Sisters Across the Gulf of Finland

Documentary, 2009
59 minutes

Director: Imbi Paju
Scenario: Imbi Paju
Camera: Ants Martin Vahur
Montage: Riitta Poikselkä
Music: Arvo Pärt, Lepo Sumera
Production: Pille Rünk, Allfilm (Estonia), Tiina Butter, Filmmagica (Finland)

The elderly women in the film ”Sisters across the Gulf of Finland” have all experienced hard times, but with their warm and kind nature, they give the viewer hope that good can defeat evil. In the light of their humanity we can see the darker side of mankind, that which comes to the fore through political violence, when people are forced to remain silent, to withdraw into themselves and to forget. The past is connected to the present when we see UN Special Representative Elisabeth Rehn, herself once a Girl Lotta, assisting civilian victims in crisis areas. The film shows how the patterns of violence tied to war keep repeating regardless of time or place.

Transcending Time
Review by Roland Campbell :
The film (Sisters Across te Gulf of Finland)tells the story of the bond between the women’s military auxiliary movements in Estonia and Finland, leading up to and during WWII and their subsequent disbandment and omission from popular history. The story is told by way of present day interviews with former members of the movement and rare archival footage from WWII. The interviews, pristine in appearance, provided personal time-filtered recollections of various elderly members compared to the grainy black and white archival footage which allowed for historical context and drove the narrative forward. They both act as windows to the past, one through the eyes, the window to the soul and the other through the lens of a camera.
Toronto, Estdocs 09

ABOUT IMBI PAJU

Film director, author and journalist Imbi Paju has won international
attention with “Memories Denied” (2005), her awardwinning
documentary film and book of the same name. Both the
film and the book deal with her mother’s experiences in a Soviet
slave labor camp, the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union
and Nazi Germany, and the attempts by totalitarian regimes to
destroy human memory. Paju has been praised for her ability
to visually portray traumas of the past, something that is hard
to do with words alone. “Memories Denied” shows us how the
tragedy of an individual family repeated over and over gradually
becomes a national tragedy, a part of the collective but interrupted
European narrative, silenced by occupations and the cold
reality of politics.
“Memories Denied” has been translated and published in Estonian,
Finnish, Swedish, English and Russian.
In 2007 it was selected for use in the Swedish school program
“Living History”, which deals with both Nazi and Communist
crimes. In 2008 the film “Memories Denied” was translated into
Russian, as was the book in 2009. Since then Paju has travelled
around Estonia presenting the book to Russian-speaking
communities and has had the pleasure to meet with students,
teachers, community groups, and others.

In 2009, Paju and Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen publisheda collection of essays entitled
“Fear Was Behind Everything.How Estonia Lost its History and How to Get it Back”(WSOY)
which further develops the same themes. The year 2009 saw the premiere of her new documentary
film “Sisters across the Gulf of Finland”, which deals with terror, totalitarianism and humanity
in the next step on the search for the truth.

2011/2012- She published psychological-historical best-sellers nonfiction Sisters Across the Gulf of Finland. Watching the Pain of Others.
(publisher Like 2011/Finland;2012 Hea Lugu/Estonia). Is a story about how Estonian, Finnish and other Scandinavian women around Baltic Sea worked together to prevent
the onset of crisis and war their own unique actions. “Sisters Across The Gulf of Finland. Watching the Pain of Others ” reveals the pains left to us as an inheritance by the past.
Imbi Paju examines the way in which we look at each other, ourselves and our history. The stories of these women refresh our memories and call to mind
the pages of our story hidden in the silence of history.

Imbi Paju has lectured and taken part in numerous seminars and deliberations
about the crimes of communism and historical denial. Discussions inspired by her book and film in
Estonia, Finland, Germany, Norway,Sweden,Denmark,Taiwan,Ireland, Greece,Israel and the United States have helped open a dialogue in Europe as well as North America.
This discussion continues with increasing clarity and urgency.

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