When James and Maureen Tusty went to the Eastern European country of Estonia in 1999, they hadn’t heard of its singing revolution. Nor had many of their friends. In fact, it seemed the story hadn’t left the Baltic region at all.
But it was a story that blew the couple away, thanks to a combination of its immensity and Estonians’ quietness about it. From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, its residents gathered to sing protest songs in massive, nonviolent demonstrations, imploring the Soviet Union to grant the country independence.
“We just felt really compelled to make the film,” James Tusty said. “If not now, when, and if not us, who?”
The Tustys were in Estonia to teach filmmaking; they decided to make a film about the events. The Singing Revolution was released in the United States at the end of 2007, and the Tustys will be on hand for a Saturday screening at the Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock at 3 p.m. It’s part of the 4th Annual Woodstock Vermont Film Series, which will run through April.
James Tusty gave three reasons for the obscurity of the story:
∎ Estonia is a small country. Official statistics put its 2012 population at 1.3 million, approximately the same as New Hampshire.
∎ Estonians despise bragging “more than any culture I have ever dealt with,” Tusty said.
∎ The revolution wasn’t violent.