The film program of the third Worldfilm festival, taking place at March 13.-19th, presents nearly 50 films. The main principle, while choosing the films, has been a cultural anthropological, investigative approach to cultural variety of the world. In this sense, Worldfilm festival is primarily not a leisurely or artistic event, it could rather be seen as a two-sided arena or a meeting point of different cultures of the world with more pragmatic, contemplative and more entertaining and adventurous sides.

Within three years, festival has obviously changed. Since autumn 2005, it became an around-the-year-event. The festival week is now complemented by the Worldfilm evenings, offering one film at a time and enabling to discuss the film with a guest. Topics of these evenings have been Islam, contemporary Cuba, cultural heritage sites and architecture, and finally war with soldiers facing ethical and moral dilemmas. As Worldfilm includes in its main program also films which should be shared with a wider circle of people than those gathering to Tartu during the festival week, Worldfilm has started co-operation with Estonian Television.  In March, ETV screens four films from our film program at 2005.

Anthropological or investigative films can not be narrowed down to the films shown in special seminars for anthropology students only. Anthropological approach can be found from the works of several documentary film makers, and actually ‘anthropological’ does not refer to the documentary genre only. Therefore we have chosen documentary films, feature films and films, which identification on the basis of genre is not clear or important. We do this in order to share with the public both special events, but also the everyday life elsewhere in the world, and to discuss it with the authors of the films. In addition to the main program, the festival comprises also a selection of special issues.

In cooperation with a well known centre of ethnographic film, Documentary Educational Resources (DER), Worldfilm presents a selection of films from John Marshall, a classical figure in anthropological film making and the founder of DER, who recently passed away. The program will be presented in cooperation with the acting director of DER, Cynthia Close.

The films by John Marshall form the core part of anthropological documentary film making. Under the focus of his films, are since 1950ies, the film series, made within 50 years about the life in Kalahari desert, primarily the TV-series Kalahari Family about hunters and gatherers tribe who, still in 1950ies living untouched by the civilization, were enfolded by the chaos caused by a general change, about the fight for establishing farming communities and about the demands to get back their traditional living areas.

John Marshall, who had been an innovator in the anthropological documentary film for nearly half a century, told in the interview to Jevgeni Alexandrov and Liivo Niglas that in his mind, this area has always had a kind of a problem, namely, anthropology and also ethnography are both very high-level abstractions. According to Marshall, a film can’t create abstractions, as when you are filming people, whether it is one or ten persons, they are still only people. “This is all, what a film can be,” he reckoned. Throughout his life, he tried to find ways for talking about invisible things through visible, whether they’ll be community values, beliefs, habits and other forms of mental culture, or long-term changes, as history itself.

Also contemporary documentary film makers and anthropologists are seeking to convey the invisible part of human culture, not seen with an eye, in their works. One of the expressions of this phenomenon is abandoning the pursuits of realism. Also anthropological documentaries are giving up the idea that realistic descriptions can be achieved only through “objective” documentation. Experiments and search of new possibilities, as for example fiction and animation, are becoming common. The workshop Anthropological film and animation is focusing on the example of this mingling process on the example of various films and it is discussed, why one or another film maker has chosen this solution. For example, animation can be used for expressing the invisible part of human culture including memories, dreams or myths. Animation can also be used to present things that could not be filmed, or the filming of which has been forbidden, for example things from the past or “taboo topics”.

In making the invisible visible, obviously fiction films have endless opportunities. In addition to John Marshall’s Kalahari series, through the fiction films Africa becomes one of the focus points of this year’s festival – three African fiction films can be found from the program. Also a part of those films draw on the invisible part of human culture, when telling their stories – on the rich narrative traditions of these regions in Africa.

African fiction films form a part of indigenous film making, which is a relatively new phenomenon – developments in this field started only in 1960ies, when mediated representation escaped from the domains of state cultural industries and other cultural monopolies like Hollywood or Bollywood. Very many indigenous communities have obtained the skills and opportunities of film making and media production. Although the fiction films in the festival program present the aesthetically top-quality productions by professional film makers, another edge of this phenomenon are certainly formed by so-called cottage culture industries with its endlessly rich visual languages. 

Wordlfilm also presents a selection of media and documentary film projects, which represent another side of the fragmentation in film- and media production, where film and media become tools, through which small communities can get contact with the outer world, or use it to transform or express the cultural identity within their own community. Film projects like Water and Autonomy by Chiapas Media Project or the film making workshops of the charity Tyger Tyger for children living in war and conflict zones, organized in Palestine and a film which was produced as a result of it, enable to think about how media and documentary projects can be of help, how and which aims are being achieved, or for what kinds of solutions are being found through these projects. Similarly it can be asked, how and if these kinds of  developments are dangerous – for example in the context of general homogenizing influence of the mass media is thought that dominating image- and narration culture and their appropriation can endanger small cultures.

As a part of the Worldfilm program, also Estonian film program is presented. In this time we approach the topic by an introduction of documentary films created at the Soviet time. As the moderator off the film program, Lauri Kärk says, the Worldfilm team had set two basic criteria for selection: on one hand to introduce the core part of Soviet Estonian documentaries, and on the other hand, to show, how the Soviet Estonian realities were reflected on the screen.

The films from those times form a complex phenomenon, the interpretation of which is based on the ability to ask various questions, for example, what film makers were able to accomplish in these complicated circumstances and what were the options for outfoxing the system? It means that in order to understand the films, also their context – Soviet realities - should be explored. In this time the film selection is connected by the image of the reporter appearing on the film screen.

In the reality, instead of reading the film introductions, the films should be seen with one’s own eye. We hope that our film selection affords inspiration both to the audience and the film makers. We wish that our future festivals will be events, encouraging even more participation of the audience in the form of lectures by film makers and other guests, seminars and workshops. In order to make festival a more integrated part of your life, we hope to have more events throughout the year and in other parts of Estonia. We also hope that Estonian National Museum will open a film library, presenting a choice of the films from the previous years. 

Festival has united both people and organizations, which care of the cultural variety of the world, including the uniqueness of their own home area. Therefore we would kindly like to thank the supporters, among whom we can find various embassies and cultural institutions of various countries, like Estonian Film Foundation, Estonian Cultural Endowment, Tartu City Council, Estonian Ministry of Culture, The embassy of Mexico, Instituto Camões, Embassy of Portugal, Embassy of the United States of America, French Cultural Centre in Estonia, Estonian Television, Pärimuskoda, Krabi ja Mask, A-Mari, and several others.


director of the festival,  

Pille Runnel