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Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival announces the full lineup of the Official Selection

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival unveils the lineup of the Official Selection - Competition of it’s 23rd edition, adding seven world, five international and one European premiere to the previously announced eight films.

The programme, diverse, both in terms of genre and geography, covers five continents, with films from Northern And Southern America, Asia, Europe and Africa added in the selection. Three of the directors, while making their feature debuts, are seasoned as TV and stage directors. 

Festival director and head of programme, Mrs Tiina Lokk shared her excitement over the selection commenting: ‘From sweeping historical dramas and artsy genre exercises to author drama in its purest form, we can say that this is a selection that really encapsulates what we are after with our selection philosophy - fresh takes on old tropes, creative voices breaking apart from the traditions of their geographical context, mixed with audience and critic-pleasing quality. In the midst of it all, a filmmaker who has been one of my personal heroes since his breakout films in the ’90s.”

The Official Selection - competition has been run in its present form since the festival received it’s ‘A-category’ status from FIAPF in 2014. Since then the programme has been a competition programme without any geographic restrictions, screening world, international or European premieres of established filmmakers that the festival’s programming team wishes to highlight for its audience, film critics and the international film industry.
The programme will be overseen by an international jury of film industry professionals, that will be announced in November. They will hand out the following prizes: Grand Prix for the Best Film (grant of 10 000 euros from the City of Tallinn, shared by the Director and Producer); Best Director (grant of 5000 euros); Best Script; Best Actress; Best Actor; Best Cinematographer (grant of 1000 euros from Angel Films); Best Music.

The first screenings of the Official Selection will run between the 20th and 29th of November. 



Dead Volume 
Director and actor Kauê Telloli’s second film is a psychological drama that gradually builds tension as it unfolds the motifs and secrets of its protagonists. Taking place over a short span of time, a young teacher tries to solve the strange case of a mute student, while being accused by the parents of mishandling her duties. The film will have its world premiere in Tallinn.

Drowsy City
A young man works as a slaughterman living in an abandoned building in the heart of a bustling city. One day, three strange gangsters come to hide in his building, forcing the man to feed and accommodate them and their unexpected guest. Shooting in a naturalistic style without any censorship of violence, director Dung Luong Dinh walks a different path altogether with his second feature film. His previous film Father and Son screened at numerous festivals all over the world, including a special screening at Black Nights in 2017. Drowsy City will have its world premiere in Tallinn.

In the Strange Pursuit of Laura Durand
As his second feature film director Dimitris Bavellas presents the world premiere of a comedic feel-good road movie about two friends living in a small apartment secluded from society put on the road with a mission to find their platonic love interest Laura Durand, a pornstar of the 90’s, who mysteriously disappeared a couple of years ago. Bavellas’ first film Runaway Day screened at Sarajevo IFF, Edinburgh IFF and over 30 other festivals around the world.         

Having been told to keep secrets about his mother’s affair with a married man, his sister’s abortion and the fact that his father is a priest, 15-year-old Kalel thinks being diagnosed with HIV will be just another secret that he has to keep. After years of research and interviews, what started out as a mere tale of secrets and scandal became an examination of youth culture, particularly young people in peril, and a society that cares so little about them for director Jun Robles. His previous films have won awards at some of the major Asian festivals and ceremonies like Tokyo, Kerala and the Asian Film Awards, and have screened at well-known festivals in other parts of the world such as Toronto IFF and New York IFF. Kalel, 15 will have its world premiere in Tallinn.

Twin brothers Candido and Braulio are growing up near the border of Haiti in the Dominican Republic, with one of them helping their grandfather to sell coal in the border market of Malpaso and the other leading a lonely existence since he needs to stay home secluded due to his albinism. Their world is turned upside down by a tragic life-event. Presenting the world premiere of his third feature in Tallinn, director Héctor Valdez’s previous film Melocotones, was a Yellow Robin nominee at the IFFR-Curaçao, screened at the Montreal World Film Festival and won the Film of the Festival award at the Raindance FF.

Man From Beirut
Director and co-writer Christoph Gampl presents the world premiere of his second feature film, a stylised crossover on the border of genre and arthouse set in a ‘neo-noir’ Berlin. Raising questions about cultural, national and moral identity, the story centres on a blind Lebanese contract killer Momo, who suddenly grows a conscience refusing to kill a young girl. Despite shooting on a low budget, Gampl managed to attract well-known actors Susanne Wuest (Goodnight Mommy, Sunset) and Blerim Destani (Get Low, The Captain) to his project. His first film Antman (2002) screened at the Berlinale. He was the associate producer of A Thought of Ecstasy, the German-US production that had its world premiere in the Official Selection of Black Nights in 2017.

The Flying Circus
Set in Kosovo on the verge of war, the Dodona Theatre, the last remaining public institution functioning, is closed down by Serbian authorities. The theatre’s play “The Flying Circus”, inspired by Monty Python, is invited to neighbouring Albania for a theatre festival. Travelling to Albania at this time is a great danger, so the actors decide not to go. Having learned the news that Michael Palin of Monty Python will be in Albania to film his documentary at the same time, the actors decide to try their luck of fulfilling their dream to meet their idol. 

Director Fatos Berisha is a film, television and theatre director, whose eventful career includes the co-founding of the Dodona Theatre in Exile during the Kosovo war, while he was a refugee in Macedonia. He directed a play for children with Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave acting as a guest star,  that was performed for Kosovar children at refugee camps in Macedonia.

Fiela’ Child
Southern Africa, 1865. A mixed-race woman living in the arid Karoo takes in a lost white child and raises him as her own. Nine years later, the boy is removed and forced to live in the Knysna Forest with a family of woodcutters who claim that he is theirs. Separated by law and geography, Fiela and Benjamin spend a decade trying to find each other while simultaneously coming to terms with their individual identities. Presenting the film’s international premiere in Tallinn, director Bret Michael Innes previous film Sink screened and won awards at several festivals all over the world, including Kerala IFF, Stockholm IFF and Mexico IFF . 

Golden Voices
Victor and Raya Frenkel were the golden voices of Soviet film dubbing for decades, working on all the classics that passed the Iron Curtain from the West. In 1990, with the collapse of Soviet Union, the Frenkels decided to emigrate to Israel, just like hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews at the time. As there’s no need in Israel for Russian speaking dubbing artists their attempts to use their talent will cause bizarre and unexpected events, leading to amusing, painful, and absurd experiences, while nostalgically looking back at some of the most memorable chapters in the history of cinema. Director Evgeny Ruman has made four feature films previously, with The Man in the Wall (2015) screening at several international film festivals, Rotterdam IFF among them.

Guided by her grandfather's WWII-era diary, the emotionally struggling teenager, Sora, searches for a mysterious trove in the wilderness of her hometown, as another party generates an interest in the artefacts. Meanwhile, a mysterious mute and backwards-walking homeless man wanders into town who might become the catalyst to put her shattered relationship with her father back together. Born in Northern India, director Anshul Chauhan has pursued a career as an animator in Tokyo, while also making live-action films on the side, finishing his first feature Bad Poetry Tokyo in 2017. Kontora is his second feature film.

Told with emotional lavishness and infusing some theatrical expressionism with that of film, second-time director Álvaro Curiel de Icaza presents the story of Belén, a street artist and professional beggar who encounters Ernesto, an ambitious foreign actor and stage director desperately looking for an opportunity in Mexico City. Ernesto is soon drawn into the world of Belén, who is controlled by a quasi mobster David Torrico who runs a professional network of street beggars. De Icaza’s first film Acorazado (2010) won him awards at festivals like Morelia IFF and Lleida Latin-American FF. Marionette recently won the FIPRESCI prize at the Guadalajara IFF.

UK Director Gerard Johnson presents the international premiere of his psychological thriller of a man trying to get his life back into order by getting physically into shape. This leads to him getting together with an intimidating, yet effective gym teacher Terry, who will play a bigger role in Simon’s life than he could ever foresee or desire. Director Gerard Johnson has won two awards at Sitges for previous films Hyena (2014) and Tony (2009), while also screening at festivals like Tribeca, Edinburgh IFF and Les Arc EFF.

The Coldest Game
During the Cold War, the U.S. Secret Service abducts a brilliant mathematician to have him play a chess match against a Soviet grandmaster. However, the international tournament in the Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science turns out to be a mere cover for a spy game in which saving humankind from a nuclear apocalypse is at stake. Having worked previously as a TV series director, cinematographer and scriptwriter, director Łukasz Kośmicki presents his crafty feature debut, with Bill Pullmann playing the protagonist.


Dead Volume (Volume Morto), 2019, Brazil, director: Kauê Telloli | World premiere
Drowsy City, 2019, Vietnam, director: Dung Luong Dinh | World premiere
Fiela’s Child (Fiela se Kind), 2019, South Africa, director: Brett Michael Innes | International premiere
Golden Voices, 2019, Israel, director: Evgeny Ruman | International premiere
In the Strange Pursuit of Laura Durand, 2019, Greece director: Dimitris Bavellas | World premiere
Kalel,15, 2019, Philippines, director: Jun Robles Jana | World premiere
Kontora, 2019, Japan, director: Anshul Chauhan | European premiere
Malpaso, 2019, Dominican Republic, director: Héctor M. Valdez | World premiere
Man From Beirut, 2019, Germany, director: Christoph Gampl | World premiere
Marionette (Marioneta), 2019, Mexico, director: Álvaro Curiel de Icaza | International premiere
Muscle, 2019, UK, director: Gerard Johnson | International premiere
The Coldest Game, 2019, Poland, director: Łukasz Kośmicki | International premiere
The Flying Circus (Cirku Fluturues), 2019, Albania / Kosovo, director: Fatos Berisha | World premiere

Previously announced films

Coming Home Again, 2019, USA / South Korea, director:  Wayne Wang | European premiere
Girl With No Mouth, 2019, Turkey, director: Can Evrenol | European premiere
Gutterbee, 2019, Denmark, director: Ulrich Thomsen | European premiere
Gypsy Queen, 2019 Germany / Austria, director: Hüseyin Tabak | International premiere
Lost Lotus, 2019, China / Netherlands, director LIU Shu | World premiere
Monster, 2019, Ireland, director: Tom Sullivan | World premiere
Through Black Glass, 2019, Russia, director: Konstantin Lopushansky | International premiere
When the Moon Was Full, 2019, Iran, director: Narges Abyar | International premiere




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About Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Started in 1997, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has grown into one of the biggest film festivals in Northern Europe and busiest regional industry platforms, hosting more than 1000 guests and industry delegates and over 160 journalists. The festival screens around 250 features and more than 300 shorts and animations and sees an attendance of 80 000 people annually. In 2017 the festival was covered in 71 languages with a potential global media audience of over 1.1 billion people.

As of 2014 the festival holds the FIAPF accreditation for holding an international competition programme which puts the festival into the so- called A-category of film festivals, alongside other 14 festivals in the world (including Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, Shanghai, Tokyo etc).  

Black Nights has an umbrella structure with two sub-festivals PÖFF Shorts and youth and children's film festival Just Film taking place concurrently with the main festival,
two off-season festivals - Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival and Tartu Love Film Festival - and a fully-fledged film industry platform Industry@Tallinn, organised jointly with the Baltic Event Co-production market.

Black Nights Film Festival 16 Nov - 2 Dec
PÖFF Shorts 20 Nov - 25 Nov
Just Film 16 Nov - 2 Dec
Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event 26 Nov - 30 Nov



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