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Abstract

Drawing on a few concepts of postcolonialism, including Edward Said’s idea of Orientalism and Stuart Hall’s theory on representation, this article explores the representations of Estonian culture and language in two films by Ingmar Bergman, This Can’t Happen Here (Sånt händer inte här, Sweden, 1950; also known as High Tension) and The Silence (Tystnaden, Sweden, 1963). Through a descriptive textual analysis of the Estonian representational elements in these films, the article suggests that Bergman uses Estonian language and culture to establish a certain kind of Otherness, marking a cultural hegemony and exotifying a new foreign element in post-war Sweden. An additional aim of the article is to present and contextualise the exiled Estonian actors that starred in This Can’t Happen Here, as this has not been done in a scholarly context, and since the film ended up being their only cinematic appearance in their new adopted country.

Abstract

Initially produced in 1968 as a three-part TV miniseries, and restored and re-edited in 2008 as a feature-length film, Dark Windows (Pimedad aknad, Tõnis Kask, Estonia) explores interpersonal relations and everyday life in September 1944, during the last days of Estonia’s occupation by Nazi Germany. The story focuses on two young women and the struggles they face in making moral choices and falling in love with righteous men. The one who slips up and falls in love with a Nazi is condemned and made to feel responsible for the national decay. This article explores how the category of gender becomes a marker in the way the film reconstructs and reconstitutes the images of ‘us’ and ‘them’. The article also discusses the re-appropriation process and analyses how re-editing relates to remembering of not only the filmmaking process and the wartime occupation, but also the Estonian women and how the ones who ‘slipped up’ are later reintegrated into the national narrative. Ultimately, the article seeks to understand how this film from the Soviet era is remembered as it becomes a part of Estonian national filmography.

Abstract

This article presents the results of a multi-method study carried out by the Tallinn University Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture (MEDIT). The aim of this study was to investigate how international film professionals perceive the Estonian film industry; what image they have of Estonian film, and how they envision or have experienced Estonia as a destination for production and collaboration. The results of the study indicate that the skills of Estonian filmmakers are increasingly internationally renowned and valued among foreign professionals. At the same time, however, awareness of Estonian film and its nature remains ambiguous to most international film professionals. While seeing Estonia as a Baltic country rather than a Nordic one, the professionals suggested setting up a Baltic film fund and developing a Baltic brand in order to raise international recognition of local film production.

Abstract

The article deals with the extradition of Baltic soldiers from Sweden in 1946 as represented in Per Olov Enquist’s novel The Legionnaires: A Documentary Novel (Legionärerna. En roman om baltutlämningen, 1968) and Johan Bergenstråhle’s film A Baltic Tragedy (Baltutlämningen. En film om ett politiskt beslut Sverige 1945, Sweden, 1970). The theoretical framework is taken from trauma studies and its equivalent within film studies, where trauma is seen as a repeated occurrence of a past event. In this regard, literature and moving images become the means of reaching the traumatic event, a way to relive it. What separates the extradition of the Baltic soldiers from other traumas, such as the Holocaust, is that it functions as a guilt complex related to the failure to prevent the tragedy, which is connected to Sweden’s position of neutrality during World War II and the appeasement of all the warring nations. It is argued that this is a collective trauma created by Enquist’s novel, which blew it into national proportions. However, Bergenstråhle’s film changes the focus of the trauma by downplaying the bad conscience of the Swedes. In this way, the film aims to create new witnesses to the extradition affair. The analysis looks at the reception of both the novel and film in order to explain the two different approaches to the historical event, as well as the two different time periods in which they were produced. The authors argue that the two years that separate the appearance of the novel and the film explain the swing undergone by the political mood of the late 1960s towards a deflated revolution of the early 1970s, when the film arrived on screens nationwide. However, in terms of creating witnesses to the traumatic event, the book and film manage to stir public opinion to the extent that the trauma changes from being slowly effacing to being collectively ‘experienced’ through remembrance. The paradox is that, while the novel still functions as a vivid reminder of the painful aftermath caused by Swedish neutrality during World War II, the film is almost completely forgotten today. The film’s mode of attacking the viewers with an I-witness account, the juxtaposition and misconduct led to a rejection of the narrative by Swedish audiences.

Abstract

Following the recent death of Andrzej Wajda, a reconsideration of his work is timely, and all the more so because he provides a reference point for many East Central European cinéastes. Thus this article uses his work as a main switching point between meditations on the issues his films raise. It theorises the status accorded History in them, and in Marxism in general, in relation to Walter Benjamin’s work on allegory and ruin, as well as to questions of characterisation. Also considered is the degree and nature of existentialism’s influence on this cinema, with blockages of choice foregrounded as necessarily entailing a thematics of doubling, contradiction and masking, and a reworking of the meaning of accusations of ‘treachery’ that have been a leitmotif of oppressed cultures, particularly when – as in cinema – access to the means of production depends on real or apparent collaboration with state authorities. The particular meaning of certain delays in production will also be considered, as will certain figures from the Polish culture (this writer’s primary specialisation) with an obvious ‘Baltic connection’, i.e. a Lithuanian origin, such as Tadeusz Konwicki and Czesław Miłosz. The thematics of doubling will finally be related to notions of ruination and of a filmic language adequate to it, which it will be argued may be seen prototypically in ‘the Zone’, Chris Marker’s name for a particular method of image-presentation, named in homage to that great Soviet film shot in Estonia, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (Сталкер, Russia, 1979). To revert to the title of Wajda’s final film Afterimage (Powidoki, Poland, 2016), and invoke Miłosz also, the Zone may be called the native realm, not only melancholic but also surprisingly utopian, of the after-image that is the ruin.

Abstract

This article is devoted to the theme of women and war in the films of Jānis Streičs, possibly the most influential Latvian film director. In the course of his career, which spanned nearly 50 years, Streičs made films that were popular in Latvia, as well as throughout the Soviet Union. He is one of the few Latvian film directors who managed to continue a comparatively stable career in the newly reindependent Republic of Latvia. Streičs skilfully used the canonised means of expression of classical cinema and superficially fulfilled the demands of socialist realism to provide appealing and life-asserting narratives for the audiences. Being a full-time film director at Riga Film Studio, and gradually becoming a master of the studio system, Jānis Streičs managed to subordinate the system to his own needs, outgrowing it and becoming an auteur with an idiosyncratic style and consistently developed topics.1 The most expressive elements of his visual style can be found in his war films, which are presented as women’s reflections on war.

In this article, Streičs’ oeuvre in its entirety provides the background for an analysis of two of his innovative war films. Meetings on the Milky Way (Tikšanās uz Piena ceļa, Latvia, 1985) rejects the classical narrative structure, instead offering fragmentary war episodes that were united by two elements – the road and women. In Carmen Horrendum (Latvia, 1989) Streičs uses an even more complicated structure that combines reality, visions and dreams. After watching this film, the only conclusion we can come to with certainty is that war does not have a woman’s face and, in general, war has no traces of humanity.

The aim of this article is to demonstrate how World War II, a theme stringently controlled by Soviet ideology, provided the impetus for a search for an innovative film language.

Abstract

Today, opera houses are confronted by new (global) digital media offers that enable people to remain outside the opera house while attending a live-opera, e.g. via livestreamed opera performances in the cinema. This is a challenge for media managers in these fields because they need to find new ways to work with these new opportunities. Within a cultural marketing context, branding is highly relevant. Based on the brand image approach by Kevin Lane Keller (1993), we use a complex qualitative-quantitative study in order to investigate if, and how, the brand images of live-opera performances and live-streamed operas differ between countries and cultural contexts. By comparing Estonia and Germany, we found that the perception of live-opera is rather a global phenomenon with only slight differences. Furthermore, the ‘classical’ opera performance in an opera house is still preferred, with a corresponding willingness to pay, while the live-streamed opera offer may provide a modern touch. The study may help media managers in adapting their brand management to include new digital product offers and to find targeted differentiation strategies for increasingly competitive markets.

Abstract

Stemming from the concept of active audiences and from Henry Jenkins’ (2006) idea of participatory culture as the driving force behind the transformation of public service broadcasting into agencies of public service media (Bardoel, Ferrell Lowe 2007), this empirical study explores the attitude and behaviour of the audiences of two crossmedia projects, produced by the public service media of Finland (YLE) and Estonia (ERR). This empirical study aims to explore the behaviour, wants and needs of the audiences of cross-media productions and to shed some light on the conditions that support the dynamic switching of the engagement with cross-media. The study’s results suggest that audiences are neither passive nor active, but switch from one mode to another. The findings demonstrate that audience dynamism is circumstantial and cannot be assumed. Thus, thinking about active audiences and participation as the lymph of public service media becomes problematic, especially when broadcasters seek generalised production practices. This work demonstrates how television networks in general cannot be participatory, and instead, how cross-media can work as a vehicle of micro participation through small acts of audience engagement (Kleut et al. 2017).

Abstract

This article explores whether a specifically regional quality can be identified in the following Finnish and Estonian multi-protagonist/network narrative films: Aku Louhimies’ Frozen Land (Paha maa, Finland, 2005) and Veiko Õunpuu’s Autumn Ball (Sügisball, Estonia, 2007). The article begins by providing an overview of the discussion regarding multi-protagonist films - a film form in which several lead characters are commonly connected via accidental encounters. Thereafter, an examination is made of how the form’s widely recognised generic qualities are represented in the Northern and Eastern European examples. As an overview of the discourse illustrates, multi-protagonist film is mainly interested in urban spatiality, contingency and human interconnectedness. It is also shown that these examples from the cinemas of small nations follow global trends rather closely. At the same time, Frozen Land and Autumn Ball can be seen as representing a specifically regional sensibility that is not only interesting in its own right, but which can also be understood as directly influencing the character-action.