Meet The Auteur at Elektriteater #5: Viesturs Kairišs

03. October, 2022 18:00 |

Tartu Elektriteater

Tartudok2024: Meet The Auteur at Elektriteater is the first Arts of Survival Documentaries event series. This year we are hosting a dozen film directors from Europe in South Estonia, who will bring their best works to Elektriteater. The programme is curated by Arts of Survival Documentaries Artistic Director Kaarel Kuurmaa, who will open a discussion with the auteurs after the films. 

Our next guest is renowned Latvian film director, scriptwriter, theatre and opera director Viesturs Kairišs, who will screen his latest film The Sign Painter and an older classic, Pelican in the Desert.

18.00 The Sign Painter (2020, 112 min)
20.45 Pelican in the Desert (2014, 68 min)
Both films are followed by a talk with director Viesturs Kairišs, moderated by Kaarel Kuurmaa.

The films are with English subtitles. The entrance is free!

The Sign Painter (2020, 112 min)

Ansis is a sign painter. Europe is caught in troubled times, and the entire world is askew. Ansis’s homeplace does not remain untouched either. The somewhat authoritarian republic is replaced by what looks like communism, which is replaced by national socialism. The authorities always need someone to paint useful signs for them, so a sign painter always has bread on his table. Ansis is in love with Zisla, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish merchant, but that union cannot happen. Ansis falls for a Latvian girl and marries her. But the Jewish girl remains in the man’s heart. Things in the love triangle get hot when the Nazis start hunting for Zisla, who has become a communist.

The film brings together the comedy-style distortion of how the director’s superb story is told and the tragic nature of the era in all of its horror. The main character is a ‘little man, just like all the colourful supporting characters. With that, the entire film asks the audience a question: does human nature remain essentially the same regardless of the changing signs or do the signs actually change a person? (Mihkel Möölman)

Pelican in the Desert (2014, 68 min)

Latgale is a land on the very eastern edge of the European Union. Sometimes this land seems like land in the middle of a body of water. At other times, it seems like a desert with the ark of rescued humanity covered by sand.

This is a film that tells the story of yet another Atlantis: a special part of eastern Latvia, a state within a state, Latgale. This land is vanishing. What is vanishing is its special way of existing, which has been making this region remote and magical for centuries. This is a story about a vanishing culture and civilization, which is a natural phenomenon when a place loses its otherness.

This part of the Baltic region was quite different not so long ago. The number of Jews in the towns sometimes reached as much as 90 %. Having escaped persecution in Russia, Old Believers established their colonies – strings of villages – there. Nowadays, Latgallians are embarrassed by their dialect, poverty and provincialism. Even Soviet history, which had thoroughly transformed this land, is vanishing. At the same time, there is spiritual tension in the air that is unlike any other place in Latvia: it is a mostly Catholic area full of the Orthodox, Old Believers and Jewish temple ruins.

But perhaps this land, which tends to change so often, will continue transforming in the homogenous globalized world? The film presents a land that is made by people, spiritual and physical extremes of living and a thoroughly Christian resurrection.