“In the Crosswind”, the Estonian film about Soviet deportations, inspired by true events, has won the public choice award at the Gothenburg Film Festival in Sweden.
“In the Crosswind” is based on a true story when in the summer of 1941, tens of thousands of people in the Baltic states were arrested and shipped to labour camps or deported to Siberia. This Stalinist-era repression was intended to clear out “anti-Soviet elements”.
The film is a directing debut for the 27-year old Martti Helde and tells the story of an Estonian philosophy student, Erna, who is sent sent to Siberia with her daughter.
A unique visual experiment was used for filming the “In the Crosswind”. The camera glides through frozen moments in remarkably stunning tableaus and history progresses through off-screen movement. The result is a lyrical, stylistically innovative and deeply moving film about the individual caught in a historic tragedy, based on letters written by the actual Erna to her husband, whose whereabouts she didn’t know.
“What makes the film special and worthy of study in film classes is its visual language. In his impressive feature debut, Martti Helde makes the bold if controversial choice to tell the story in an unbroken series of tableaux vivants, a technique in which the actors stand stock still in dramatic poses while (in this case) the camera weaves through them,” the Hollywood Reporter said in its review of the film.
Over 10,000 people were deported from Estonia from 14-17 June 1941. Over 7,000 women, children and elderly people were among the deported. The deportations also severely affected Estonia’s Jewish population –more than 400 Estonian Jews, approximately 10% of the Estonian Jewish population, were among the deportees.
The Gothenburg International Film Festival is an annual film festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the largest film event in Scandinavia. Originally launched in 1979, the film festival now takes place over 10 days each year at the end of January and the beginning of February. Around 450 films from 60 countries are screened for over 100,000 visitors.
Cover: still from “In the Crosswind” (Allfilm)