“With each passing year, it becomes more difficult to nominate a single film that best represents Estonia,” said Edith Sepp, CEO of the Estonian Film Institute (EFI) and the leader of the independent committee that chose this year’s winner from a shortlist of 11 documentaries and feature films.
The committee also featured film critic and director of the Dark Nights Film Festival Tiina Lokk, film producer Kaupo Liiv, film journalist Johannes Lhmus, film journalist Tnu Karjatse, and director Eugen Tamberg, who has received numerous honors both locally and internationally.
A renowned basketball team’s remarkable journey through the final Soviet Union championship is the subject of the film “Kalev.” The unexpected mindsets of both allies and enemies create a backdrop for competitive basketball matches during tumultuous times.
The 1991 victory of the Estonian basketball team in the final Soviet Union Cup is the basis for the movie.
“Even though the film’s ending is predictable, the film’s climax maintains suspense. Due to the director and editor’s excellent collaboration, the major plot arcs have been resolved in an incredibly fascinating way, aided by captivating cinematography and lighting. Equally impressive is Mait Malmsten’s performance,” the committee argued in support of its decision.
“The ball game has been used to tell the story of the most significant events in Estonia’s recent history, including the regaining of independence, the progress towards it, and the problems and solutions that accompanied it.”
The selection committee stated that the filmmaker used the tale of the Kalev basketball team’s triumph in 1991 to tell a story that is still relevant today. This story is about the right to national self-determination, national pride, resistance to an imperialistic worldview, and sports as a potent universal metaphor that transcends political clichés. The team movie “Kalev” likewise explores the formation of a team and the part that each member plays in it.
One of “Kalev’s” producers, Pille Rünk, claimed that having a strong plot and a talented creative team is a matter of luck.
“I genuinely hope that the Estonian public, the film’s primary audience, will be able to see it on the big screen,” she added.
She said that great joy and a little fear went hand in hand while making the movie. “This was soon followed by a profound sense of appreciation for all the film’s creators, who contributed an exceptional amount of skill and talent. This is the tales of our small nation of Estonia – its history, identity, and (sporting) legends,” said Rünk, adding that it’s unpredictable how the film will resonate with a cross-atlantic audience. “Let’s hope the members of the American Film Academy will appreciate this coarse-luminous, made with love film.”
On September 29, “Kalev’s” world debut will be revealed.
Additionally, “Sierra,” an animated short by Sander Joone, will be up for an Oscar in the category of short animation. In the movie, a child actually turns into a tire during a rally. A personal story, motivated by the author’s relationship with his father, is hidden beneath a veil of ridiculousness.
As a result of its victories at the San Francisco and Palm Springs International ShortFest film festivals, “Sierra” is a contender for an Oscar in the Best Short Animation category.