Tallinn 2011 Ends: World of Glass / 60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero
After a few days of unseasonably warm temperatures hovering around 0 Celsius and above, the temperature dropped for the final night of Tallinn 2011 activities. 60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero was originally intended for August, 2011, but delays in the project pushed it back until it was finally scheduled as one of the final performances of the year's Tallinn 2011 festivities. Intended as a peaceful but committed protest against increased commercialism in film, 60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero brought together fifty filmmakers from around the globe, each asked to contribute a one-minute film with few ground rules other than no dialoguethough even that rule was ultimately broken in some cases.
The films were spliced together by creators Veiko Ōunpuu and Taavi Eelmaa, and shown at the Cruise Ship Dock of the Port of Talliinn, on a special screen built specifically for the project, with live music performed by Ülo Krigul. This would be a one-time viewing of the film; at the end of the performance, everything was to be destroyedthe film, the projector and the screennever to be shown again, and never to be marketed or broadcast for profit. The only thing remaining would be a small booklet, given to everyone who attended the screening...and, of course, their memories of this unique performance.
Arriving at the port by bus and walking the quarter kilometer to the Port, it became progressively colder as the 19:30 start time approached. Warm drinks were served, and most were dressed for the weather, but it was hard not to feel the bitterly damp wind coming from the sea, as a small boat arrived with the organizers of the project and a good number of the filmmakers. A brief introduction cited the death of celluloid and, with the rise of digital media, the death of film as a means of independent expression. While it's true that commercial concerns rule the larger film market, that there were this many filmmakers still making art films argues, in some ways, directly against 60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero's founding premise. And so, the film began with a rather dire suggestion of no future, even as the performance itself made clear that there is one.
The films varied, from dark depictions of ecologically ruined landscapes to, from American director Brian Yuzna (best known for low budget horror films like 1993's Return of the Living Dead III, 2003's Beyond Re-Animator and producer of bigger budget movies like 1989's Honey I Shrunk the Kids), the comical "Peter and the Wolfman," a black and white film where an undershirt-clothed man went through an transformation...almost. The music was largely electronic in nature and dirge-like in its plodding inevitability, occasionally overburdening films that, in some cases, were a tad too serious for their own good.
But as the final segment finished, attention was drawn to behind the crowd, where the projector suddenly burst into flames and, with a film reel in hand, a man appeared on fire, running along the top of a wall abutting the Port. As the equipment burned to cinders, there was a brief explosion of fire by the large screen but, unfortunately, the unexpected happened and its complete destruction failed. Still, the point was made, and the crowd of about 1,500, who braved the icy cold, left the Port of Tallinn knowing that they'd been participants in yet another unique project for Tallinn 2011, one that will never be repeated.
With a closing ceremony at the Seaplane Port Hangerswhere, in addition to a sumptuous buffet dinner for the thousand or so invitees, there were brief speeches from Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar, Estonian Minister of Culture Rein Lang and othersa closing multimedia performance, Echoes, was something of a letdown after World of Glass and 60 Seconds of Solitude. With projections on a submarine that took up nearly the entire length of the hangar, as well as a choir, dancers (some floating above the audience) and additional musicians, the performance simply wasn't able to get past the poor, boomy and echo-laden acoustics, nor was it sufficiently larger-than-life to grab and keep the attention of most of the audience.
Still, with the handing over of European Capital of Culture titles to Guimarães, Portugal and Maribor, Solvenia, there were plenty of reminders of Tallin 2011's 7,000 cultural events and creative successes. The city's year as European Capital of Culture may be over, but there's no doubt that many of the events initiated during the year will result in ongoing projects for years to come.