The Nordic & Baltic Oscar Contenders series at Scandinavia House returns this season with screenings of films chosen by the Nordic & Baltic countries to compete for the Oscar nomination for the Best International Feature Film! On November 30, see a special screening with Estonia’s official nomination for the 95th Academy Awards, Kalev (dir. Ove Musting, Estonia, 2022), as well as the Estonian short film Sierra, submitted for this year’s Best Animated Short Film. Director Ove Musting will be present for a film talk and Q&A following the event.
In the summer of 1990, the Soviet Union is teetering on the verge of collapse, while the Baltic nations are struggling to take back their lost independence. As the USSR’s basketball championship is set to begin against this deeply divided backdrop, the Estonian team Kalev faces a momentous decision — whether to participate amid a rising tide of public opposition, or to bow out. As professional athletes, the team makes the unpopular choice. And as the championship begins, the turbulent moment intertwines with fierce battles on the court. (94 min. In Estonian with English subtitles)
“Director Musting’s thoughtful approach to the subtle balance between truth and fiction speaks highly of his dedication to the story of the Estonian beloved team”—Ion Cinema
In the short film Sierra by director Sander Joon (Estonia, 2022), a father and son are losing a footrace. In order to win, the boy turns himself into a car tire! Loosely inspired by the director’s childhood, Sierra pulls us into a surreal car-racing world. Sierra has won an Oscar-qualifying awards at Palm Springs Shortfest, AFI FEST and San Francisco International Film Festival and is the first Estonian film acquired by the Criterion Channel.(16 min. In Estonia with English subtitles)
This screening will take place in-person at Scandinavia House in Victor Borge Hall.
This program is supported by the Consulate General of Estonia in New York.
About the Director
Director Ove Musting was born in 1977 and was brought up in Sõmerpalu, deep in Southern Estonia – part of the Soviet Union back then. His childhood was spent buried in books and music. He even founded a punk band which turned out to be quite successful! He was 14 when he saw Kalev, one of Estonia’s biggest basketball teams to this day, play that crucial game against the Russians, and win. He remembers clearly and exactly how meaningful that victory was for him and for an entire Estonian nation on the brink of becoming a sovereign country.
Ove’s dad first introduced him to filmmaking, as he made a number of amateur films himself. Those early cinematic experiences made a huge impression and put that young, punk rock farm boy on the path to becoming a film director. He was soon accepted by the Tallinn University (formerly Tallinn Pedagogical University) film department, beginning his studies in 1996.
After graduation, he made a number of short films that were successful on the festival circuit and collected a number of awards along the way. ‘30 Minutes of Silence’ (2003) had its world premiere at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, while ‘Paradise of Old Men’ (2005) was awarded the best feature film prize of the Estonian Cultural Endowment in 2005, competing against seven full features – quite extraordinary for a short film. ‘Dear Friend, I Respect You’ was completed in 2011 and received the best domestic short film prize at PÖFF Shorts (part of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival).
Later on, his creative gaze extended to directing music videos, high profile TVC-s and social campaigns, one of which were award-winning and even made it to the Cannes Lions’ finals. At the same time, Ove began working in TV: from 2008 to 2019, he acted as a director of the Estonian preliminary for the Eurovision Song Contest. He helped to create the show format and was awarded the title Director of the Year in 2017. During this time, he discovered and enjoyed the multi-camera format and honed his storytelling talent: over 10 years, he directed the performances of more than 150 different artists. Ove’s passion for multi-camera usage, his fond childhood memories of Estonia’s basketball victory, his vast TV-directing experience and intrinsic filmmaking talent all came together to form the feature film project ‘Kalev’, entering development in 2016. Initially he joined as a director but early on found his voice as co-writer too, adding his personal touch to the project depicting the hope seen in Estonian independence and the struggles of those times.
‘Kalev’ is Ove’s debut feature, which – after a prolonged production period burdened by pandemic restrictions was greeted by an 8-minute standing ovation on its domestic release.