Artists of Survival

As a student, the protagonist watches Emir Kusturica’s film “Black cat, white cat”, about the wacky life of the Balkans, and suddenly realizes that he has already seen all this in his childhood in Võrumaa.

Director: Jaan Tootsen
Cinematographer: Mait Mäekivi
Editor: Marta Pulk
Composer: Eva Eensaar
Sound: Tanel Kadalipp
Producer: Anneli Ahven
Production company: Aadam ja Pojad OÜ
Country: Estonia
Language: Estonian, Võro and Seto dialect

Shots from the field (photographer: Heikki Leis)

Shots from the film

Jaan Tootsen about the film…

What is this film about?

The film shows the creative approach to life that the people of Võrumaa have. Despite hardships and the complex landscape, for example climbing mountains barefoot, they always find bubbling joy in life and the wisdom of survival. This wonderful state of mind combines dung vapor and the mist of the Milky Way in the highest sense.

Where did you get the inspiration for this topic?

I got inspiration from my childhood, my own experiences and the stories of elders. For example, the family legend about how grandfather built himself a camera and became a village photographer in Rõuge is a very adventurous and philosophical story.

What does the concept of “Arts of Survival” mean for you?This is a great title for the entire cultural year of Tartu 2024. What is at stake in this survival? Let’s take a look at the Constitution of Estonia: for the benefit of language and culture, i.e. spirit. Everything else is a prerequisite, not an end in itself. The Arts of Survival carry the wisdom and joy necessary for a life worth living.