HIFF <3 Estonia! New films and classics from our beloved neighbour country, which celebrates its centennial birthday.

An avalanche traps a police detective, an innkeeper, a physicist, a terrorist and the mysterious Mr. and Mrs. Moses in a remote alpine ski resort. The same night, a semi-delirious stranger shows up and a Scandinavian fop is found dead, his neck twisted by some impossibly powerful force. It’s up to the policeman, Inspector Glebsky, to solve the case. Although the setup is consciously designed like an Agatha Christie mystery, it was actually penned by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, Russia’s most famous sci-fi writers, and they have something much weirder in mind. […] Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel was impressively ahead of its time in terms of style, structure and theme. The night-shrouded neo-noir cinematography and Sven Grunberg’s ominously dreamy synth score anticipate cinema’s dominate mood through the 1980s. The self-conscious deconstruction of mystery conventions […] and the unlikely fusion of genres feels strikingly modern. The initially sympathetic Glebsky ultimately winds up
Screenings

The End of the Chain (2017)

A secluded fast food joint next to an empty parking lot. It’s nice to go there, because nobody recognizes you. On a rainy autumn day, people show up one after the other, all of them on the verge of a breakdown – or perhaps a breakthrough? The main character, Waitress, sees and absorbs it all. One by one, through their personal drama, the clients push Waitress towards her own edge. The End of the Chain is a story about people in the middle of a crisis – both in their souls and in the world around them. It is a film about the wish to find an anchor in life and the need to feel understood and approved. Deep topics are spiced up with humor. The End of the Chain is Priit Pääsuke’s (b. 1975) fiction feature debut, and it is based on a theatre play by Paavo Piik (b.
Screenings

The Last Relic (1969)

“How many times must I kill the same man?” The Last Relic, a film dubbed by critics as “the only Estonian cult movie”, is more than deserving of such a title. The Last Relic is the relic of Estonian cinema, a valuable object that’s somehow survived the ages […]. Agnes [Ingrīda Andriņa] is to be married to a nobleman, peasants revolt, adventurer Gabriel [Aleksandr Goloborodko] must save Agnes from the uprising, Agnes is recaptured and again forced to be wed, Gabriel must again rescue her. [The film has a] distinctly modern shooting style. I loved the attention to what was in the background, the way the camera would glide, keeping what is close up in frame, but revealing something dramatic behind. It’s the cinematic equivalent to theatrics, large scale overly dramatic sweeping camera movements added to the grand scale of the films visuals. The Last Relic is easily the most
Screenings
Director Sulev Keedus paints three powerful portraits of powerless women at different points in Estonia’s stormy history. A time-jumping triptych of female character studies, The Manslayer/The Virgin/The Shadow is a long-gestating, ambitiously scaled portmanteau project from veteran Estonian art house director […]. Winner of the top cinematography prize at Black Nights Film Festival [Tallinn, 2017], this visually ravishing epic is a stellar showcase for rising Baltic screen star Rea Lest, who plays different heroines in each of the three chapters. The Manslayer/The Virgin/The Shadow is a beautifully crafted work whose strong performances, novelistic textures and painterly visuals deserve a wider audience beyond the Baltic region. […] Skilled at suggesting inner torment behind a placid facade, Lest’s quiet intensity and moon-faced magnetism serve these anguished characters well. A strikingly avant-garde score, by Latvian composer Martynas Bialobzeskis, amplifies her emotional dislocation with its discordant scrapes and doleful drones. Most of all, the
Screenings

The Man Who Looks Like Me (2017)

In The Man Who Looks Like Me, directorial duo Katrin and Andres Maimik once again explore the differences between two generations […]. Hugo (Rain Tolk) is a music critic who discovers that his wife has been cheating on him. After moving to the countryside to rebuild his life and work on his latest book, his life is disrupted when his estranged father, Raivo (Roman Baskin), arrives on the scene. As Raivo reveals he is going to die, Hugo decides to tolerate his presence. But when Hugo meets therapist Marian (Evelin Võigemast), the father and son find that the direction that their lives have taken means that they are more divided than they once thought. While the topic of the film is a well-worn trope, the Maimiks create a fresh angle on proceedings, as the film works as both an exploration of familial conflict and a satire of academic posturing. […]
Screenings