“If you are born a Seto, you remain a Seto”– As this phrase from Setomaa suggests, being a Seto implies being a possessor of a cultural past which one can’t escape. “Läinud on Jäänud” is a story of three such individuals who in their own unique circumstances juggle between the exigencies of modernity and deep echoes of a cultural past. Stuck between these two competing worlds, the characters find a middle ground in their dreams through which they understand and express their innermost feelings and fears.
A 77 years old Seto woman has covered all the windows of her 300-year-old house in order to block the sight of a railway track which she had helped to build as a poverty-stricken 14-year-old girl in the Soviet Estonia. Her son was later killed on the very same track. Today her dead son often visits her in her dreams wearing traditional Seto clothes which they could not possess in real life. As these dreams unfold, will they ever infuse her with a strength to unleash her windows and confront the railway track outside her house to reclaim her losses from a time long gone by?
A 42 years old single mother chose to live a financially unstable life at her grandmother’s Seto house right at the border in a ghostly village with only one more living inhabitant. She holds a Seto belief that the village’s former dead inhabitants who are buried across the border in a lonely graveyard visit their old homes just before the winter engulfs the village in its chilling stronghold and give her a company by appearing in her dreams. With an upcoming border fence which will run around her village, she wonders if her grandmother would still want to visit her in her dreams with this fence in between.
A 50 years old Seto artist is haunted by an incomplete song by his grandfather which he had found sometime ago. Being a member of a Seto punk band, he often improvises on this narrative-based song to find an ending to it, but with repeated feelings of discontent. His dead grandfather has at times revealed to him realities lost to time and memories through dreams, like his christian name. He wonders if his grandfather will ever finish an unfinished past locked in his song through dreams?
It’s unquestionable that the Seto culture is dynamic in nature. Like a river, it might have lost some minerals while swiftly flowing through terrains of history but in its course of journeying through landscapes of time, it has also gained several new minerals. To barricade it would be to transform a free flowing eloquent river into a stagnant puddle. But a river must remember the banks it has flown through and the lives it manifested and nurtured and this is what the characters of this film are doing.
The stories of the three characters, whose diversity offers a rich spectrum to the film, will be interspersed as their journeys unfold with a common ambition of reconnecting to a past. The narration of dreams by the characters with the dynamic, fluid and mysterious components of those dreams will knit the stories of the three characters into the film’s narrative arc with intricacy and intimacy. The narrative will have a multi-layered visual language which, in powerful aesthetic ways, will express the multiple realities which the three characters inhabit.