Films about artists

Between 1998 and 2013, the EAA produced short films about artists in collaboration with the Estonian Cultural Endowment and briefly also with the Center for Contemporary Art, Estonia. Even though these short films, mostly between 15 and 25 minutes in length, cannot show the artists in their full richness and totality, the months of shooting have left the producers with an abundance of material on beta tapes, which is most certainly invaluable archival material for the future.
A committee has subsequently selected the artists for the next three years of filming, although each artist has the right to decline the committee’s offer. As a rule, the artist chose the producer for their film.
In addition to films about artists, EAA has also documented various annual exhibitions and art events.
EAA film committees
1998–1999 Jaan Elken, Andres Tali, Sirje Helme
1999–2001 Jaan Elken, Liina Siib, Johannes Saar, Sirje Helme
2002–2004 Jaan Elken, Liina Siib, Sirje Helme, Piret Lindpere
2005–2007 Jaan Elken, Elin Kard, Piret Lindpere
2008–2010 Jaan Elken, Elin Kard, Piret Lindpere, Urmas Viik
Igor Ruus 2013
Director: Igor Ruus
30 min
The documentary is shot in the home belonging to artist couple, Vive and Lembit Tolli, as well as their studio and at the beach. The Tolli family is united by their love of Estonian nature and life on the coast.
Vive Tolli is an Estonian printmaker. She graduated from Tallinn High School No. 3 in 1947. She then studied in the ceramics department at the Tallinn State Institute of Applied Arts for two years. She ultimately graduated in 1953 from the printmaking department of the Estonian State Art Institute. She undertook additional training in Yugoslavia in 1969 and in Canada in 1987.
Between 1953 and 1982 she worked as a freelance artist. After that she worked as a teacher at the Estonian State Art Institute; from 1987 as a docent and from 1992 as a professor.
In 1965, she was awarded the title of Honoured Artist of the ESSR and in 1978 the People’s Artist of the ESSR. Since 1957, she has been a member of the artists’ union and since 1972 an honorary member of the Finnish Kalevala Association.
In addition to art printmaking, Vive Tolli’s work encompasses book illustration, bookplates and posters. She has received numerous awards at international exhibitions. In 1978, she was awarded the Kristjan Raud Prize, in 1998 the Wiiralt Prize. In 2008, she received the lifetime achievement award from the Estonian National Culture Foundation. In 2001, she received the Order of the White Star, Third Class. Her husband Lembit Tolli was a sculptor and her daughter Tuulikki Tolli is a scenographer.
OÜ Raamat-Film 2012.
Director: Rein Raamat
22 min
Sculptor Tiiu Kirsipuu is known as a versatile artist. She began actively participating in exhibitions in the mid-1980s. She has created charming and quirky sculptures, taken part in multiple wood sculpture and hot glass symposia, snow and ice sculpture competitions and many sculpture related events both in Estonia and abroad. She is one of the most travelled Estonian artists, although her work is also valued in her homeland.
Tiiu Kirsipuu on her work: “During the last couple of decades I have seriously started contemplating the possibilities and obligations I have in this life, since I am adding things to what already exists. I put my energy into the things I create. They are all essentially positive and this is my tiny contribution to this world.”
ERR, 2011 Director: Elo Selirand, producer: Kadi Katarina Priske
Number of episodes: 51 (51 artists) Episode duration: approx. 2 min
Shot between 15 and 17 October 2011 at the Patarei Sea Fortress
As a result of discussions over three years between Estonian Public Broadcasting and the Estonian Artists Association (with Sirje Helme, the head of Estonian Art Museum and Signe Kivi, rector of Estonian Academy of Arts as advisors) in autumn 2011 Estonian television (ETV) aired a new series Päeva kunstitöö similar to the poetry shorts shown after the evening news. Fifty-one short episodes introduced viewers to 51 artists, showcased an artwork or series of works chosen for the show and the process and context for creating the artwork(s).
The series Päeva kunstitöö aired on ETV between 1 November and 31 December 2011, from Monday to Saturday after the evening news.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2010
Director: Rein Raamat
Laterna OÜ, 2010
Director and producer: Igor Ruus
28 min
Leo Rohlin said he very knowingly chose the path of a ceramic artist and has stuck to it with enviable persistence. This is the journey the film covers – it is a 30-minute short that introduces how and when the artist became a living legend in Estonian art. Leo Rohlin has worked at the Estonian Academy of Arts for more than 40 years, while also maintaining his own extremely prolific art practice. Leo Rohlin is truly a classic of Estonian applied art.
“If you’d like to use a few keywords to characterise my artistic foundations, these would be applied art, design and craft. In my work I have tried to visually unpack the relationship and tensions between these three fields. But I also value researching the technical side of ceramics, as this also provides creative opportunities and discoveries.”
Raamat Film OÜ, 2009
Director and screenwriter: Rein Raamat
Producers: Helvi and Rein Raamat.
26 min
Sculptor Jaan Vares shaped the Estonian State Art Institute into a perfectly oiled machine in his 30 years as its rector and under the guidance of the best teachers, the institute produced several generations of artists still actively working in Estonia and elsewhere. As a smart man, Jaan managed to maintain a path that benefited Estonian art despite the strict rules and regulations of the Soviet state, thus leaving a powerful legacy. He also created a series of fascinating portrait sculptures that decorate his studio in Merivälja. Art historians are yet to discover and research these. The film tries to understand and show the audience Jaan’s creative legacy and shed light on a life full of contradictions, lived during a difficult period in history.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2009
Director: Rein Raamat
Screenwriter: Juta Kivimäe.
Producers: Helvi and Rein Raamat
26 min
Siima Škop’s illustrations for classic children’s books are fondly remembered by book loving grandmothers and grandfathers but also their grandchildren enjoying the very same books today. It is difficult to imagine books more beautiful than Thumbelina by H.C. Andersen, Snow White by J. and W. Grimm and Little Muck by W. Hauff, all so refreshing after the imposition of the Socialist Realism of the 1950s in Estonian children’s literature. With these and later also other books, Estonian homes opened their doors to an incredibly detailed and realistic fairy tale world. Detailed depictions of nature and costumes from times long past fascinate both the children and those who read the stories aloud.
At the same time, Siima Škop was one of the most awarded and institutionally highlighted poster artists of the 1940s and 1950s. Her cultural propaganda and political posters were outstanding and powerful. The film follows the artist in a local Estonian-Jewish cultural centre, repeatedly switching from one era to another, going back and still ending up in the very same place, in the building of the Tallinn Art Fund, in a small flat, filled with pictures and books.
AD Oculos Film, 2009
Director: Peeter Brambat
Producers: Mariina Mälk and Peeter Brambat
44 min
What kind of a man is he, an artist through and through – he surprises with every new project, makes joyful and humorous work but still sprinkles refined irony on a bourgeois sense of beauty, honour and justice. Friends say Jüri is slightly childish, loves dark humour and is an incurable optimist. It was proven at the Venice Biennale that he has international relevance – the gondolas changed their usual trajectory to pass under Jüri’s sculpture proudly and provocatively standing over one of Venice’s canals, surely having seen a lot during its long life.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2009
Director: Rein Raamat
Producers: Helvi and Rein Raamat
25 min
Video documentation of the opening of the 9th annual exhibition and the following social gathering at Tallinn Art Hall.
Estonia Film OÜ, 2008.
Director and producer: Igor Ruus.
30 min
Uno Roosvalt has built a strong creative foundation in his 30-plus years as an artist. From the very beginning he has relied on core values, always considering the aesthetics and ethics of art. In Uno Roosvalt’s work painting and drawing are equally important, both as independent media but also in their intertwining. Painting is strongly grounded in drawing – in many of his large-scale landscape compositions a painterly quality is evident. Uno Roosvalt paints and draws the sea and the landscape surrounding it. There are boats and people on the beach. The atmosphere is serious and dignified. His style of painting is equally strict and serious, founded on drawing and displaying a heavy tonality. In this he has been greatly influenced by the severe style that pervaded when the artist was young and still finding himself. But this is not the only reason. When looking at Uno Roosvalt’s work as a whole, it becomes clear that this is just another expression of contemporary romantic nationalism.
Allfilm, 2008
Director and screenwriter: Marko Raat
Producer: Ivo Felt
77 min 10 sec
This is a portrait of Jaan Toomik in 2007, when he decided to direct a feature film. Toomik’s Movie shows the route from Jaan’s obsession to the completed movie. Framed by his experiences, his loved ones and the freaks he has repeatedly painted and featured in his videos – those who cannot be without him and without whom Toomik would not be who he is now.
An important dimension is added by a broader and timeless conflict that the story is based on and also plays an equally significant role in the success of the film as Jaan Toomik’s own charismatic persona. Toomik’s Movie not only highlights one individual, born in 1961, who has created such and such artworks and presented them here and there, but also shows an artist who seems to be at a crossroads or maybe even on the verge of a creative crisis. Toomik’s Movie is one way of making a film about Toomik. Just as is evident in the metaphorical scene repeated throughout the film, where Jaan excitedly but in fear waits for a man to appear in the mirror. It is not certain whose eyes, if anyone’s, are capable of seeing objective truth. The openness and the truths of the main character will no doubt touch the audience regardless.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2007.
Director: Rein Raamat
Screenwriter:  Juta Kivimäe
Producers: Rein and Helvi Raamat
30 min
Inge Teder was the director of the Estonian Art Museum, a critic, applied art historian and one of the most colourful personalities in the Estonian art scene, especially during the Soviet Modernist period, from the 1960s to the 1980s. But her presence is still felt today. Inge Teder’s portrait allows us to see the art world of her time in all its sharp contrasts, inevitable compromises and confrontations with the ideological realities of the occupying regime. It was largely Inge Teder’s contribution that established the Estonian Art Museum as a prominent exhibition and research centre during the Soviet decades. Thanks to her a number of exceptionally good museum exhibitions took place, networks with leading museums in Moscow and Leningrad as well as Estonian artists living abroad were created, many of whom sent their artistic legacy to their home country. Thanks to her a number of other museums still operating in Tallinn were founded: Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, Niguliste Museum, Adamson-Eric Museum and Kristjan Raud House Museum in Nõmme.
As the director of the Estonian Art Museum, Inge Teder was truly remarkable – her relationship to the museum was objective, yet deeply personal, and with her employees and colleagues, authoritarian and also very personal. It was an end of an era when Inge Teder left her position as director of the Estonian Art Museum and her harsh critique at the meetings of the museum’s research council, her statements and attitudes are remembered to this day. Her staff lunches, the museum coffee breaks that started precisely at one o’clock and lasted for precisely one hour and took place in the attic of Kadriorg Palace and required mandatory attendance are also still talked about.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2007.
Director: Rein Raamat
Screenwriter: Juta Kivimäe
Producers: Helvi and Rein Raamat
26 min
This portrait documentary shows the artistic path of the sculptor couple Signe (1918–2006) and Arseni (1919–2009) Mölder, discusses their role as intellectuals and art educators, looks at the artists’ selective memory and objectivity, changing attitudes over time and the very human story of the two artists.  Their contemporaries remember them as an inseparable pair always present at art events and exhibition openings. Always together, Signe and Arseni became a sort of an archetype. Their unabashedly elderly bodies, old and simple faces and Sunday clothes, as if from a completely different era, created the illusion of a comforting stability.
Ad Oculus Film, 2006.
Director: Peeter Brambat
Consultant: Mai Levin
29 min
The film centres around the maestro’s exhibition at Viinistu Art Museum. Viidalepp’s work of the last two decades is popular and grotesque, his small-format oil paintings show amusing comic-book-like stories with characters wearing mixed up festive clothing from the beginning of the 20th century, smiles on their simple faces, each picture centred around a mundane story not unlike Viidalepp’s own memories. The film introduces the everyday life of the old artist: his summer home in Kassari, old acquaintances from Kassari, studio flat in Tallinn Art Hall and walks with his dog in the nearby Toompea. Peeter Brambat’s film is so fascinating because of the way he has made space for the past. He has freely let Viidalepp tell his stories wherever they might lead. Into his film Brambat has successfully integrated a cultural documentary, the black and white scenes from a film by Ants Viidalepp and Adres Sööt that for a moment show the audience an old artist from another era – Johannes Võerahansu. A teacher, from whom his talented student seems to have learnt more than just artistic skills – there are similarities in their behaviour as well, for example in their archaic and colourful manner of speaking. As they travel in time, the director brings Viidalepp from the past to the most contemporary cultural environment in Estonia. The old artist enters Kumu and is faced with his own past. In the museum’s post-war exhibition, a 1950s painting, Jaanipäev (St. John’s Day) has been mistakenly attributed to Ants Viidalepp. It is such a comical scene, in the spirit of Viidalepp’s own sense of humour, that the old gentleman smiles in deep gratification. Looking into the camera he states with pleasure that he does not know this work and the museum has made a mistake. And after all, not far away hangs a work painted with his first wife Helve, depicting young model plane aviators in red pioneer neck scarves, right next to Elmar Kits, Evald Okas and other artists from that period. He is placed in the context and time the curator has deemed valuable. To the director’s question about his relationship to his paintings from that era, Viidalepp replies with a cynical story about Elmar Kits. And then there’s the story about a broken cello that was repaired by a coffin-maker but never sounded the same again – another of Viidalepp’s strange and ambiguous tales. Why Viidalepp never became a cellist but an artist instead is another story – but not all of them can fit into one film.
Raamat-Film OÜ, 2006
Director: Rein Raamat
18 min
Lembit Saarts’ (1924–2016) artistic persona was shaped in the spirit of the Pallas school painting tradition. Through his work he has taken the best of that on into the more recent art of Estonia and he has become one of our most poetic painters. In the film, artist Heldur Viires, his contemporary, and Mart Kivastik, a writer of a younger generation, talk about the Lembit Saarts of Tartu and the Pallas school. Saarts talks about life and art. His partner Eeva Anti and art historian Tiiu Talvistu also contribute. It is a film about an artist who, upon returning from Siberia in the late 1950s, found himself in the midst of the re-emergence of Modernism in the art scene of his homeland.
Raamat-Film OÜ, 2006
Script: Mai Levin, director: Rein Raamat
20 min
Evi Tihemets has been in the front row of Estonian printmakers for half a century. She has worked with various techniques, above all colour lithography, soft ground and other intaglio and mixed techniques. She has created small prints, portraits as well as monumental works, illustrated books and done silk screen printing. Her work surprises with its joy of discovery and freshness of ideas to this day. Evi Tihemets’ works have been exhibited in more than 30 solo exhibitions that have brought her awards both locally and abroad. This is the story of the long and consistent artistic life of an Estonian woman artist.
Kuukulgur Film, 2005.
Director: Marko Raat
50 min
In the first week of February 2005 many involved in the Estonian art scene received a letter in their mailboxes: “The most famous girl band of Estonian metal F.F.F.F. is breaking up! After their final show in January 2005 in Ireland the group F.F.F.F. – Kristi Paap, Kaire Rannik, Berit Teeäär, KetliTiitsar and Maria Valdma – decided that it no longer makes sense for them to keep working together.” The documentary portrays the artists who worked as the collective F.F.F.F. (Fun For Five Females) for over ten years and the reasons they disbanded. A lot of talk and mixed feelings, as with every break-up.
Exitfilm, 2005
Director: Anri Rulkov
20 min 15 sec
Mare Vint arrived at her extremely refined style of drawing already in the 1970s. Her views of the natural world and parks charm viewers with their aesthetic quality and slightly metaphysical atmosphere. She regularly exhibits lithography, serigraphy, ink and colour pencil drawings both in Estonia and abroad, her works belong to collections of several art museums around the world. Mare Vint before, during and after the opening of her exhibition Valitud vaated (Selected views, 2004), talks about her work.
Estonia Film, 2005
Directors: Eve Ester, Igor Ruus
30 min 30 sec
Jaan Klõšeiko is a phenomenon in Estonian culture. He graduated from the painting department of the Estonian State Art Institute, became involved in journalism and worked as a book illustrator. His true passion, however, is photography and he has diligently documented cultural events in Estonia: his photo archive is made up of tens of thousands of negatives. Extremely jovial, with a great sense of humour, unique and bohemian, Jaan Klõšeiko takes the film crew for a walk in Tallinn Old Town, to buildings that have played a role in his work or life in general and talks about his philosophy of life. Klõšeiko and his work are also discussed by art historians and artists.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2005.
Director: Rein Raamat
30 min
Kursi school, founded in Tartu in 1988, is unusual in the sense that it is not a school in the traditional sense, rather a group of friends and not so much a movement based on similar stylistics or ideology. Despite that, the group has stayed together and have at least one group show every year. The film introduces the artistic positions of the artists in the group: Ilmar Kruusamäe, Andrus Kasemaa, Peeter Allik, Albert Gulk, Priit Pangsepp, Imat Suumann, Marko Mäetamm, Reiu Tüür.
Exitfilm, 2003.
Director:  Marianne Kõrver
19 min 49 sec
Rühm Pluss Null, 2002
Director: Meelis Salujärv
18 min
Erki Kasemets creates his art on the verge of destruction. He pulls his ideas from piles of worthless things, as from a deck of cards and tosses them back there again. Documenting his personal life, polygon theatre, art made of rubbish and performances, machines, kinetic art, games and making up rules for the games is all part of his art. Kasemets is an artist with environmental focus. No trace is left of his artworks, his art is put together using the leftovers of civilisation, after exhibitions his works often find their way back to the landfill. For Kasemets context is important: his art cannot be consumed but it invites participation.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2002
Director: Rein Raamat
15 min
Metal artist Enn Johannes is an Estonian medal artist who designed the medals for the Kristjan Raud Prize and the Konrad Mägi Prize. The artist and teacher, at the peak of his creative form, is forced to give up his Tallinn flat and his position at the Estonian Academy of Art and now lives in a village in Hiiumaa populated only by a few elderly people. The commemorative medals for the annual state cultural awards and sports prizes now arrive in Tallinn from a tiny village in Hiiumaa, where Enn Johannes lives as a freelancer with his brother who needs care.
OMAfilm, 2002
Director: Liina Kulles
36 min
Raul Rajangu entered the Estonian art scene in the mid-1980s and shook up many of its core values. His paintings were different from everything our respectable exhibition halls had shown. Sometimes childish, the paintings were filled with fragmented memories from the 1950s. In 1990–92, he painted in his home in Viljandi and later withdrew into the forest, making himself a myth. The film sets out to deconstruct the myth. The artist discusses his work and confesses to a lengthy battle with demons and a therapeutic solution.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2001.
Director: Rein Raamat
15 min
Lemming Nagel is a film about the opportunity to make good art that’s relatable to many. It begins as a fairy tale animation. Somewhere in a high-rise on the edge of a city lives a painter called Lemming Nagel (1948), from whose window a view of the wilderness bordering Lasnamäe that was seen as extremely hostile to the Estonian spirit, independence and continuity during the singing revolution. And just by this little brushwood sits a wondrous place offering an opportunity to secretly dispose of your rubbish. Nagel takes a little walk with his limping dog there, and voila! Suddenly we have three dimensional installations in the truest spirit of the 1970s rock generation. The dubious ideas of the European Union, dangerous submarines and a cuckoo-clock hiding exhausted time all take a journey from Nagel’s studio laboratory in Lasnamäe to an exhibition where they draw the audience’s praise and the critics’ heartfelt but somewhat puzzled curiosity.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2000.
Director: Rein Raamat
20 min
The centre of Jaan Elken’s work, a painter and professor of painting at the University of Tartu, is the urban environment; his previous interest in specific motifs is now replaced by powerful expressive abstractionism. His work has been acquired by several museums and collections both in Estonia and abroad and has been awarded various prizes. Elken’s work is introduced through exhibitions over the course of three years (1997–1999) and it is further discussed by art historian Harry Liivrand.
Raamat Film OÜ, 2000.
Director: Rein Raamat
42 min
A charming art documentary about a group of artists who gathered around Ülo Sooster in post-war Tartu. Valve Janov, Kaja Kärner, Silvia Jõgever, Lembit Saarts and Heldur Viires were among the first generation still keeping the spirit of the Pallas school alive but due to World War II were robbed of the opportunity so common in earlier generations to study in Paris. Instead, Saarts, Viires and Sooster spent the years 1949–1956 in Soviet prison camps. The story of this group of friends made up of very different personalities reveals itself through long relaxed monologues. The memories of elderly artists give shape to an understanding of the fate of this generation of artists.
ETV, 1999
Director: Marina Mälk
10 min 06 sec
This short film about the artist Laurentsius was completed in 1999 when, according to his critics, his art was the purest expression of the MTV generation. He has been said to be a painter of the contemporary apocalypse and a cynical visionary with perfect painting skills. In 1996, Laurentsius (Lauri Sillak) was awarded the annual Vaal Gallery prize with his collaborator at the time, Tommy. This film, commissioned by the Estonian Artists Association, gives a short overview of the work of Laurentsius.
Raamat Film OÜ, 1998.
Director: Rein Raamat
10 min
This film follows Kaido Ole in the process of creating a new piece. As the work progresses, the viewers hear ideas and comments on Ole’s creative process from the artist himself and his colleague Jaan Elken. Kaido Ole studied design and painting at the Estonian Academy of Arts. He has had numerous solo shows and participated in group exhibitions in Estonia as well as abroad, including representing Estonia at the Venice Biennale with Marko Mäetamm in 2003. In 1998, Ole was awarded the annual Kristjan Raud Prize and has also received the annual prize of the Estonian Cultural Endowment twice.
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