WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY TERJE TOOMISTU
DOCUMENTARY, 75/52 min., 2017
Thrilled by the rock music, inspired by the love and peace cult, the young long-haired drop-outs were craving for freedom and created their own system in the Soviet Union despite the strict regime of 1970s.
A wild flower power ride on the footprints of the Soviet hippie movement take you into the psychedelic underground of 1970s. In search of freedom and happiness under the thumb of political regimes a colorful crowd of artists, musicians, freaks, vagabonds and other long-haired drop-outs created their own system in the Soviet Union. Years later, a group of eccentric hippies from Estonia take a road journey to Moscow where people still gather annually on the 1st of June to commemorate a tragic event in 1971, when thousands of hippies were arrested by the KGB.
We are currently witnessing the rise of authoritarianism in areas of the world which we believed to be democratic and humane. Recent setbacks in the struggles for social justice and the occurrence of wars – also in Ukraine – increases the importance of provoking public discussion on the idea of non-violence and shedding light on the history of the pacifist movement in Eastern Europe and Russia.
The documentary proposes an alternative trajectory in global cultural memory, demonstrating the vast creative potential that emerged and endured within the settings of the totalitarian regime. It’s a story of an underground yet explosive youth counter-culture, which shifts the meaning of what was widely known to be “the hippie movement” and believed to be the Soviet era.
The film raises important points about the workings of power and the politics of ecstasy, tackling the question of freedom and self-fulfillment. Is freedom an outward-looking social quality that is achieved via means of protest and active engagement? Or is it rather an inward-looking journey, an escapist lonerism, a spiritual path? Soviet hippies struggled for their sense of freedom in many ways, but their active engagement with politics either ended up badly or didn’t change anything for the better. When thinking about the socio-political landscape of contemporary Russia, these questions reoccur in frightening clarity.
The story of the main protagonist, Aare, suggests that being trapped by a body which is ill leaves little choice but to focus on the vast potential of internal dreamscapes. But how to deal with the feeling of being trapped by a society which is ill?
Director/author: Terje Toomistu
Producer: Liis Lepik (Kultusfilm)
Coproducers: Sarita Sharma (Kinomaton), Sami Jahnukainen (Mouka Filmi)
Cinematographer: Taavi Arus
Editor: Martin Männik
Sound design: Seppo Vanhatalo
World sales: Wide House
In coproduction with: Arte, MDR, YLE
Financed by: Estonian Film Institute, Estonian Film Endowment, Estonian Gambling Tax Council, AVEK, people through crowdfunding platform „Hooandja“
Screenings: Helsinki IFF, São Paulo IFF, DOK Leipzig, EstDocs FF Toronto...
Awards: Jury Award (EstDocs Film Festival Toronto), Sky ARTE HD Award (Trieste Film Festival)
Nominations: MDR Film Prize; special programme DOK Busters (DOK Leipzig IFF)
Facebook page/community: www.facebook.com/soviethippies
The film is complemented by our web series "Alternative Russia": www.arte.tv/alternative_russia