Nourishing and unexpectedly moving, director Marta Pulk’s documentary takes us to theatre-mad Estonia, where a young, inexperienced woman wins a job to watch and critique every theatre production in a calendar year.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
A Year Full of Drama revolves around an experiment in the form of a job listing: a paid position for someone who has never been to the theatre before, to watch and review theatre full-time for a year.
Hundreds of applications from across Estonia pour in and a candidate is selected: 21-year-old Alissija, a magnetic, working class girl from a rural, Russian-speaking family. Adrift and curious, she packs up and moves to the capital for a year-long immersion into the country’s performing arts scene.
This intimate documentary charts Alissija’s coming of age as she contests with loneliness, doubt and writer’s block. “I don’t know how to live,” she declares, more than once. Through patient, perceptive camerawork, we watch as Alissija settles into her role as audience member and critic. As the months pass, the shows she attends begin to provoke a questioning of her own life; her traumas, fears and ambitions. One year and 224 shows later, she is a changed woman.
With its gentle pace and poignant observations, director Marta Pulk’s empathetic portrait of a young person coming into their own is energising and honest, making a strong case for the notion that art really can transform a life. — Amanda Jane Robinson
About the Filmmaker
Marta Pulk holds a master’s degree in filmmaking from the Baltic Film and Media School. Her short films are characterised by a relentless interest towards the human spirit and societal themes. A Year Full of Drama is her debut feature.