FILMMAKERS' COMMENTS by Maureen and James Tusty
We are often asked how it came to be that we made this film. This is the story.Because of Jims family heritage, we chose to teach semester-long filmmaking courses at an Estonian university in 1999 and 2001, and that's how it all began...
While there, we learned about the Singing Revolution. We did not learn about it all at once, but step by step, much as Estonia won its freedomsmall step by small step.
By 2003, we were determined to tell this story to the rest of the world. We had found virtually no one outside the Baltics who knew of the Singing Revolution. And yet it was one of the most amazing stories we had ever heard.
Laulupidu, the Estonian song festival held every five years that features 30,000 singers on stage, was to be held in 2004. Laulupidu played a key role in keeping hope alive during the Soviet occupation, and it was critical to capture it on film. If we missed shooting Laulupidu in 2004, the next festival wouldn't take place until 2009.
Even without any funds in place, we didn't want to wait another five years. So we made the decision to shoot for forty days between February and July of 2004, and our film adventure was underway. We were soon assisted with our first funds from Olga and Walter Kistler, followed quickly by additional support from Steve and Karla Jurvetson.
Editing took nearly two years. The story was complicated, and we wanted to get our facts right. Our research for archival footage was also extensive. At times, lack of funding slowed us down, but we never stopped inching ahead as best as we could.
On December 1, 2006, The Singing Revolution premiered at the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn, Estonia. We had made the film for the rest of the world, but we could think of no better venue for our international premiere. We were deeply touched by the fifteen-minute standing ovation the Estonian audience gave us.
Please learn about the Singing Revolution. It is not just a story about Estoniaits also a story about humankinds irrepressible drive for freedom and self-determination.
We hope you find The Singing Revolution film to be as inspiring as we found the Singing Revolution itself.
James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty (USA) (on the left in the picture) are the primary filmmakers of The Singing Revolution. They conceived the film, meticulously researched the subject matter, and worked collaboratively as Producers/Directors/Writers on the project. This is the Tustys' first theatrical feature film. Prior to The Singing Revolution, they have separately and together produced hundreds of programs, including television programs, TV commercials, and international corporate films. Both have extensive international experience, having shot films in over thirty countries around the world. Maureens work has been seen on U.S. public television and she is an adjunct faculty member of Tallinn University in Estonia, where she teaches film production. Jim has prior experience with Eastern European production. He produced several Russian language programs for McGraw-Hill that were shot in multiple locations in Russia in 1986 and 1988, and immediately after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, he produced a fifteen-part series on free market economics for Hungarian television. Maureen Castle Tusty and James Tusty together now run Sky Films Incorporated, which is distributing The Singing Revolution.Mike Majoros (USA) spent more than a year editing and writing the film. Together with Jim and Maureen, Mike played a major role in shaping the structure of the story...no easy task given the complexity of the history. He shares the Director/Writer credit with the Tustys. Mike has spent the last 20 years making feature-length documentaries about a broad range of subjects: Maasai warriors from Kenya marketing their culture in the US, homeless men surviving on the streets, veterans protesting to raise awareness about the futility of the Vietnam war, and people in wheelchairs confronting an inadequate healthcare system. His work has received dozens of awards, and has been screened internationally at festivals including Sundance and Berlin, as well as on PBS. In 1985, he received his graduate degree from the MIT Media Lab, and later he taught thesis level film production at the Rhode Island School of Design for 15 years. He is currently producing a documentary about nomadic life Mongolia.
Bestor Cram (USA) has over twenty years of experience as a director, producer and cinematographer. A friend of the Tustys for decades, Bestor was involved from the very beginning in formulating the creative approach to this story. He founded Northern Light in 1982, and has built it into one of the premiere documentary production companies producing works ranging from broadcast documentaries to historical, dramatic and educational media to Fortune 500 image pieces. As a cinematographer, Bestor has filmed and videotaped for all the major networks. The company has won numerous awards and prizes for its work, and additionally, Bestor has won many grants and prizes for his independent work. His independent film, Unfinished Symphony , premiered at Sundance in the Documentary Competition in 2001 and has won top honors at film festivals around the world. Bestor holds a BA in economics from Denison University, pursued graduate studies at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Guildford , England , and has taught film at MIT, and the Maine Film & Television Workshops. He is a Vietnam Veteran.
Piret Tibbo-Hudgins (Estonia) worked as a Producer in Estonian state film studio Tallinnfilm after graduating in 1985 from All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow. Piret was the key Estonian producer for The Singing Revolution post-production and distribution. She helped with archival footage, negotiated Estonian contracts, and launched the film very successfully in Estonia. Over a five-year period from 1986-91 she produced three feature films. In the beginning of 90's she became a freelance filmmaker in different international productions. In 1995 Piret co-founded Allfilm and was a Managing Director of company until 2002. Since 2002 she has been working again as a Producer. For the fourth year, she is lecturing audiovisual management, first at Tallinn University, now at Baltic Film and Media School.
Artur Talvik (Estonia) is currently a partner and producer at the production company Ruut. Artur worked closely with the Tustys in the early stages of the project, organizing the first promotional trailer, supervising location shooting in Estonia, and introducing the Tustys to numerous Singing Revolution leaders who ended up in the film. He graduated from the Higher Theatre School of the Estonian Music Academy majoring in acting and has previously worked as a stage actor and a radio reporter, freelanced as a film producer and director and led the Council of the Estonian Film Foundation. Before becoming a partner at Ruut, he was one of the owners of the film studio Allfilm. Talvik has produced and directed more than ten documentary films, more than a hundred commercials, and produced five feature films; among them, the Estonian-German co-production Kõrini! (Fed Up! Ruut/Saxonia Media 2006).