The EstDocs film festival returns to Toronto

EstDocs, the film festival featuring top documentary filmmaking talent from Estonia and around the world, offers screenings in the expat-heavy city of Toronto.

For already the twelfth year in a row, Toronto is hosting EstDocs – an audience festival and juried competition featuring films that have a connection to Estonia.

The roster of documentary makers featured in the festival is very diverse – from experienced directors to aspiring ones, both from Estonia and the Estonian expat community around the world.

From the political undertones to animation

Traditionally, the featured films have provided a 360-degree perspective on the Estonian history, politics, arts, culture and social aspects. However, as a sign of turbulent times in the world and a more assertive Russia, this year’s festival will kick off on 4 November with Juris Pakalniņš’ film, “The Master Plan”, where the Latvian director investigates the Kremlin’s sophisticated propaganda engine and the Baltic countries’ political defiance in the face of the new Russian imperialism.

Priit Tender, an Estonian animator, will keep the guests entertained with a talk on the animation traditions of Estonia and screen his films, “The Maggot Feeder”, “The House of Unconsciousness” and “Bird Flu”.

“Empty Space”, an animation by Ülo Pikkov, is based on a true story of a father’s longing for his daughter. The dollhouse, used for the film, will be presented, too.

Jaak Kilmi’s film, “Out of Fashion”, tells a story of Reet Aus, an Estonian fashion designer who has led a “trash to trend” fashion approach by “up-cycling” materials others throw away. Aus will also attend the pop-up fashion show at the festival.

Land of soul

“Unt’s Hour”, a debut feature by the Estonian actress, Maria Avdyushko, takes the film-goers to the 1960s Estonian literary and theatre scene by portraying the legendary writer and stage director, the late Mati Unt.

Liina Paakspuu’s “Heart of a Wolf” follows Nordic folk metal band Metsatöll that famously infuses traditional music with modern rock.

Kullar Viimne and Erik Norkroos’ “Land of Soul” features Tõnis Mägi, one of the most influential and remarkable names in Estonian rock music, whose song, “Koit”, became one of the anthems of the Singing Revolution.

The festival concludes with Mariann Kõrver and Jaan Tootsen’s “Vigala Sass – Last Recordings”, a film exploring the shaman healer, Vigala Sass, and his profound knowledge of medicinal herbs.

The EstDocs Film Festival runs in Toronto from 4-8 November.

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Cover: The EstDocs festival poster for 2016. Courtesy of EstDocs.

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