You say you want a revolution? You want to change the world? The Estonians did and succeeded. Their secret weapon was national song. The story is beautifully told in the documentary film The Singing Revolution.
Just how did the Estonians pull it off? As you can see from the film by James and Maureen Tusty, the challenge was daunting to say the least. Not only was their country filled with Soviet soldiers, there were new cities filled with Russians placed there to change the ethnic balance. The Soviet plan was to eventually eliminate all trace of Estonian culture. Many traditional practices and holidays had been outlawed. Ironically, the Soviets thought that they could use Laulupidu, the Estonian song festival held every five years, for their own propaganda. Little did they realize that the Estonians could subtlety undermine the Soviet plan. With thirty thousand singers on the stage and 300,000 people in the amphitheater, nearly 30 percent of the entire population of the country was gathered. And they would not be denied their own songs!
Narrated by the actress Linda Hunt, The Singing Revolution uses historical films, recent interviews, and scenes from music rehearsals and festivals to weave together a powerful story that could inspire nonviolent revolution across the world. One of the wonderful aspects of the Estonian Revolution is that young, old , men, women, and people from all walks of life came together for a common purpose. There were moments when the movement could easily have fallen apart, but determined unarmed people stood in front of Soviet troops and sang.
The Singing Revolution has at this point been shown at film festivals, art houses, and public libraries. Thomas Ford will be showing it on Friday, March 6. We are excited about this opportunity. It is not yet in general theater distribution, but it is available in DVDs for home or for educational use from the Singing Revolution website.
2009 happens to be the year for the 25th Song Festival at Laulupidu. Details are at the festival website.