In the Crosswind

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    In the Crosswind


    Directed by



    87 min

    • Estonian

    Drama, Period drama

    Toronto IFF - World Cinema

    14 June 1941. Without warning tens of thousands of people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were removed from their homes. Without any sort of trial men faced being sent to prison camps and women and children were deported to Siberia. The aim of this extraordinary operation – carried out on the orders of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin – was to purge the Baltic countries of their native inhabitants.
    Erna, happily married and the mother of a young daughter, is sent to Siberia. For her, time takes on another dimension. Fighting starvation and humiliation in inhuman conditions, her soul seeks and finds freedom in the letters she sends to her husband who has been sentenced to prison camp. Even so, the years in Siberia rob Erna of something much more precious than just her youth.
    This film is based on a true story and uses extraordinary visual techniques and language to tell the heart-wrenching tale of the fate of thousands of Estonians.


    Show All Awards Show Less Awards
    • Ecumenical Jury Award - Warsaw IFF
    • Artistic Achievement Award - Thessaloniki IFF
    • Special Jury Mention for Cinematography - Mannheim Heidelberg IFF
    • Best Cinematography, Estonian Film Award, FICC Don Quixote Award for Best Film - Black Nights FF
    • Special Mention (Grand Jury Prize) - Angers European First FF
    • Audience Award - Göteborg FF


    Labels & Line Ups


    Laura Peterson
    Tarmo Song
    Mirt Preegel
    Ingrid Isotamm
    Einar Hillep
    Martti Helde
    Erik Põllumaa
    Liis Nimik
    Pärt Uusberg

    Director's Statement

    Few years ago now I was doing a photo research in the archive. An archive ladie handed me an old notebook saying: „You should read, young man! Don't just stare at the pictures“. This thin notebook was a Siberian-diary of a young Estonian woman Erna Nagel.
    The content of this remarkable diary became groundwork of my film. And the author of it, an incredibly sharp observer, became my main character.
    It is a Soviet holocaust story, but the most important issue for me is a theme of freedom and first of all, freedom of the human mind.



    “In The Crosswind” is one of the most courageous and intrinsically detailed feature debuts we’ve ever seen.

    Nikola Grozdanovic, Indiewire

    Black and white tableaux vivants in an impressive first film.

    Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

    Martti Helde

    Martti Helde


    I'm guided by my inner feelings - what gets me going, what is important to create for society.

    Martti Helde is an award-winning writer, director and a playwright, born in Estonia. His first feature length period drama IN THE CROSSWING (2014) received a wide resonance in international media and was awarded as the Best Estonian Film by th e Estonian Film Journalists Association (member of FIPRESCI). The same year, the film was selected for the international Toronto Film Festival, making IN THE CROSSWIND the first Estonian film included in the festival’s main programme. His film SCANDINAVIAN SILENCE (2019) had its European premiere in Karlovy Vary’s East of the West competition where it won the Europa Cinemas Label Award.
    Martti Helde is a highly valued young author for his daring ideas and innovative approach to the form and language of the film. His creative handwriting is characterized by tying together complex and diverse mediums; as well as Helde’s passion to pla y with the dramaturgy and form – attributes that are vividly demonstrated in all of his works.

    Selected Filmography