An Estonian film among the Guardian’s great documentaries about theatre

The Guardian, a British media outlet, included the Estonian documentary, “A Year Full of Drama”, among the “10 great documentaries about theatre” that “capture the power of plays”.

The documentary follows Alissiya – a young girl from Estonia’s Russian minority, who wins a job to watch every Estonian theatre show from 2018 – over 200 performances in 365 days.

“What if someone who had never been to the theatre was paid to watch – and write about – every new production in their country over an entire year? That’s the position in which Alissiya finds herself in Marta Pulk’s 2019 film which follows her to venues all around Estonia as she participates in an experiment to determine what a huge dose of art does to an individual,” the Guardian said of the Estonian documentary.

“Alissiya finds herself alternately frustrated, upset, enthralled and inspired by the whopping 224 productions she crams in. At times we fear for her wellbeing as she considers her place in the world with remarkable frankness. Her experiences in the stalls are relatable: from the glumness of sitting through a comedy that everyone but you finds funny to the jolt you get from seeing a character whose personal dilemmas mirror your own. A gripping individual story and an insightful portrait of a country and its theatre,” the paper said.

“A Year Full of Drama” created a lot of interest in Estonia when it premiered in October 2019 – not merely because of its theatre-focused theme, but also because Alissiya came from a Russian-speaking family in Estonia and shed more light into the everyday lives of the people belonging to the country’s most sizable minority.

A still from “A Year Full of Drama”.

The then 21-year Alissiya was chosen from 450 job applicants and she previously knew nothing about Estonian performing arts or actors – nor had she ever been to any of the theatres. In addition to be featured in the documentary, she also kept a blog of her impressions and experience of attending the plays.

The Guardian was founded in Manchester in 1821. According to Similarweb’s web analytics, the Guardian’s web edition is the 17th most-read media outlet in the world.

Cover: A still from “A Year Full of Drama”.

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