Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival unleashes its Rebels with a Cause

    Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) announces the line-up for Rebels with a Cause, an international competition programme screening 14 feature films, alongside a short films competition that includes 13 entries this year, split across two programmes. The features line-up includes seven world premieres and six international premieres. 

    Rebels with a Cause is PÖFF’s showcase for challenging independent productions, offering new perspectives, mesmerising visuals and vigorous storytelling. Some come from experienced masters of experimental forms, some are explosions of youthful imagination. All will leave a lasting impression. Both feature and short competitions will be judged by a jury composed of international film professionals announced next week. 

    Festival director Tiina Lokk shared her excitement regarding this year’s films, “Rebels with a Cause is a programme designed to surprise: some explode on the screen from the start and some creep up on the viewer with their charms. Each is an intoxicating artwork from a hugely talented director, here to shake up the cinema establishment. It was also a real surprise and honour that so many of the filmmakers chose PÖFF for their world and international premieres this year. We’re sure PÖFF25’s audiences will enjoy the same sense of adventure, excitement and revelation we felt experiencing these 14 films.”

    The short film selection often revels in the surrealistic, a reflection of the nonsensical world we live in, but also deals with many important and pressing issues of the day. They come from a mixture of new filmmakers who will lead the way in cinema over the coming years and more established talents, all in their own way, defying the traditional modes of filmmaking.

    Rebels with a Cause Features In Competition 

    Snowing Darkness / Uneori ninge cu zăpadă, alteori cu întuneric
    Gabriel de Achim blurs fantasy, memory, real life and cinema, in a tangle of flashes back and forward, while actors appear in multiple roles. It’s a puzzle of a film inside a film, frightening and heartbreaking at the same time, which comes to PÖFF25 as a truly fascinating world premiere.

    Another world premiere in Tallinn, Unprecedented focuses on Japanese youth in survival mode as the Corona pandemic takes its personal and economic toll. It’s a bold, raw, provocative and, above all, fiercely honest portrayal of this on-going crisis and the - sometimes cathartic, sometimes unhealthy - mechanisms we find to cope.

    Me & the Beasts Yo y Las Bestias
    Nico Manzano’s debut (where he also handles cinematography) alternates between hazy pop dreams and crisp indie realism, mirroring the personal and political, as a young musician faces both creative challenges and the complex reality of living in contemporary Venezuela. 

    Love is a Dog from Hell 
    Music also plays a central role in Khavn De La Cruz’s hugely inventive and always entertaining punk opera, set somewhere between Manilla and Hell and shot on a bafflingly large collection of cameras. It’s part photo-film, part secret Super 8 gig recording and all sensory overload.

    On Our Way 
    Another first time director, Sophie Lane Curtis, starts both ambitiously and assuredly with a timeline that juggles plots inside plots, reality-bending cameo casting and a supernaturally surreal tale of creative coming together. Or falling apart? (Or both all at once.)

    1000 Dreams
    Marat Sarulu picked up the best director award at PÖFF in 2014 and we’re delighted to welcome his return with the world premiere of 1000 Dreams. It’s another expertly designed portal into a creative world of loneliness and love, with characters and viewer slipping in and out of dreams, reveries and harsh realities.

    The Shape of Things to Come / Tiempos Futuros
    Debutant V. Checa builds an intricate and noirish world in this semi-sci-fi tale of man-machine and father-son relationships. The Shape of Things to Come is the final world premiere in the Rebels with a Cause lineup this year.

    My Parents' Divorce / Le divorce de mes marrants
    Also embracing a thoroughly surprising musicality, first-time directors Romy Trajman & Anais Straumann-Lévy break decisively free of documentary traditions in this utterly honest and startlingly original exploration of deep-seated family ties and feelings. 

    Chinese director Zhang Luoping’s sophomore feature Habitat centres on a young music teacher who digs a bit too deep into the mysterious sudden death, by arson, of her husband. This vividly eye-catching and atmospheric thriller also has its international premiere at Black Nights.

    The Shadow Hour Schattenstunde
    Screening as part of our Goethe-Institut Presents: New German Cinema programme, The Shadow Hour is a hugely inventive debut from Benjamin Martins. The true story of Jochen Klepper, a personal crisis, during the Third Reich, is told with sets and frame squeezing under the unimaginable pressure. 

    The Moths
    Piotr Stasik’s drama - part anthropological, part post-apocalyptic - follows a group of teens deprived of the internet and lost in the very real world. It’s a powerful and insightful exploration of youth, stereotypes and survival. Stasik’s first fiction film, following a number of award-winning documentaries, is an international premiere.

    With a looping, absurdist narrative and a dark, snow-bound setting, Andrey Paounov’s fiction debut January is an existential drama with a dash of horror context. It picked up a special jury prize while premiering at the Golden Rose Bulgarian Feature Film Festival and will also have its international premiere here at PÖFF25.

    A Kaddish for Bernie Maddoff 
    Yes, it’s a true story of greed and financial crime: one musician/poet/director Alicia Jo Rabins watched through her own window as an artist in residence in Wall Street. Her retelling of the tale in an astonishingly fresh hybrid meta-mashup of music videos, animations and real-life interviews.

    In an intergenerational futuristic letter written to the first child born on Mars, complete with dry-iced model trains and puppetry-inspired visuals, Harry Cleven eulogises our home world in what must be one of the most distinctive author films presented in Rebels with a Cause or, frankly, any festival programme in 2021.

    Rebels with their Shorts Programme 1
    Sasha Svirsky’s Berlin-premiering animation Vadim On A Walk opens the first programme, followed by Lefkamos, directed by Yorgos Tzikas - a talent to watch from the “Greek Weird Wave”. How to Die Young in Manila is a strange but brilliant nightlife trip, before Yoakim Bélanger’s female-focussed animation The Walk. Cassandra Bitter Tongue is an international premiere and the latest strident piece from actress/director Ana Moreia, who previously brought her debut Aquapark to PÖFF. Faeze Karimpour’s They Were to Cross the River comes for its world premiere, a well crafted short, created at La Femis film school. Rounding out the programme is some (extremely) dark comedy in Babythump.

    Rebels with their Shorts Programme 2
    Polish post-apocalyptic animation Moon opens the second programme of Rebels shorts, followed by evocative, 16mm-shot Events Meant To Be Forgotten. Paisley Valentine Walsh’s Eyeholes is a refreshingly experimental world premiere for PÖFF Shorts and marks Walsh out as one to watch. Serbia’s Svetislav Dragomirović also world premieres the dark family drama Body Parts with us. Orthodontics premiered in Cannes and is quite the aesthetic surprise for an Iranian short. Our final Rebels short, from US co-directors David Kennedy and Ruby Baker, is suburban-coming-of-age-tale-done-very-right, Sucking Wind.


    Rebels with a Cause Features In Competition

    Snowing Darkness / Uneori ninge cu zăpadă, alteori cu întuneric
    (Romania, Director: Gabriel de Achim) | World premiere

    Unprecedented (Japan, Director: Masaaki Kudo) | World premiere
    Me & the Beasts /  Yo y Las Bestias (2021, Venezuela, Director: Nico Manzano) | World premiere
    Love is a Dog from Hell (2021, Philippines/Germany, Director: Khavn De La Cruz) | World premiere
    On Our Way (2021, USA, Director: Sophie Lane Curtis) | World premiere
    1000 Dreams (2021, Kyrgyzstan, Director: Marat Sarulu) | World premiere
    The Shape of Things to Come / Tiempos Futuros (Perú/Ecuador/México/Spain, Director: V. Checa) | World premiere
    My Parents' Divorce (2021, Belgium, Directors: Romy Trajman & Anais Straumann-Lévy) | International premiere
    Habitat (2020, China, Director: Zhang Luoping) | International premiere
    The Shadow Hour /  Schattenstunde (2021, Germany, Director: Benjamin Martins) | International premiere
    The Moths (2020, Poland, Director: Piotr Stasik) | International premiere
    January (2021, Bulgaria, Director: Andrey Paounov) | International premiere
    A Kaddish for Bernie Maddoff (USA, Director: Alicia J. Rose) | International premiere
    Zeria (2021, Belgium, Director: Harry Cleven) | European premiere

    Rebels with their Shorts Competition Programme 1
    Vadim On A Walk
    (Animation, 7mins, Russia, Director: Sasha Svirsky) | Baltic Premiere

    Lefkamos (Fiction, 20mins, Greece, Director: Yorgos Tzikas) | European Premiere
    How to Die Young in Manila (Fiction, 2020, Philippines, Director: Petersen Vargas) | Baltic Premiere
    The Walk (Animation, 2020, 4 mins, Canada, Director: Yoakim Bélanger) | Baltic Premiere
    Cassandra Bitter Tongue (Fiction, 2021, 20 mins, Portugal, Director: Ana Moreira) | International Premiere
    They Were to Cross the River (Fiction, 2021, 27 mins, France, Director: (Faeze Karimpour) | World Premiere
    Babythump (Fiction, 2021, 11mins, UK, Director: Ian Killick) | European Premiere

    Rebels with their Shorts Competition Programme 2

    (Animation, 2020, 12 mins, Poland, Director: Tomek Popakul) | Estonian Premiere

    Events Meant To Be Forgotten (Animation, 2020, 6 mins, Croatia, Director: Marko Tadic) | Baltic Premiere
    Eyeholes (Fiction, 2021, 7 mins, UK, Director: Paisley Valentine Walsh) | World Premiere
    Body Parts (Fiction, 2021, Serbia, Director: Svetislav Dragomirović) | World Premiere
    Orthodontics (Fiction, 2021, Iran, 14 mins, Director: Mohammadreza Mayghani) | Baltic Premiere
    Sucking Wind (Fiction, 2020, USA, 16 mins, Directors: David Kennedy & Ruby Baker) | Baltic Premiere


    Film stills and press materials for the Rebels with a Cause Competition programme


    Our hashtags:
    #talllinnblacknightsff #PÖFF25 

    Tallinn Black Nights FF Opening Ceremony 2020. Photo by Aron Urb


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    Last modified on 30-10-2021