Literature. – The last decade has brought new voices and trends into Estonian literature. The attempt to rework the Soviet past characteristic of many works from the 1990s has been replaced by the interest in the new political and economic reality of the country. On the one hand, identity searches lead to the distant Finno-Ugric past, folklore and mythology. On the other hand, local everyday life is rethought in the international context, much more accessible to writers thanks to the greater mobility of the last decade.
In prose, the search for identity is represented by Mees, kes teadis ussisõnu (2007, The Man Who Knew the Language of Snakes) by Andrus Kivirähk, which deals with the serious themes of the extinction of cultures and regress in a grotesque style. Katkuhaud (2007, The Tomb of the Plague) by Ene Mihkelson is a philosophical novel centered on the trauma of Soviet repression. In the past also addresses the series of detective novels, began in 2010, Indrek Hargla, set in medieval Tallinn of ‘pharmacist Melchiorre’ (Apteeker Melchior, 2010 Apothecary Melchior), while Mesilased (2012; trans. It. The bees, 2015) by Meelis Friedenthal offers an insight into Estonian society at the end of the 17th century.
Among the authors who focus on current events, the nonconformist female point of view of the stories of Maarja Kangro is innovative (Ahvid ja solidarsus, 2010, The monkeys and solidarity). The recent prose of Tõnu Õnnepalu, one of the central authors of the last decade, continues the genre of autofiction (Flandria päevik, 2007, Diary of Flanders). A new phenomenon is constituted by the Estonian literature in the Russian language with the novels of Andrei Ivanov that deal with the problems of immigration in Estonia and in Europe (Putezhestvie Hanumana na Lolland, 2009, Hanuman’s journey to Lolland).
The popularity of non-fiction has grown thanks to the contribution of important poets such as Jaan Kaplinski, Hasso Krull and Valdur Mikita, who also try to rethink the present by drawing on the most archaic layers of the Estonian linguistic and cultural tradition.
In poetry the attempt to understand the essence of the present and of everyday life in free verse dominates. The style of Jürgen Rooste, a poet from Tallinn, is robust and empathetic (Higgsi boson, 2012, The Higgs boson). The erudite play and formal research instead distinguish the poetry of Maarja Kangro (The butterfly of irreversibility, 2011), Hasso Krull (Neli korda neli, 2009, Quattro per quattro) and Kalju Kruusa (pseud. By Jaanus Valk; The fifth wheel spare, 2012). Kristiina Ehin represents the lyrical side of the great Estonian female poetic tradition (Kaitseala, 2005, Protected area). Ene Mihkelson, Jaan Kaplinski and Doris Kareva (The shadow of time, 2011) continue to be high-level ‘classic’ authors.
In recent years, the strong tradition of children’s literature has also established itself internationally with Aino Pervik, Piret Raud and Kristiina Kass.
Cinema. – Estonian cinematography was born only in 1991, with the return to independence of the country, after the Soviet occupation which lasted 73 years. In fact, throughout this period, cinema in Estonia had had great development, both in the production of documentaries and in fictional cinema, and in animation (the latter genre, of which there are still refined producers). However, it can be said with some conviction that Estonian cinematography, albeit in an unorganized form as such, had emerged as early as the 1960s. If on the one hand, in fact, the Soviet production system tended to centralize every phase of the creation of a film in Moscow, on the other, however, a real ‘national cinema’ was born with works that were rooted in Estonian culture.
With independence, Estonian cinema has mainly focused on themes that were previously impossible to represent. The consequences of the long foreign occupation, the legacy of deportation, but also the new life in the cities, the relationships between things and people, the changing time have become the most frequent subject since the early 2000s. The directors prove to be extremely tense towards the contamination of realism and fiction, the freedom of the gaze and a frank and overbearing modernity. Jaak Kilmi (b.1973), Andres Maimik (b.1970), Priit Valkna (b.1971) and Sulev Keedus (b.1957) are the example, with their films, of the kaleidoscope of signs that Estonia is producing, once again between the past and the future. Among the films, we must mention at least Klass (2007) by Ilmar Raag, Püha Tõnu kiusamine (2009, known as The temptation of st. Tony) by Veiko Õunpuu and Disko ja tuumasõda (2009, known as Disco and atomic war) by Jaak Kilmi.