Sunday, July 13, 2008

Singing Revolution Review

Well, I have to confess to not getting to the Gallery Crawl on Friday Night, or Doo Da Days on Saturday or any of the other events of the weekends cultural orgy. I did however see the movie, Singing Revolution and I have a few random thoughts.

My first thought is that You Should Se This Movie. I want to put that out there first, just in case any pimples I found turn you off.I give the film, an A-.

I'm part Polish and raised mostly by my mom and the "Polish wing" of the family, which gave me some familiarity with Baltic history, The Hitler Molitov Pact, The Pottsdam Conference, I even knew what a Forest Brother was.

So, anyway I came to the film knowing that the Estonian people had an amazing story to tell and a long list of questions about their history. I think I was dumb to think, that all of this could have been captured in one film. The directors, wisely didn't try to create seven hour melodrama mentioning every twist and turn, unsung hero, lost folk song and nameless grave in Estonian history. They pretty quickly leap to the post war era and some of the events of the "Singing Revolution" which helped bring Estonia it's independence. Most of the major political actors are included.

There is something very Estonian about the production itself. It's a well organised, simple documentary that tells a tale without dwelling on scars and revenge. The music is often amazing, and I wished very much that there could have been more of it and information and detail about it. Also, there was less historical footage of protests in the Soviet period since they were living in a police state.

Another, perhaps Typically Estonian aspect of the film is the lack of hype and crowing about Estonia's amazing economic transformation since independence.

"As a member of the European Union Estonia´s economy is rated as ▲high income by the World Bank. The level of the Estonian economy Estonian economic miracle has been often being described as the Baltic Tiger.

Since re-establishing independence, Estonia has styled itself as the gateway between East and West and aggressively pursued economic reform and integration with the West. Estonia's market reforms put it among the economic leaders in the former COMECON area. In 1994, Estonia became one of the first countries in the world to adopt a flat tax, with a uniform rate of 26% regardless of personal income. In January 2005 the personal income tax rate was reduced to 24%. A subsequent reduction to 23% followed in January 2006. The income tax rate will be decreased by 1% annually to reach 18% by January 2010. The Government of Estonia finalized the design of Estonia's euro coins in late 2004, and is now intending to adopt the euro as the country's currency between 2011 and 2013, later than planned due to continued high inflation. In 1999, Estonia experienced its worst year economically since it regained independence in 1991, largely because of the impact of the August 1998 Russian financial crisis. Estonia joined the WTO in November 1999. With assistance from the European Union, the World Bank and the Nordic Investment Bank, Estonia completed most of its preparations for European Union membership by the end of 2002 and now has one of the strongest economies of the new member states of the European Union.

A balanced budget, almost non-existent public debt, flat-rate income tax, free trade regime, fully convertible currency backed by currency board and a strong peg to the euro, competitive commercial banking sector, hospitable environment for foreign investment, innovative e-Services and even mobile-based services are all hallmarks of Estonia's free-market-based economy."

The film has a lot of footage shot in what seems to be an obviously successful culturaly rich country and many of the interviewed speak of how happy they are to be free. I do think a few bows, would have placed the film in more perspective since by almost any measure of human development, Estonia seems to rank well.

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