some history. Unlike the rest of Eastern Europe—you know,
Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary—three countries
were “absorbed” into the Soviet Union’s “sphere of influence”
before World War II. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were
swallowed whole by Stalin courtesy of a secret deal between
the Soviets and Nazi Germany in 1939. The usual brutality
and repression followed immediately.
Flash-forward to 1969, the 100th anniversary of Laulupidu,
the Estonian song festival. In defiance of the Soviets,
30,000 people—yes, 30,000—sang “Land of My Fathers,
Land That I Love,” a nationalist Estonian song. This was
the beginning of a “nonviolent march to freedom,” a journey
that ended with the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991, and
is documented by filmmakers James Tusty and Maureen Castle
Tusty in the film The Singing Revolution.
Reached recently via a sort of “conference call” by cell
phone—they were in two different corners of the United States—they
talked about their film.
The Tustys, longtime documentary filmmakers for public TV,
first became aware of the story while on a teaching job
in Estonia a few years ago.
we were living there, people would just start sharing stories,”
remembers Maureen. “We’d be out to dinner with some new
friends, and they’d start talking about this time period.
I think there wasn’t anyone, who, when they talked about
this, didn’t get choked up, and tie it into their family
just started to realize how powerful the story was,” she
adds. She soon realized that hardly anyone they talked with—in
Western Europe or the United States—had ever heard the story.
little of it [the Baltic protests against the U.S.S.R.]
made the U.S. news,” James says.
of my favorite lines in the film,” James remembers, “is
at the very beginning, and is ‘patience is a weapon, and
caution a virtue.’ I think in the instantaneous gratification
culture we live in in North America—and I don’t know, perhaps
in Europe, too—[this] is just something we don’t understand.
The profundity of how the Estonians did it.”
we have come to nickname it ‘the perfect storm,’ ” Maureen
says. The serendipity, the confluence of all these events:
The economic crisis in the Soviet Union, and the political
actions they took. . . . They needed the mass demonstrations
to show that the people were behind them. It all kind of
worked in tandem, and not necessarily intentionally,” she
At first, the Estonians themselves didn’t see the importance
of their own story.
people singing a song in 1947, that would have been 300,000
people going to Siberia,” James notes.
He remembered telling Estonian friends, “You did it [in
1991], and you got away with it.”
Singing Revolution opens tomorrow (Friday, March 21)
at the Spectrum 8 Theatres (290 Delaware Ave., Albany).
For showtimes, call 449-8995.
California’s emo/cock-rock car wreck known as Avenged Sevenfold
will headline the RockStar Energy Drink Taste of Chaos tour’s
stop at the Washington Avenue Armory this Saturday. Their
tourmates, including their California neighbors Atreyu and
Britain’s Bullet for My Valentine, are drawn together by
their love for bad tattoos, ‘80s-inspired guitar solos and
emo-motional choruses. The mascara color alert for this
show is dark, dark, dark, purple.
enough, the above bands also will be joined by what is being
billed as “Jock Revolution Invades America,” which is a
number of well-known Japanese artists including Mucc D’Espairsray
and the Underneath. These Japanese bands share a love for
darkness and despair and mix overwrought melody with grand
orchestral goth rock. This show should be something to hear.
The mascara alert level for the j-rock extravaganza is deep
Avenged Sevenfold (and the rest) will thrash the Washington
Avenue Armory (195 Washington Ave., Albany) at 5 PM on Saturday
(March 22). Tickets are $35.25. For more information or
to buy tickets, call the Armory box office at 694-7160 ext.