GENTLE TALLINN

Year:
2002
Length: 89 min
Copyright: Alberto Cima

Direction, screenplay, cinematography and editing: Alberto Cima
with the collaboration of Paola Ratti. Digital Editing Consultant: Matteo Cima.
Live sounds
English French Italian Subtitles

Cast:
Ain Talihärm, Vello Salo, Anto Pett, Ursula Saal, Tamara Harutyunyan, Kati Lehemets, Hannes Kivi, Lagle Parek, Arne Vaik, Maria Talihärm, Erki Evestus, Boris Kivi, Enn Suve.

Subject:

The city of Tallinn, capital of Estonia, offers the rare possibility of observing freely, without tricks of the eye nor violence. People welcome the watching eye naturally, they do not feel offended nor do they withdraw, they participate willingly, discreetly. In every place: in bars, on streetcars, along the street. And they never cease to convey messages, even when their voice goes off and they start to stare into space with embarrassment. All the images of “Gentle Tallinn” belong to reality as do its sounds. Caught in a relationship of tenderness with every living being and thing, in common fate. With eyes wide open and the sweetness of temporary enchantments.

Review:

Ermanno Comuzio
An atypical but fertile proposal that of Lab80 for its Cineforum della Libertà, with the screening of the documentary film Gentle Tallinn of the Bergamo film-maker Alberto Cima who was welcomed by the warm reception of a vast audience.
Gentle Tallinn, capital city of Estonia, gentle since it is seen softly in a documentary which is watched with the same interest of a fiction film; it arouses passion and it convinces with the fascination of true things, and simultaneously it is enthralling with its brilliant use of the camera and modern, penetrating sense of reportage cinema.
Thus Cima, (famous author of films, among others, on the Imagna Valley, between the lyrical and the dialectic) went to Estonia, lived with the people, rode on their means of transportation, went to the public premises, entered private homes, and recorded a reality which is both “exotic” if compared to our places and substantially the same, in our feelings, fears, expectations, to our reality. A hymn, nonetheless, to a Country with an ancient civilization, which has been occupied by various rulers (the Swedish, the Germans, the Russians), which adores and respects nature, which maintains its heritage and traditions even if intending to enter the concert of modern Europe.
The film-maker doesn’t shoot a didactical film on this country, he doesn’t list out data and figures nor show views and landscapes, but according to his “gentle” approach, he mingles impressions he has perceived from the trip in a rhapsodic travelogue, where he alternates the calm representation of the places and of the people with particulars edited in rapid rhythm, always witnessing a secure taste and a “knowledge of seeing” he skillfully transmits to the viewer.
The people of everyday life. People are the privileged interlocutors: here the author does the exact opposite of the typical TV interviewers, he leaves time and space to the person in the shot and has him/her speak (in Estonian, in Russian, in English, with subtitles or without – and then the language is like music). Sometimes, the way in which the camera doesn’t let go of its interlocutor appears unique, even if he or she is through talking, the camera lens lingers on, ready to see unplanned, unforeseen circumstances: eyes and attention are always alert, always wide open onto any possible event.
The places are those of the capital (with a city centre that takes our breath away for its beauty), of the countryside and of Lake Peipus (a name that makes cinephiles palpitate: here, on the glazed lake, Aleksander Nevskij wins against the Teutonic Knights, as Eisenstein showed us).
The portrait of a Northern European country, therefore, which presents an enviable civilization, as seen by the virgin eye kept wide open on the truth, skillfully presented according to the dictates of a disenchanted and adaptable idea of cinema.

Angelo Signorelli
With this work Cima demonstrates for the nth time the maturity obtained in using the camera and in looking at reality. The film is the story of a trip to Estonia, which little by little becomes a trial for life and knowledge, throughout the representation of a surprising human environment for spontaneity and richness of life.

Bruno Talpo

In Gentle Tallinn, the male figures are beautiful, but especially the female figures are of great gracefulness. Sound is extraordinary, the virtual sound of words, rendered mysterious when left non translated by the usual multilingualism, and even more apodictic in the subtitles, associated to the real sound of music, sung, performed with the saxophone, at the piano, or danced: the amplified and evocative resounding of the ballet steps and twirling on the wooden flooring, the repeated exercises.
And the transfers on trembling streetcars and buses, the common action of swallowing quick lunches in a bar, tension and embarrassed silence of the people closely shot in never ending, aware close-ups.
The wonderful voice of a priest in the perimeter of a sixteenth century basilica with the sky as a roof, place of secular mysteries. And the painter who paints “bad” pictures with creatures similar to those of “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Bosch, portrayed in a sauna. And the piano player, who after having performed pieces of classical music, gives his utmost in a jubilation of dodecaphonic-timbre chords. And the old lady farmer who breeds pigs. And the man who hangs up the small pictures of his ancestors with an action of poverty…
Everything takes us among lines of trees rustled with rapid movements to the sea: to the noise (which evokes memories of the smell of saltness) and to the splashing of the breaking waves, dark blue and immaterial, as in Monet’s paintings.
The place of traveling, of intense encounters, of sincere receptions, of a library where learning takes place and it is compulsory to whisper, of cities where there is no siege (as yet) of traffic jams and spaces are still on a human scale and artifacts are still on a hand scale and walking along the streets is measured in footsteps.
Tallinn, a place of integral nature, where the lightness of not being artificial belongs to sensitivity (and maybe also to poverty) and to inner richness.
Without a plot, approaching unforeseen events with “cultural virginity”, shooting has the zest of a “candid camera”, were it not for the visual culture one perceives and is transmitted in shots, in the discerning editing, in the rigorously rhythmic camera movements and in the environmental and architectonic details, in the particulars of still lives and moving ones…
So, a true film, which describes situations which are anthropologically and culturally different from ours, but which are as we would have liked our future mankind to be.