Hold the phone, Simone, and shut the front door, Lenore. I have seen my film of the festival. The one that blew me away and I would have started watching again if I could. In the Crosswind is an Estonian drama unlike anything I have seen before.
It tells the story of the forced removal of half a million Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians from their homelands by Stalin, to be ‘resettled’ in Siberia and prison and forced labour camps. The only dialogue in the film is the reading out of the actual letters and diary entries of an Estonian woman, Erna, to her husband Heldur. She has been taken with other women and children to Siberia and lives in dire poverty and deprivation, he has been sent to a gulag.
What is remarkable about this film, is that it is nearly all tableaux vivants, where a three-dimensional photograph is created with people and background and the camera moves slowly through the scene. It is like we are moving through a diorama and the luscious black and white film gives you a sense of being within history. Sometimes the camera will move into a scene and then as it slowly arcs around, we will see that something has changed, the next action has happened. The pace gives you time to absorb the minute detail of the reality of tragedy and see yourself in that moment. It is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen.