Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival announces the First Feature Competition lineup

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) adds ten films to the already announced eight that will be competing in the First Feature Competition programme of the festival. 

Adding one world, eight international and one European premiere to the films that were already announced on the 7th of October, PÖFF Concludes the selection of the First Feature Competition programme of the festival. The programme embodies the festival’s mission to discover emerging creative voices from all over the world, offering them a first launchpad and help to gain international recognition.

The competition will be overseen by an international jury of film industry professionals, that will be announced in the second half of October. They will hand out the following prizes: Best film and a 5000 euro grant shared by the director and producer of the film, along with two Special Prizes.

Festival director and head of programme Tiina Lokk commented: "It is a truly special and great feeling, yet an even greater responsibility for a festival to host a world or international premiere of an artist's debut, thus extra special consideration is always given by the team for these films. Is this the right film for us? But even more so, are we the right festival for this film? Having said that, we are extremely excited to share the 2019 First Feature selection which, for us, is an exciting combination of countries and topics, artistically rewarding and intellectually challenging in equal measure.” 

The press screenings and first public screenings of the films will run from the 21st until the 30th of November.


Lithuanian director Jurgis Matulevičius goes artistically deep into the darkness of 20th-century history, offering a decades-spanning tale of a Lithuanian political activist Andrius Gluosnis who kills a Jew - Isaac - at the Lietukis garage massacre in 1941. Years later in Soviet Lithuania, his friend, a well-known film director returns from the USA with a screenplay of a film that depicts the massacre in detail and a situation where Isaac is being killed becoming the main suspect of a KGB investigation, opening the floodgates to repressed guilt for the protagonist. The film will have its world premiere at Black Nights.

Dance With Me
Director- co-scriptwriter Soroush Sehat’s drama-comedy stages a reunion of old friends for Jahangir’s birthday, when everyone is informed of his fatal illness. An inevitable confrontation with the current situation and the past leads to a series of tensions and reconciliations – it is a story about death, serving as a light-hearted ode to life. Soroush Sehat has been active as an actor and scriptwriter in several Iranian films and a director of Iranian TV series.

Director and co-scriptwriter Emanuela Rossi offers a “fairy tale for grown-up children”, a fantasy tale about a seventeen-year-old girl living with her father and two younger sisters in an isolated house under a strict rule not to exit the building under any circumstances. Her father,  the only one able to go outside, claims the outside world is apocalyptical, but something about the story doesn’t quite add up for the protagonist. Using a fictional setting as a backdrop, Rossi is interested in the power play between parents and their children and the spatial and psychological repression a growing psyche can feel at home.

Irish Director Dathaí Keane presents a drama with mystical sub currents, subtly blending lines between fantasy and realism in the tale of Micí Finky, a musician with a tragic past, is crippled in an accident and given a chance at redemption when recruited by an avant-garde circus. Keane has directed two successful drama-documentary series The Irish Mob - that has been internationally sold to Netflix and Easter 1916 - that is available on Amazon Prime. Another Netflix title by him is the drama series Dominion Creek that also ran for two seasons on Irish national television under the name An Klondike. Finky won the award for Best Cinematography at Galway Film Fleadh.

On the Quiet
Set in the present-day Hungarian countryside, director Zoltán Nagy’s debut introduces 18-year-old Dávid, the lead violinist in his music conservatory’s orchestra. His mentor and the teacher, also somewhat a father figure for Dávid, is a veteran conductor. A freshman14-year-old student Nori joins the orchestra at the end of the school year and soon enjoys the attention of both men. At one point she confesses to Dávid that the 60-year-old man is making intimate approaches to her. Nagy plays skillfully with the ambiguities of truth, prejudices and miscommunication of the situation, as he keeps the audience in a similar position with the protagonist, who, while looking for the truth, starts to spiral out of control emotionally.

Managing to combine sensibilities that usually tend to oppose each other - surreal and naturalistic - director and writer Kunlin Wang presents a coming-of-age journey of a teenage boy, who sexually awakens after discovering the sexual relationship between his father and sister figures. While trying to repeal the psychological repression of the father, he builds a yearning for his sister’s sexual attention. Having a background in Gender Studies, director Kunlin Wang has a passion for telling stories of subcultures and marginalised people. She has directed more than 10 short films that have won awards including the New York and Los Angeles Film Awards.

Stay Still
Julie is a rich and sarcastic patient in a mental clinic with a history of seducing men and setting things on fire. She meets Agnes, a nurse and young mother with little know-how or emotional capabilities of being either. The meeting of the two wild spirits sparks a rebellion or a spree of severe vandalism, depending on the perspective. Director-scriptwriter Elisa Mishto presents a stylised, poetic and witty portraiture of an ambivalent rebellion in the contemporary world. While destructively nihilistic on the surface, there is also a sense fighting back against the fetishisation of productivity in our world. Her previous film won the best short film award at the Max Ophüls festival and screened at Palm Springs. 

Showcasing remarkable skill at flowing smoothly between genres - drama, thriller and disaster cinema - Polish director Bartosz Kruhlik tells the story of a few hours in the life of a rural community affected by an accident that changes the life for several of the characters while raising questions about the essence of chance and destiny. Kruhlik’s short films have won over 150 awards and been included in The selections of San Sebastian IFF Karlovy Vary IFF, Montreal WFF, Sarajevo FF and IDFA.

Tomorrow We Are Free
Setting his powerful historical drama about the difficult choices average people have to make during history-shaping events, director-screenwriter Hossein Pourseifi presents a story from Iran in 1979. In the wake of the Islamic Revolution, a young woman from East Germany follows her Iranian-born husband to Tehran. Driven by the will to create a free and equal society they plan to start a new life with their little daughter. But eventually, the young family has to make the biggest sacrifice imaginable. Adding an autobiographical nuance to the selection of the topic, the film’s director was four years old when his family moved from Iran to Germany after the events depicted in the film.

Stories From the Chestnut Woods
In a decaying forest on the Yugoslav-Italian border in the years after World War II, a stingy, old carpenter and a lonely, young chestnut seller share imaginative memories of the past as they weigh fateful decisions for the future, in this touching homage to a lost way of life. Director and co-writer Gregor Božič shot the film in the rural area on the border of Italy and Slovenia where he grew up. The story is based on the stories he heard there while conducting research on pomology. The film had its world premiere in Toronto.

New titles

Dance With Me (Jahan, Ba Man Beraghs), 2019, Iran, director: Soroush Sehat | International premiere
Darkness (Buio), 2019, Italy, director: Emanuela Rossi | International premiere
Finky, 2019, Ireland, director: Dathai Keane | International premiere
On the Quiet (Szép csendben), 2019, Hungary, director: Zoltán Nagy | International premiere
Isaac, 2019, Lithuania / Poland, director: Jurgis Matulevičius | World premiere
Obscure, 2019, USA / China, director: Kunlin Wang | International premiere
Stay Still (Stillstehen), 2019, Germany, director: Elisa Mishto | International premiere
Stories From the Chestnut Woods (Zgodbe iz kostanjevih gozdov), 2019, Slovenia / Italy / Germany, director: Gregor Božič | European premiere
Supernova,  2019, Poland, director: Bartosz Kruhlik | International premiere
Tomorrow We Are Free (Morgen Sind Wir Frei), 2019, Germany, director: Hossein Pourseifi | International premiere

Films announced on the 7th of October

A Dog's Death (La muerte de un perro), 2019,  Uruguay / Argentine / France Director: Matías Ganz | World premiere
Dust and Ashes (축복의 집), 2019, South Korea, director: Park Hee-kwon | World premiere
Mother (Mater), 2019, Croatia / Serbia / France / Bosnia-Herzegovina, director: Jure Pavlović | World premiere
Looted, 2019, UK, Director: Rene Pannevis | World premiere
Lorni - The Flaneur, 2019, India, director: Wanphrang Diengdoh | World premiere
Saul at Night, 2019, USA, director: Cory Santilli | World premiere
The Names of the Flowers, 2019, Bolivia / USA / Canada / Iran, director: Bahman Tavoosi | World premiere
The Seeker (O Buscador), 2019, Brazil, Director: Bernardo Barreto | World premiere


Film stills can be found here.
First Feature Competition programme laurel.

Festival teaser: Youtube link.

#blacknightsfilmfestival #PÖFF23


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