Triin Ruumet is an Estonian screenwriter and director. Her feature film debut, The Days That Confused, premiered at Tallinn Black Nights, Stockholm and Karlovy Vary, where it won the Special Jury Prize.
In an exclusive interview with Filmatique, Triim Ruumet discusses the day when Estonian youth had to learn to grow up, violence as a form of femininity and her next project.
FILMATIQUE: The Days that Confusedfollows Allar as he moves from place to place, circumstance to circumstance, with ostensibly little direction. Of course, this serves to underline not just Allar's motto that "life is one long party," but also the randomness of existence. How did you formulate this character of Allar and how does he represent common experiences of both Estonian young-adults, and young adults more generally?
TRIIN RUUMET: I never really formulate characters, they just appear and grow on their own. This is my way of formulating: I see an image, I feel a feeling and then it somehow reminds me of Allar or any other character. I think it just represents this one moment of life when you have to decide whether to grow up or not— this seems to be a international thing, growing up and learning to be independent. But if we translate this character to Estonia, then it may represent our independence and the nineties when we tried to start growing up.
FLMTQ: Setting the film in the 90s not only makes way for rather colorful characters, as well as musical and stylistic flourishes; it also roots The Days that Confused squarely in a society in transition: Estonia right after the wall came down. What was this experience like for the average Estonian youth? What were their hopes, their sources of anxiety, their preoccupations?
TR: I think that everyone wanted to be a business person. Everyone wanted to be respected, independent, rich and famous, because before it was not a theme of life. But if life does not give you that… you go to the dark side. It was very common at that time.
FLMTQ: Some critics have noted the interesting contrast of a film with such masculine themes being directed by a female filmmaker. What does it mean to you to be a female filmmaker? Is it a way that you would necessarily define yourself? What attracted you to the confusion, violence and masculinity that defines Allar's journey?
TR: To respond to that question we have to ask, what the fuck is femininity? Motherhood, pink colors and sensitive feelings? No, not always. I think that things like violence, confusion and power can also represent femininity. I just expressed this story through a male character.
But femininity inside me is a savage power and we cannot categorize these themes in that binary way anymore. So if those themes belong to my inner feelings they attract me on the artistic level as well.
FLMTQ: The Days that Confusedwas one of the most successful films of the past 20 years at the Estonian box office. Do you believe that there are certain lesson's in Allar's story that resonate with Estonians still today? To what do you attribute this success?
TR: Growing up and feeling empty will never go out of fashion when it comes to the human soul.
FLMTQ: Are you working on any new projects, and if so, can you tell us a bit about them?
TR: Yes, I am writing a new project at the moment. I want it to be dark, sexy and violent. Now we deal with girls.