September 20, 2020

Film honors Estonian revolution

By Elaina Horowitz

‘The Singing Revolution’ tells the story of Estonia’s non-violent rebellion. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Assistant)
‘The Singing Revolution’ tells the story of Estonia’s non-violent rebellion. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Assistant)

When a nation is faced with invasion, what is the appropriate plan of action? For the tiny country of Estonia, the answer was singing.

Nov. 10 was part of the two day film festival in the library auditorium commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the deterioration of communism. The event featured filmmakers Jim and Maureen Tusty and their film, “The Singing Revolution.”

The film focuses on the Soviet occupation in Estonia and Laulupidu, the Estonian song festival held every five years, which continued despite Soviet efforts to rid the country of anything from pre-Soviet domination.

The song festival, which last took place in July, is an opportunity to experience national identity for Estonians. In Tallinn, Estonia, the festival included nearly 30,000 singers.

“Think of half of Yankee Stadium singing in unity,” Jim Tusty said.

The Tustys learned of Estonia’s non-violent revolution while teaching a filmmaking course in Estonia in 1999. The film was released in 2006 at the Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia. According to the filmmakers, the response was so positive that today the film is shown in Estonian schools to educate students of their country’s history.

“You could feel the power of the people,” said Meaghan Castle, a freshman at Arcadia University and niece to the Tusty’s.

The film’s screening was also attended by students and many from the surrounding community, including local Estonians.

“You can’t underestimate the power of rock and roll. Give peace a chance,” said Bill Walto, a Ewing citizen.

Leatrice Taling, an Estonian woman who now lives in Kendall Park, N.J., said, “I have been waiting for that film.”

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