115 min / black & white / Estonia, Poland, The Netherlands / 2017 / world premiere
Acquired for US distribution by Oscilloscope earlier this week, NOVEMBER wins Best Cinematography in Tribeca’s International Narrative Competition. NOVEMBER’s DoP is Mart Taniel (Estonia). The jury consisted of Willem Dafoe, Peter Fonda, Alessandro Nivola, Ruth Wilson and Tavi Gevinson.
Based on Estonian author Andrus Kivirähk’s bestselling cult novel, Rehepapp, Rainer Sarnet’s third feature is a bold, twisted fairy tale about unrequited love. NOVEMBER is set in a pagan Estonian village where werewolves, the plague, and the spirits roam. The villagers’ main problem is how to survive the cold, dark winter. And, to that aim, nothing is taboo. People steal from each other, from their German manor lords, from spirits, the devil, and from Christ. They are willing to give away their souls to thieving creatures made of wood and metal called kratts, who help their masters whose soul they purchased steal even more.
Young Liina (Rea Lest) is hopelessly in love with Hans (Jörgen Liik), a nearby farm-hand, whose heart she loses to the daughter of the German manor lord. In order to regain his love, Liina turns to any means necessary, even if that means tapping into the black magic that is circling around the village. Estonian pagan legends and Christian mythologies come to a spell-binding intersection in NOVEMBER.
In his 48 years of existence, Rainer Sarnet has directed five films, lived with three women, accumulated about ten friends, passionately loved Fassbinder and directed theater plays by Przybyszewski, Gorky, and Jelinek. He mostly writes his own scripts but usually bases them on literary classics. He is captivated by the different facets of the human soul. This was evident in his screen adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s THE IDIOT (2011). Following in Dostoyevsky’s footsteps, Sarnet believes one must focus on that which upholds man and culture so that they do not become devalued and start placing value in the banal.