Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) announces the first seven films to join its main Official Selection competition programme.
The films represent the diversity of geography, genre and theme present in this year’s refreshed competition programmes. This teaser selection includes new works from Iceland, Albania, Iran, Vietnam, Brazil and Japan, coming from both renowned, multi-award-winning auteurs and returning Black Nights favourites. It includes five world and two international premieres.
Festival Director Tiina Lokk commented on this year’s selection that, “It’s a wonderful but also hugely challenging job to manage such a large and varied programme of films at our growing festival. We’ve found that steering the festival ship takes time, but we have taken the opportunity to turn towards more streamlined and focused competition programmes this year. Our goal is always making sure films and audience connect. Everything we do is towards that end.” She continued that, “Even this first teaser announcement for the Official Selection is such a rich and diverse array of films. Considering this, it seemed an obvious choice to add another competition programme to this year’s festival - Critics’ Picks.”
The 26th edition of Tallinn Black Nights will introduce one new competition programme, Critics’ Picks, led by critic and programmer Nikolaj Nikitin. Critics’ Picks joins the established Official Selection, First Features, Baltic Competition and Rebels with a Cause programmes. Critics’ Picks was introduced to highlight more arthouse fare in the PÖFF lineup, starting with around 15 features in its first year. This year’s Baltic Competition will exclusively screen fiction films and also considers minority Baltic co-productions. Rebels and First Features competitions will continue to represent their respective niches - experimental works and fiction debuts.
For the first time, most programmes also have their own lead curators - with Triin Tramberg handling First Features, Edvinas Pukšta on Baltic Competition duty, Javier Garcia Puerto heading the Rebels programme, Helmut Jänes leading Midnight Shivers and Tiit Tuumalu responsible for DOC@PÖFF.
Israeli film will be in Focus in this year's 26th edition, alongside Showcase of Brazilian cinema. The festival runs from November 11-27, 2022.
Writer/director Hilmar Oddsson’s road trip black comedy is an Icelandic/Estonian co-production, coming to the Official Selection for its world premiere this November. Driving Mum plays out an intensely personal, dreamlike journey against the stunning backdrop of Icelandic nature. Untethered from the one strongest connection in his life, Jon must follow through on his mother’s final, dying wish: to be buried in the village of her birth. The ensuing long, cross-country odyssey is a profoundly effecting and amusing rumination on loss, loneliness and confronting change.
Inspired by a true story, Gentian Koçi’s A Cup of Coffee and New Shoes On follows twin, middle-aged brothers - already both deaf and mute - who must contend with also losing their sense of sight. This sophomore feature is high concept with a heart, delving deep into themes of perception and human existence, told in pure, clear cinematic language which fades to a final, empty, metaphorical black. This Albanian/Portuguese/Greek/Kosovan co-production will also have its world premiere in Tallinn. The director’s 2017 Daybreak was selected as Albania’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, after premiering and picking up a best actress award in Sarajevo.
Ahmad Bahrami’s previous feature The Wasteland premiered in Venice, picking up three prizes in 2020, including the Orizzonti Best Film Award, before featuring in PÖFF’s Current Waves programme that year. The Wastetown is a companion piece of sorts, close in name and theme, a portrait of the rougher edges of Iran, again shot in crisp black and white. Bemani, in legal limbo, convicted of murder, searches for her missing son in the scrapyard where her brother-in-law works. Each challenging and twisty encounter with the scrapyard’s inhabitants, leads our protagonist closer to the complex truth.
A love triangle or more like a love square, Sergio Machado’s River of Desire introduces three cohabiting brothers - unfortunately, only one is married to the beguiling Anaira. Stranded at home by a riverboat captain husband out on a mysterious charter, the romantic temptations are too much for the woman left behind. The film has its world premiere at PÖFF26 and will also form part of a small Brazilian showcase. Machado’s fiction debut Lower City (Cidade Baixa) debuted in Canne’s Un Certain Regard programme, picking him up the Youth Prize.
Ryuichi Mino is back in Tallinn for the second year running, after Make The Devil Laugh featured in the Official Selection in PÖFF 25. Ginji The Speculator will both satisfy and surprise fans of his previous work. His third feature is a British comedy in Japanese clothes, with central character Ginji at once earnest farm boy and entrepreneurial savant, finding ingenious and entertaining solutions in a timeless tale of business and found family. Lead actor Yu Uemura picked up the Best New Artist at Japan’s MainichiFilm Awards. Ginji The Speculator is also a world premiere at this year’s Black Nights.
Lương Đình Dũng returns to PÖFF after featuring in the Official Selection with Father & Son back in PÖFF 21, as well as with Drowsy City in 2019. Father & Son was also put forward at Vietnam’s Oscar entry. This time, it’s a father-daughter story, where trucker Hùng starts out a brutal path of revenge when his depressed daughter, An, is kidnapped. And worse. She’s all he’s got and he has the dark and mysterious past to hunt down and bring her captor to justice. 578 Magnum is an internationally-premiering action thriller quite unlike else you’ll see this year: intricately choreographed action sequences, orbiting a dark thematic heart.
In laser-focused realtime, The Punishment charts the grief and regret of two parents with a child missing (or abandoned?) in the forest. The psychological thriller explores the darkest corners of relationship and family values. Chile’s Matias Bize brings his 7th feature, a Chilean/Argentinian co-production, to PÖFF for its international premiere. Bize has a cast iron track record, premiering previous works at Locarno and Venice twice, while his most recent feature Private Messages (Mensajes Privado) picked up best acting and editing awards at its premiere in Malaga last year.