Black Nights ride again

  • 2007-11-28
  • By Steve Roman

DO NOT FEED: South Korean production "I'm a Cyborg, but that's OK" is among the festival's widely varying offerings.

TALLINN - People already familiar with the Black Nights Film Festival will be happy to hear that the main program is about to kick off 's Nov. 30 marks the opening of the ten-day mega-event.
For those newcomers who haven't heard of the POFF, as the locals abbreviate it, here's what you need to know: It's by far the Baltics' biggest film festival, showing over 200 international feature productions 's nearly all with English subtitles 's plucked from the worldwide festival circuit; it's in its 11th year; it involves screenings in Tallinn, Tartu, Viljandi, Narva, Johvi and Kardla.

The festival opens at Tallinn's Russian Drama Theater with a concert by the Michael Nyman Band. Some of the most famous works of the film score composer, who is best known for his contribution to Peter Greenway films, will be performed alongside some of his more experimental music. Though the event is by invitation only, festival organizers said spare seats may be available for sale last-minute.
The main attraction of course is the films themselves, and each year two countries are picked for special attention at the festival. This year's event will highlight productions from Belgium and South Korea, though POFF director Tiina Lokk points out that the films are from just about everywhere, including countries like Ukraine and Iraq 's not typically considered powerhouses of the cinema world.

One of those is "Crossing the Dust," a production from Iraqi Kurdistan. The wartime tale by director Shawkat Amin Korki is about two men crossing the scarred landscape in a truck, encountering various dramas as they deliver supplies to their comrades in arms.
Also on the war theme is the U.S. film "The Devil Came on Horseback," a real-life journey into the heart of Darfur, Sudan as told by Marine Captain Brian Steidle, who was an official military observer of the African Union. It was Steidle's testimony that exposed the systematic execution of black Africans by the Arab-run government that pulled the issue into the international spotlight.

Other films focus on individual struggles, like the South Korean production, "I'm a Cyborg, but that's OK," a story of young people in a psychiatric clinic. 
An easy way to navigate the festival's heavy-laden schedule is via the well-designed Web site (see below), but it's best to book as early as possible for anything likely to be popular.

Black Nights Film Festival
Nov. 30 - Dec. 9