AUTUMN BALL

VEIKO ÕUNPUU

ORIGINAL TITLE

SÜGISBALL

2007 || Estonia || 123 mins || 35mm || Color || in Estonian || Feature

FESTIVALS / AWARDS

Winner - Venice 07 - Horizons Best Film, Winner - Marrakech - Grand Prix, Winner - Thessaloniki - Best Director, Winner - Bratislava - Best Director

SYNOPSIS

The metaphysical entanglements of a group of 30-somethings in a former Soviet era housing project, where time seems caught between nostalgia and contempt. A writer is nearly driven over the edge when his girlfriend leaves him. A single mother factory worker has difficulties finding love while being stalked by her drunken ex-husband. A successful architect forces his wife to continue to live in the despised neighborhood. A slacker dreams of having his own business but spends his time in an unfulfilling job and sleeping with women … First feature by the director of the acclaimed 2006 medium-length film EMPTY.

CAST

Rain TOLK

PRESS QUOTES

Imagine Ulrich Seidl cross-pollinated with a bit of Aki Kaurismaki and the tone of "Autumn Ball" becomes clear. Bleakly pessimistic yet marbled with moments of very dark humor, pic hovers within the transition period immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, presenting characters desperately reaching for unattainable happiness. Winter of discontent is more like it, with helmer Veiko Ounpuu withholding any hope that interpersonal connections will germinate in the unfertile soil ... Though the era isn't signaled outright, it's clear the setting is the depressed period between Communism's fall and the emergence of Baltic economic growth. Most of the action takes place on a housing estate, the kind of dreary, late-Soviet blight that dictates misery to all its inhabitants ... An integral part of Ounpuu's bleak emotional terrain is the physical landscape, from the concrete apartment block to the late Soviet-style nightclub. The brutishness of this environment acts as an incubator of despair, creating a direct link between outer ugliness and inner emptiness ...
Jay Weissberg, VARIETY

Narration and visuals in contrast to contemporary solitude and frustrations ... the icy humor of Kaurismaki comes to mind, but with the director’s own tension and his own curiosity. A winning mixture.
Cristina Piccino, IL MANIFESTO (Italy)

This nearly apocalyptic environment, which brings to mind Warsaw’s Stowski complex in Kieslowski’s Decalogue, acts as the stage for the sad vicissitudes of these little people, overwhelmed by the grayness and a constantly cloudy sky ... The sadness is often softened by moments of simple comedy, showing the director’s desire to give some possibility to this ill-fated existence ...
Daniele Coluccini, CLOSE-UP (Italy)

Intense and uncompromising film, owing much to its great actors, putting on screen a very dark and never before seen vision, but with an opening of hope for a better future ... always finds a moment to get a smile from the audience with its ironic humour born almost involuntarily from the daily lives of the protagonists ... With little and essential dialogue, a test of a good director is that it changes for every character in style and tone, allowing the spectator to feel passionate about the characters...
Giuliana Steri, FILM UP (Italy)

A little Baltic pearl ... Explosive debut ... Directed with rigor and valid aesthetics, opting for a more static than moving camera and intrinsic editing ... Follows gracefully and above all ironically the lives of the six protagonists ...
Nicola Cupperi, NON SOLO CINEMA (Italy)

Certain atmospheres in the style of Michelangelo Antonioni, in the state of mind of the protagonists and the suburban landscape of Tallin, constantly cloudy, still conditioned by the ghosts of the Soviet Union ... SUGISBALL treats solitude not only as man’s destiny, but also as a result of social dynamics ... In this dense and demanding atmosphere, the director does not miss putting a comic vein in order to de-dramatize ... A good debut.
Emanuele Di Porto, SENTIERI SELVAGGI (Italy)