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BLACK NIGHTS 2021 Competition

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival announces the first six titles in its Official Selection


- The 25th edition of the Estonian festival, unspooling from 12-28 November, will include the world premieres of works by European directors Kristijonas Vildžiūna, György Pálfi and Aku Louhimies

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival announces the first six titles in its Official Selection
The Wait by Aku Louhimies

The 25th edition of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, unspooling from 12-28 November this year, has just announced the first six titles in its Official Selection. Once again, the festival selection is set to celebrate comebacks by established directors as well as works by emerging talents from all corners of the cinematic world.

The first of the six world premieres announced today is Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s Herd Immunity. The helmer returns to the Black Nights Official Selection for the second year running, after premiering Ulbolsyn [+see also:
film profile
in 2020 and presenting Yellow Cat [+see also:
film review
film profile
at last year’s Venice Film Festival. The story of his new effort revolves around a Hawaiian-shirted, often-dancing countryside cop who ambles through a comic and contemporary odyssey of COVID-19 bureaucracy, juggling an improbable number of mobile-phone-based bribes on his way to perhaps patching things up with his ex-wife, who is now married to his boss.

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The second world premiere is that of a Lithuanian-Latvian-Estonian co-production, Kristijonas Vildžiūnas’ fifth feature, Songs for a Fox. The feature (see the news) has been described as “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”.

The third title, György Pálfi’s Perpetuity, was apparently partly filmed through a sniper rifle and is set in a booze-fuelled, Hungarian-speaking post-apocalyptic landscape replete with downed airliners and a shop that only sells pálinka. In particular, 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.

Meanwhile, Abed Abest’s second feature, Killing the Eunuch Khan, will throw viewers back into the dusty 1980s, at the height of the Iran-Iraq war. It promises to be “a meditation on the cycles of violence and war, and their infectious qualities”, wherein “clean, architectural sets are awash with rivers of blood, as historical grievances are played back like excerpts from a documentary”.

The fifth announced title is Jun Lana’s Big Night. Incorrectly implicated in the Philippines’ war on drugs (and likely in sudden and serious danger), the central, determined and resourceful, hairdresser spends the titular “big night” chasing leads (all oversize characters) to clear his name, through bustling markets and small, sticky apartments. Notably, Lana picked up the Best Director Award at Tallinn Black Nights in 2019 for Kalel, 15.

The last film in this first batch of titles, Aku Louhimies’ certified carbon-negative feature The Wait, locks down its audience in what seems to be a rural island idyll: all crayfish parties and skinny dipping. Until the arrival of one old, mutual friend pulls everything out of balance and into a sensual, adult exploration of desire, longing and honesty.

Commenting on this year’s gathering, festival director Tiina Lokk said: “We have seen strong festival line-ups 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.” Speaking about the continuous challenges posed by the pandemic, she added: “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, but with the strong belief that these important films deserve to be seen on the big screen.”

Here is the list of the six titles selected so far:


Herd Immunity - Adilkhan Yerzhanov
Songs for a Fox - Kristijonas Vildžiūnas
Perpetuity - György Pálfi
Killing the Eunuch Khan - Abed Abest
Big Night - Jun Lana
The Wait - Aku Louhimies

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