Combining Methods of Fiction Film and Documentary Television:

A New Style of Storytelling in Our Artur (Meie Artur, 1968) by Grigori Kromanov and Mati Põldre

Riho Västrik

 

The first years of the Tallinn Television Studio, founded in 1955, were spent on discovering the specifics of television language. The directors were mostly people with education in the field of theatre, which explains why documentary programmes were evaluated according to their theatrical attractiveness. Experiments were made with putting the real people on the screen, as well as exploring the effect of temporal simultaneity. The name of the studio was changed to Eesti Televisioon (ETV) in 1965, and Eesti Telefilm as a department of ETV was established. Regular movement of the directors and cinematographers between the state-owned film studio Tallinnfilm and Eesti Telefilm begun.

 

Grigori Kromanov, a graduate of the State Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS), was a director at the Tallinn Television Studio in 1956–1961 and the director-in-chief in 1962–1963. Then he moved to Tallinnfilm and worked as a feature film director until 1981. In 1966 Kromanov began filming Artur Rinne, a popular singer, as a contractor of Eesti Telefilm. Considering the era, Kromanov had free hands in terms of film style, message and even the length of the production. Mati Põldre who had established himself as a cinematographer, became his co-director at Kromanov’s request. The different profiles of the two authors were combined, developing a formula in which 1 + 1> 2. The authors managed to integrate the techniques of live television and feature film in an hour-long documentary that expressed ideologically bold messages, attracted a positive critical reception and became a great success with the audiences.

 

Riho Västrik is an associate professor at Tallinn University Baltic Film, Media and Arts School (BFM). His early career was connected with radio and television. As a graduate of the history department of Tartu University he was involved in current events and news programmes. After master’s studies at BFM, he became a teacher of documentary and started his research on Estonian documentaries in the Soviet period. He has published scholarly articles in the Baltic Screen Media Review, produced over 50 and directed more than 20 documentaries.