Monuments serve the purpose to establish memory and create identity. Most monuments erected during the Soviet regime were taken away after Estonia regained its independence in 1991. The Bronze Soldier Alyosha, located in the center of Tallinn, remained in its place. For Estonian nationalists this monument was the symbol for Soviet occupation and marked the beginning of Stalinist repressions. However, for many Russians the monument was one of the few remaning symbols that connected them to Russia and Russian identity. Alyosha brings us the people who gathered to the Bronze Soldier in 2005-2007 and whose behaviour created a new line in our cultural memory. What mattered were the rituals around the monument, not the monument itself.
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Once a month a Hostess invites 5-6 elderly ladies over for a memorable presentation of the cleansing agents. Usually one would clean the house before the Guests come, but this Hostess prepares quite a few "dirty spots" for the guests, only to show them the efficiency of the agents during the presentation.
The journalists write, the politicians tremble, the Estonians curse and the Russians despise and secret service watches. All of this is caused by Esja Sur, a 68 year old Russian citizen and resident of Sillamäe whose retirement is spent organizing protests, meetings and demonstrations. The story, unfolding in Estonian reality, presents the life and destiny of a woman always throwing herself into battle against someone or something. The hero of the film is surrounded by colorful characters, absurd situations.
In the middle of the Gulf of Riga sits the small island of Kihnu, known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant traditions. Kihnu women wear their national costumes even when going about their daily chores. When Meelis and Raili decide to get married, the whole village joins in. Everything starting from a proper proposal is done “according to custom”. During the winter people gather to make colourful skirts, mittens, socks and ribbons, to prepare drinks and fish dishes and to sing. Meelis brings logs from the woods, and on those logs the dance floor will be built come summer.
Watching this amazing film is like watching a play. Everything is based on a sense of community on a small island, on the desire to contribute to documenting an enduring tradition and on the will to make the experience enjoyable. The wedding, 13 years in the waiting, lasts for three days with 300 guests – over half of the island’s inhabitants – taking part. The festivities occur simultaneously at the homes of both the bride and the groom. Vigilantly and flexibly the camera captures the familiar customs and rollicking games. Yet an element of fresh improvisation is constantly present. Vodka and home-brew are served and jokes cracked. Kihnu is said to have such vibrant traditions because it is so secluded. The island is shown as a treasure trove, influenced over the centuries by different cultures, all of wich have left their mark on the cultural heritage of the kihnu people.