World Film Festival 2015 March 04, 2015

I place my fate and faith in reality. And the closer I adhere to reality the more honest and authentic my tales. It’s my way of making the world a better place. (Albert Maysles, the godfather of documentaries)

Pille Runnel, Director of the festival

We are glad to present the 12th edition of World Film Festival, which spans eight days, March 14th–21th, bringing you eight days full of documentary films.

World Film Festival is dedicated to documentary cinema and creative documentaries, bridging filmmakers and film audiences. The festival is located at the intersections of visual anthropology, representing an anthropological approach to cultures and societies and presenting generally challenging documentary films dealing with cultural diversity, cultural representations, and also politics. Through compelling stories about different cultures and individuals, our film program enables a fresh look on different cultures and the opportunity to think along.

Watching documentaries means being open to how the real lives of people we did not know unfold before our eyes. Sometimes this experience triggers powerful emotions and creates a close connection with the characters of the film. And sometimes it makes us feel as disconnected observers. 

As the dynamics of creating and loosing connection is a core part of the magic of documentaries, World Film Festival screens films, which portray people’s voices and sometimes try to understand why the protagonists – as persons and societies – remain silent. We prefer such films to documentaries which have been built around explanatory expert interviews. World Film Festival praises documentary as an expression of the author’s point of view, where aesthetics and storytelling are the priorities which we expect to have been combined with the honest exploration and understanding of one’s choices in the processes of interpretation.  

When bringing these stories to you, World Film Festival relies on a trustworthy community of filmmakers. We are glad when familiar filmmakers return to us with their new works once in a while. This coherence between the festival and the film community is especially important at the coming of age of digital film distribution, when film submissions to festivals can reach thousands. This is why, besides experienced filmmakers, World Film Festival gives the floor to film students – emerging talents with fresh voices and a willingness to learn. 

The festival program involves almost 60 films, including films which have gained attention and awards at international film festivals, but also films by many promising newcomers. These stories form a kind of kaleidoscope – by moving things around a little, familiar elements in new configurations reveal new images and topics. The film program covers many issues, such as globetrotters, traditional cultures and shamanism, religion, sports, fine arts and political activism. 

World Film Festival’s this year’s program focuses on the topic of vulnerability. Vulnerability can be approached at a personal level (for example as an emotion related to arts or scholarship), but it is important also for understanding contemporary society (political, social and technological vulnerabilities). Contemporary society is called a risk society: a risk of being vulnerable. 

Vulnerability is part of being human. It is at the heart of meaningful human experiences. To be vulnerable is frightening, but also a powerful and authentic way of living. One’s most weak and vulnerable parts might be those for which one builds the strongest defences. But these might also be approached in a way which gives birth to something new. Psychologist Brené Brown describes vulnerability as the core of all emotions: “To feel is to be vulnerable.” Vulnerability is a bridge to other people, love, joy, creativity and empathy. 

A number of films deal with the topics of psychology and mental health, but also culture, arts and creativity. “Salto Mortale” (dir. Guillaume Kozakiewiez) tells the story of a tightrope artist who returns to his craft after a devastating fall and makes the trauma the foundation for all his current creative work. “The Characteristics of C-Minor” (dir. J. Ollie Lucks, Max Bellamy) portrays a musician who builds an enchanting musical career on his difficult experience of growing up in isolation. The closing film of the festival, “Dancing With Maria” (dir. Ivan Gergolet), is about a 90 year old Argentinian dancer Maria Flux, still giving dance lessons in her studio in Buenos Aires. She accepts all kinds of people in her classes and gives everybody the possibility to develop their own way of expressing themselves. She draws out talent from the dancers of all ages and conditions. Maria and her students take part in one of the most ancient human struggles: the battle of human beings against their limits. Also Maria is pushing her old body to the limits, to overcome it and continue dancing. Overcoming one’s limits and vulnerability has an important role in creativity. Vulnerability is both the birthplace and tool of creativity. 

Contemporary society is obsessed in finding ways to reject vulnerability. Invulnerability is a common feature in video games. Game architecture enables gamers to be invulnerable, but this “god-mode“ is often just temporary. World Film Festival also presents Steven Dhoedt’s film “State of Play”, which tells the story of young South-Korean video gamers. This imaginary world where professional players spend their time can been see as a ’resistance culture’, a place where humans feel the need to be at their best. This need to be unbeatable and invulnerable has been converted into an e-sport industry worth millions.  

The festival team would like to thank all the people and institutions who supported the festival this year. This involves our sponsors and cooperation partners the Estonian Film Institute and Tartu City Government. We also thank all our strategic cooperation partners, such as disain studio Fraktal, the French Cultural Institute in Estonia, Electric Theatre, Tartu New Theatre, Genialistide klubi and many others. World Film Festival is a success thanks to the dedicated festival team, including old and new volunteers, coordinators and moderators of festival programs, and especially all the festival guests.