The festival celebrates its 25th with an especially strong selection of author films, including returning favourites and emerging talents from all corners of the cinematic world.
The 2021 lineup includes the world premieres of Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s latest Herd Immunity, Kristijonas Vildžiūna's fifth feature Songs for a Fox, György Pálfi’s Perpetuity, Abed Abest’s Killing the Eunuch Khan, Jun Lana’s Big Night and Aku Louhimies’ The Wait.
Commenting on the programme selection, festival director Tiina Lokk struck an upbeat tone: “We have seen strong festival lineups around Europe this year, but it seems there is more than enough great cinema to go around. So it has been both a real pleasure and a huge challenge to programme this year’s Official Selection. The surprising, revealing and moving films we present this year, on the occasion of our 25th birthday, are something we're all very proud of." Acknowledging the challenges of the Covid-19 in the last years, Lokk continued: "Now, it’s our job to get audiences to watch these films. Though we will continue as a hybrid festival, with our web cinema available throughout Estonia, the most important and exciting thing for us is to get cinephiles back into cinemas. We will do this carefully and safely, with innovative new technologies developed here by Estonian scientists, and with the strong belief that these important films deserve to be seen on the big screen."
Official Selection - In Competition
The industrious Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov returns to Black Nights’ Official Selection for the second year running, after premiering Ulbolsyn with us in 2020, with his latest deadpan farce Herd Immunity. A Hawaiian-shirted, often-dancing, countryside cop ambles through a comic and contemporary Covid-19 bureaucracy odyssey, juggling an improbable number of mobile-phone-based bribes on his way to perhaps patching things up with the ex-wife now married to his boss.
Songs for a Fox
Lithuanian/Latvian/Estonian co-production Songs for a Fox (Dainos Lapei) is also a world premiere at PÖFF25. Retired rockstar Kristijonas Vildžiūnas’s fifth feature is a rich and swampy lucid dream, blending live action drama, neon fantasy and some bonus musical numbers, as the heartbroken protagonist holes up in a geodesic dome and sets off on a delirious (inner) journey to reconnect with his recently deceased girlfriend.
György Pálfi’s Perpetuity, apparently part-filmed through a sniper rifle, drops us into a booze-fuelled Hungarian-speaking post-apocalypse replete with downed airliners and a shop which only sells palinka. Central cipher Ocsenás stands out as seemingly the one good man in this depraved reality, populated by a motley and crusty cast of misfits, before he tangles himself up in a suitably unhealthy love-triangle romance.
Killing the Eunuch Khan
Abed Abest’s second feature Killing the Eunuch Khan is another world premiere in Tallinn this November. Thrown back into a dusty 1980s and the height of the Iran/Iraq war, the film is a meditation on the cycles of violence and war and their infectious qualities. Clean, architectural sets are washed over by rivers of blood, as historical grievances are played back like excerpts from a documentary.
Big Night, from Pilipino director Jun Lana, also screens as a world premiere at PÖFF this year. Incorrectly implicated in the Philippine’s war on drugs (and likely in sudden and serious danger), our central, determined and resourceful, hairdresser spends the titular “Big Night” chasing leads (all oversize characters) to clear his name, through bustling market hustle and small, sticky apartments. Director Lana picked up the Best Director award at Tallinn Black Nights in 2019 for Kalel, 15.
Aku Louhimies’ certified carbon-negative feature The Wait locks down its audience in what seems a rural island idyll: all crayfish parties and skinny dips. Until the arrival of one old mutual friend pulls everything out of balance and into a sensual, adult exploration of desire, longing and honesty facing their messy consequences. Be careful what you wait for.