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Take Care of Your Scar(f), Lilya! De-stigmatizing the Image of the Post-Soviet Other in Nordic Cinema

Abstract

The article discusses the cinematic representations of the post-Soviet individual in two internationally acclaimed Nordic films, namely, Aki Kaurismäki’s Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana (Pidä huivista kiinni, Tatjana, Finland/Germany, 1994) and Lukas Moodysson’s Lilya 4-Ever (Lilja 4-ever, Sweden/Denmark, 2002). The guiding premise is that the films represent cross-cultural inquiries on identity and otherness that reflect and challenge the (male) gaze of the West European North upon the (female) post-Soviet East soon after the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

Open access
What Happened to Andres Lapeteus? An Upper-Class Homo Sovieticus Caught in the Gears of Soviet Modernity

Abstract

This article looks at What Happened to Andres Lapeteus? (Mis juhtus Andres Lapeteusega, Estonia, 1966), a film that marked the directing debut of Russian-Estonian theatre and film director Grigori Kromanov, as a cinematographic narrative that follows the development of a homo sovieticus. The concept of homo sovieticus, initially simply an ironic reference to the “New Soviet Man” promoted in the official Soviet vocabulary, was elaborated in the 1980s and 1990s by several thinkers and writers from Eastern Europe into a concept allowing for a more analytical description of the bureaucratic human type that developed under the Soviet regime. The German- American philosopher Hannah Arendt in her renowned The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) found that the juridical, the moral, and the individual in a man could most effectively be killed in concentration camps. The Russian philosopher Aleksandr Zinoviev and the Polish philosopher Józef Tischner, however, have seen the homo sovieticus syndrome as resulting from spiritual rather than physical imprisonment. Predisposed by the planned Soviet economy, which did not motivate Soviet people to make any creative, intellectual, or moral efforts, homo sovieticus soon started to represent a certain official ritualistic behaviour that maintained the symbolic legitimacy of power.

What Happened to Andres Lapeteus? tells the story of an ambitious young Estonian official during Stalinist and post-Stalinist years, but does it in a novel way for its time, tackling the popular criticism of the cult of personality in the Thaw era from the viewpoint of individual responsibility. Offering a charismatic black-and-white version of the novel The Case of Andres Lapeteus (Andres Lapeteuse juhtum, 1963) by the Estonian writer Paul Kuusberg, Kromanov’s new wave film still makes us ponder the often avoided and delicate issue of the Sovietisation of the Baltic states from the inside.

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Filmipildi märksõnastamisest Eesti filmi andmebaasis. Rahvusfilmograafias / Meta-Description of Films in Estonian Film Database. National Filmography

Summary

2012 was the year of film in Estonia, when the 100th anniversary of Estonian film was celebrated. One of the most significant undertakings planned for this occasion was the creation of the Estonian film database (electronic national filmography). Performing this large-scale task was undertaken by the NPO Estonian Film Database, launched in 2007. The main objective of the undertaking was to form a complete Estonian national filmography within ten years (2007-2018) and make it available in a web environment to everyone interested, both in Estonia and abroad. The access to the database was opened in late fall, 2012 (www.efis.ee).

Together with newsreels, the number of produced items reaches over 12 000. Feature films, documentaries and popular films, anima, television, educational programmes, advertising films and newsreels form a rich collection of the life, history, culture and people of Estonia. Nearly 3 000 filmmakers and most Estonian actors and actresses have participated in creating the Estonian film heritage. Several thousand people, events, places, buildings, offices and institutions in Estonia participate in or are mentioned in the films. In addition, the films are adressing several thousand people shown or talking in films. The electronic database opens the film treasury in a summarised way, employing a variety of possibilities offered by modern electronic databases.

A metadata system and coding instructions were prepared for each film, person and institution in the extensive space of attributes with search options, which combines the interactive features of a film directory and bibliographical, biographical databases. Each film is described as thoroughly as possible. The attributes of films contain data about the subject, genre, authors, cast, production team, locations, producers, copyrights and distributors of films and about the technical parameters of films, as well as the bibliography of films, references to the reviews, articles, books published about films and the makers of films, digitised frames and pictures from films, trailers and promotional clips, scripts, memories of the makers and other interesting details. The subject content of films is indexed in 12 categories and related sub-groups and enables the search of films by plot/subject content, physical items, themes of newsreels and feature films, people, time, events, locations, building sites and institutions. In addition, films are indexed by a film-adapted UDC. As a result, more than 50 000 keywords enable thorough multi-layered content and subject search. All filmmakers are given their personal websites, which provides an overview of their creative careers and filmographies.

The electronic film database is interfaced with other similar databases at the Estonian Public Broadcasting, film archive of the National Archives, National Library and the Baltic Film and Media School of the Tallinn University. The web interface offers the possibility to enter with an ID-card and allows advance into several digital storages, where it is possible to view the films produced and purchase them for streaming. The filmography is interfaced with social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and is aiming the possibility to interlink it with the European Film Gateway in the future, thus offering access to a digitised film treasury through Europeana. The database is aimed at film professionals, teachers, students, researchers and the general public as the target audience.

Among others, the key issues of cultural databases draw on the approaches and solutions for information retrieval and are relying in particular on the principles of conceptual (intellectual) subject indexing of audiovisual artefacts. Inspired by classical works of Panofsky, Shatford, Turner and others regarding image description, analysis and interpretation the article covers some main issues regarding options for a multifunctional film indexing metadata. The text tackles different aspects of the description of moving images for public needs in general and also describes the specific details of the system, developed for deep keywording of Estonian films. The rationale, limits and disputable issues as well as our experience and basic suggestions for professional indexers who are undertaking these kind of tasks are also revealed.

Open access
How Movies Influence Our Dietary Behaviour?

Abstract

Movies include a shockingly high number of products - it is almost impossible to have a movie with no brand exposure at all. As entertainment fills a large part of our lives, product placements have invaded our social sphere more than we can imagine. Just as for the tobacco industry, until something is done to reduce and eliminate the images of unhealthy dietary behaviour on film, movies will remain one of the most powerful forces in the world promoting unhealthy sugary diets and serving the industry’s financial interests. The unhealthy lifestyle that is portrayed on the screens through extensive consumption of food items especially high in sugars, and how this can influence people’s dietary behaviour, is the main concern and discussion for this article. Thus, this article tries to give an overview of the current situation and how exactly it is possible for movies to influence the things we eat. Just as the tobacco industry has had a long history of working to influence Hollywood, the sugar industry will most probably face the same future. And this is not what films should be about.

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Introduction
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Politics of Imperceptibility: Philosophy, Post-Feminism and New Media Arts

Abstract

The essay discusses Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of becoming-imperceptible and raises the question to what extent it can be interpreted in terms of feminist politics and seen as a specific strategy for new media arts. Although the notion of becoming-imperceptible was condemned by second wave feminists, recent post-feminists representing the third wave argue not for politics of visibility but for politics of invisibility. Examining the practices of Lithuanian feminist media artists, the essay argues that becoming-imperceptible in new media arts means not an escape from visibility or a drive toward annihilation but a new conceptual strategy: becoming-imperceptible creates the potential for social and political change. This new conceptual strategy can be related to the new quality of the image: in this regard there is a close affinity between Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of becoming-imperceptible and the notion of the crystalline image which appears in Deleuze’s film theory: both notions engender duration, temporality and qualitative change. Therefore the essay claims that the crystalline image does not represent the world but recreates this world through multiple, changing and virtual images.

Open access