BaltHerNet Summer School Values Audiovisual Heritage

July 10, 2014

BaltHerNet Summer School 2014 “Estonian Cultural Heritage Abroad” took place from 26-30 June in Tallinn and Viinistu. The sixth annual meeting of heritage preservers emphasised, in particular, the value of film and audiovisual material, its storage and use as research material. Over 40 people from eight different countries took part in the four-day programme.

Courses took place in Tallinn on the opening day of the summer school, where specialists from the National Archives explained concerns over documents, films, photos and audio collections. Also introduced was an Internet database which is currently being developed, but is already being used in some Estonian archives abroad.

The following three days brought the focus to film: how to handle film as a historical source, how to preserve important films, process, digitise and use, how expatriate Estonian documentaries are born, as well as how to find and unlock hidden private collections. The latter ties in with biographies and memoires, along with contemporary visual recordings, which have become easy to access and in part, become part of mass culture. An overview of the Estonian Memory Institutions’ project “Attacks and Migrations” was given by Kadri Viires (Museum of Occupations). The emotional film by Eric Soovere was inspired by this project. Gerd Raassalu (Estonian National Museum), Ivi Tomingas (National Archives), and .., and Anu Korb (Literature Museum) spoke about different sections of NEWS Diaspora conference and oral history day in Tallinn This fall the Baltic community is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the great escape that took thousands of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians to the West. In affiliation with that, the Estonian Diaspora Academy in collaboration with Tallinn University Institute of History and Expatriate Estonian Literature Centre is organising a conference for migration and diaspora researchers as well as archivists and museologists who are active in the field. The event will take place in Tallinn University on September 18-19 2014. On September 20th an oral history day will be held in collaboration with the Estonian Museum of Occupations. There the floor will be given to representatives of the Estonian diaspora who can share their memories, life experience and opinions. A detailed programme will be made available on Latvian Archivists in Toronto This summer was eventful for Latvian archivists from the National Archives of Latvia. They got a chance to visit Latvian diaspora communities in Toronto and Hamilton, celebrate the XIV Latvian Song Festival in Canada, and participate Latvian Welfare Association “Daugavas Vanagi” Board meeting. Special thanks to Roland Weiler for an exciting tour in the Estonian Studies Centre in Toronto and inspiring us for future work! ongoing work with audiovisual materials in Estonian memory institutions.

The floor was given to researchers and filmmakers. Leeni Langebraun presented the Caucasian Estonian heritage and called to create a common platform for photographic materials within the Estonian communities. Helga Merits spoke about the documentary “Class of 1943”. Marko Raat highlighted the troubles and joys of putting together a documentary film about Edgar Väär (aka Fast Eddy) who worked as a reporter in Canada and apart that also captured thousands of hours of film regarding expatriate Estonian events. Reet Mae from Toronto introduced the illuminating documentary “Keepers of the Loom”, and Jaanis Valk told the fascinating story of Ahto Valter, the first Estonian to travel around the world, seeking to follow the traveller in his footsteps, to produce a unique documentary film through oral tradition, archival finds and information from private collections. Piret Noorhani and Kadi Kuivits presented film heritage at the Museum of Estonians Abroad/Estonian Studies Centre. Liisi Eglit spoke about the Stanford University video interview project. Anna Hints, representative for the Estonian project “Kogu Me Lugu” gave an eloquent talk about the importance of telling our stories. She said: “Everyone’s story is valuable, everyone can make a movie or write a book, everyone has an obligation to their loved ones to tell their story, and why not make it in an audiovisual manner, which can easily be passed down from generation to generation”. With the help of “Kogu Me Lugu”, some stories were even recorded at Summer School.

As with every summer, the NPA Baltic Heritage Network held their annual general meeting. Along with practical activities, lectures, and film screenings, Julia De Sotto’s (Canada) show “I Remember Mama” was also shown. There was a walking excursion with Jaan Manitski through Viinistu’s centre and an excursion to Mohni Island.

The NPA Baltic Heritage Network thanks everyone who took part and helped, as well as the Viinistu Culture and Conference Centre for hosting the Summer School. Thank you as well to the Compatriot’s Programme for their monetary donation.

Birgit Kibal (NPA Baltic Heritage Network / National Archives)