The text is written by the film “River and a Cat” director Maria Aua. Photos by the author & Aivar Tõnso.
In the spring of this year, I took time off and lived in the city of good ideas for two consecutive months to develop my short film idea there. I have never stayed in Tartu for such a long period before.
Tartu has several interesting districts, but I lived in the border zone at Võru Street, where Tammelinn started on one side, and Karlova on the other. A low wooden house, a former salt warehouse and an abattoir were located between the car road and the store parking lot. From the window of my temporary apartment, there was a view of the parking lot, mostly used by customers of stores, a liquor store, and a nightclub.
Occasionally, I noticed salon gatherings where friends sat in each other’s cars. Often, small groups gathered in the parking lot late at night and had a good time listening to music. Sometimes, friends would meet each other, sitting in their own car and talking with the windows rolled down to the sound of the engine. In a comical way, sometimes even walking down the street I would spot guys talking to friends about their machines. Behind hidden corners, one could also find repair shops, which are attractions on their own.
Perhaps the area I lived in led me into a car-centric world where owning a four-wheeler and its activities are a culture and a community. This this non-place or border zone on Võru Street kept me sober from excessive dreams and with two feet on the ground. I came to Tartu to wander, observe, dream, think, create. With one foot I stayed in my own created reality and constant search, while with the other I met the life it brought me.
Maria Aua (1988) has graduated in Photography and in Directing Documentary. Her master’s project The Man From Samaria won the prize of the Best Estonian Short Film at the Sleep Walkers festival (2016), and has been included in the programs of festivals abroad. After studies, Maria started to work with her first film Connected Rooms” She’s also working with her next solo exhibition, concerned with looking for links between natural landscapes and people’s inner landscapes in a time when the natural environment surrounding us is more and more looked as just a resource.
Maria’s work as a filmmaker is influenced by her previous experience with the photo camera, with frequent use of static cinematography, stories told often through the mood. Her other passion is experimental music and in her films she’s looking for bridges between visuals and curious, weird, accidental soundscapes.