shahar Rozen). I was surprised that the Albanian film A Cup of Coffee and New Shoes On (about the real story of two deaf brothers who go blind) left empty handed: this is one of the most heart-wrenching films I have seen in a long time, supported by two astounding performances (by Portuguese identical twins Rafael and Edgar Moraes).

You can read Livan’s take on the First Feature selection and award winners by clicking here. And you can view Jeremy’s opinions of the Critics’ Picks strand and its winners right here. In addition, we covered various films in the Baltic Competition, Rebel with a Cause, documentaries and much more. Award winning films in other categories include Giedrius Tamoševičius and Vytautas V. Landsbergis’s The Poet (Best Baltic Film), Jose Luis Rugeles’s Rebelion (Best Rebel with a Cause Film), Alejandro Rojas and Juan Sebastián Vásquez’s Upon Entry (PÖFF Fipresci Award) and Siddharth Chauhan’s Amar Colony (First Features Special Jury Prize).

The picture at the top is not a still from a movie. That’s actually me entering the Baltic Sea on my last day of the Festival, as the mercury hit -4C. PÖFF offers its guests the daily opportunity to dip into the freezing waters of coastal Tallinn, followed by relaxation at a sauna. And then back into the Sea. And back to the sauna. And so on. As many times as you like. That’s what we call Baltic hospitality! A big thank you to Edvinas Puksta and Dagmar Raudam for making this possible.

I can’t wait for yet another incredible selection of dirty movies in the Estonian capital in 2024!

By Victor Fraga - 28-11-2022

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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