Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival announces its 2022 First Feature competition lineup
The selection includes ten world premieres and eight international premieres in competition, with two international premieres screening out of competition, among the slate of 20 debuts. It’s a diverse, global programme that’s of a consistently high artistic standard, but also surprises and delights with fresh insight and perspective.
Festival Director Tiina Lokk commented, “Every year, I look at the programme we have assembled and feel we’ve taken a huge step forward as a festival. It’s an unfortunate reality of working at this level that we always have too many good films to squeeze them all into our competitions. What that does mean is that the new voices we have selected for this year’s First Features section are truly special. We can’t wait to introduce these films to the world.”
Black Nights Film Festival holds its 26th edition in 2022 and runs from November 11-27 in Tallinn & Tartu, Estonia. The full programmes of films will be announced at the start of November. International press and professionals will have the opportunity to watch much of the competition programmes online, as well as in press screenings onsite in Tallinn.
Siddharth Chauhan’s debut feature is a surreal, absurdist take on isolation and connection: fantasy meeting cold reality. This world premiere is a rich and engrossing piece, centered on three extremely different women: all hustle and bustle, birds and neon lighting, religion and very special tomatoes.
Coming off the back of a series of award-winning and some highly controversial documentaries, Zuzana Piussi’s fiction feature debut also has its world premiere in Tallinn this year. A socio-political drama edging into tragicomedy, focussed on a divorcee single mom, The Unbalanced brings a distinct and female-gazed perspective to issues such as mental illness, individualism and more, maintaining a keen sense of realism with some improvised elements.
The darkly comic, minimalistic Pelican, from Croatian director Filip Heraković, lands in Tallinn for its world premiere. In a spa hotel that's seen much better days, a motley crew of guests are held still in a kind of limbo, while the storytelling focuses on an injured goalkeeper going through an identity crisis.
Otherness and breaking through societal boundaries are key themes in Bruno Carboni’s debut feature. A progressive on a bicycle is hit by a conservative in a car. Unhurt, but somehow changed, she seeks out dialogue to understand deeper issues than just her broken bicycle. The Accident has its world premiere in Tallinn.
Fisnik Maxville’s debut finds layers of complexity digging into the darkest of subject matters: literally exhuming a Balkan mass grave and unravelling the familial clues and secrets uncovered within. Kosovo-born, Swiss-based writer-director Maxville previously helmed a number of documentaries, including a portrait of the Swiss football coach who took over the national Kosovan team, as well as some successful shorts.
Revenge, recriminations, guilt (of course) - all major features of Ivan Gergolet’s debut The Man Without Guilt. Leading up to his first feature, Gergolet taught filmmaking in schools and prisons in Trieste, where his debut is set, on the borderlands of Italy and Slovenia. The film is a thoughtful and challenging appraisal of moving past tragic events - that, inside the darkness, we can find forgiveness and fresh beginnings.
Divorced exes, reuniting many years after the fact, find themselves closer than they ever were before, when ex-husband requests a Catholic court properly dissolve their long dead relationship. Lithuanian director Titas Laucius brings Parade to Black Nights for its world premiere.
Set piece immigration drama Upon Entry sees a couple just about to start a new life in the US, when their entire reality, relationship and future are brought into question by an overly inquisitive, rolling over into invasive interview at the border crossing. Co-directors Juan Sebastián Vázquez and Alejandro Rojo, have backgrounds and acclaim in editing and cinematography, respectively.
Director Ma'ayan Rypp world premieres The Other Widow at POFF26. A mistress slowly realises she has just as much right to mourn her dead lover as his full-time family, as she infiltrates his Shiva. The piece is dramatic and artful, building on the director’s past as an acclaimed short film director (Cannes, Palm Springs) and also in the art department. The film screens as part of a larger Focus on Israeli film at this year’s festival.
Girl meets boy in vivid sadness in this world-premiering drama from Italy’s Marescotti Ruspoli. Creating a beautiful and lonely suburban dreamscape, together with cinematography from the acclaimed Luca Bigazzi, we focus on a young woman detached from the world and suffering from a mysterious affliction, the titular Amusia.
Neil Maskell steps behind the camera for the first time, having acted widely on the big and small screens in the UK. His debut feature, produced by Ben Weatley and featuring a variety of familiar actor faces, has its international premiere at POFF26: a whistleblower Brit and his outspoken Flemish wife are in hiding, tensely awaiting the arrival of the journalist who will tell all.
Karol and Marta are essentially the only characters in this precisely told capsule drama. In a small Polish apartment, Karol is taught how to be a human again, awaiting the removal of his tracking ankle bracelet. But, as Marta’s lessons become increasingly unusual, we are forced to question who is helping who. The director’s diploma short Time to go won in Cannes. The Hatcher has its international premiere in Tallinn this year.
Tim Roth is the hard-driving but well-meaning alcoholic father to the up and coming boxing talent, who’s finding his footing in the boxing ring and as a young gay man in small town New Zealand. Welby Ings’ directorial debut feels built on tapestry of real, lived experience: refreshingly insightful and told from underexposed perspective.
A deeply truthful tragicomic tale of a psychologist who needs one herself, Everybody Wants To Be Loved has its international premiere in Tallinn after picking up best screenplay and best acting awards in Munich and Ludwigshafen respectively. Katharina Woll’s debut is a colourful and revealing domestic relationship drama.
This Japanese pseudo-couple drama, complete with contemporary dance segments, is a moving and gently provocative story, intimate and physical. Enen Yo’s Double Life has its international premiere at POFF26 after world premiering at SKIP CITY INTERNATIONAL D-Cinema, where it picked up the Best Picture award in the Japanese Film Competition.
Sophie Jarvis brings her debut Until Branches Bend to POFF26 - the psychological drama has its international premiere in Tallinn after world-premiering in Toronto. Charting dark movements in an idyllic natural environment, it’s a story of the inevitable surfacing of underlying troubles and exploring the cost of doing what seems to be the right thing.
This South Korean mystery child ghost story is everything you’d hope that to be: moody, twisty and surprising. A lost son is replaced by visually-impaired adopted son, whose senses are attuned to spookier channels. This horror-leaning, semi-genre piece comes to POFF26 for its international premiere.
Unconditional love has its limits. Mother and children are suddenly just mother and daughter. Did younger sibling Storm push her brother into the river? Whatever the truth, the rumour spreads through a small Norwegian village like a raging torrent. Erika Calmeyer’s directorial apprenticeship has included credits on a number of Netflix shows. Storm has its international premiere in Tallinn this November.
Director Theodore Ushev directed 15 animation films for the National Film Board of Canada, picking up 200 awards along the way. And an Oscar nomination. Phi 1.618 is, unsurprisingly, a visual feast, a modern fairytale of books, punks, asexual immortals and golden ratios. The film screens out of competition as a international premiere.
An ultra orthodox couple must confront the heaviest of topics, secrets, religion and faith. Director and writer Vardi has a strong track record in documentaries and tv, before completing his fiction feature debut at the age of 63. Barren also has its international premiere at POFF26, as part of the Israeli Focus.