The film exposes closing hours and night time heartbeat of Tallinn shopping mall – a place built to entertain and mirror the world. The ambiguity of camera gaze and the immersive soundscape will confront viewer with a raw materiality of fleeting encounters, circulatory systems and gradually transforming atmosphere.

The dialogue-free sensory ethnography will invite you to question limit between the body and the world in one of the most vibrant urban ecosystems.

  • Pavel Borecký
  • Kevin Molloy
    Sound design
  • Pavel Borecký, Martin Männik
  • Carlo Cubero, Kersti Uibo, Riho Västrik
    Academic supervisors
  • Baltic Film and Media School
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Student
  • Runtime:
    25 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 10, 2015
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    HD video
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Freiburg Student Film Forum
    May 12, 2015
    German premiere
  • Apricot Tree International Ethnographic Film Festival
    October 3, 2015
    Asian premiere
  • Athens Ethnographic Film Festival
    November 27, 2015
    Greek premiere
  • Festival do Filme Etnográfico do Recife
    November 17, 2015
    South American premiere
  • World Film Festival
    March 28, 2016
  • Etnofilm
    Rovinj, Croatia
    April 28, 2016
    Croatian premiere
  • Ethnocineca
    Vienna, Austria
    April 17, 2016
    Austrian premiere
  • Futuros Disputados
    June 3, 2016
  • Days of Ethnographic Cinema
    Russian Federation
    September 27, 2016
  • Etnoff
    Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
    November 12, 2016
  • Days of Ethnographic Film
    March 3, 2017
Director Biography - Pavel Borecký

Pavel Borecký is a visual anthropologist and a co-founder of an award-winning anthropological research organization Anthropictures, holder of MSc in Sustainable Development and MA in Social Anthropology (Audiovisual Ethnography). He carried out fieldworks in Serbia, Peru, Czech Republic and Estonia focusing on visual ethnobotany, community building and urban placemaking in post-socialist context.

Currently, he has completed MA studies at School of Humanities + Baltic Film and Media School in Tallinn and has been granted a PhD position at Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, as an awardee of Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship. Among others, he continues to collaborate with Estonian Urban Laboratory and Vita Pictura Productions.

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Director Statement

Its light burn right through my eyes. Apparently, my chances of becoming a big fan of shopping malls have never been high. However, getting older, I have realized it is not about the architecture or the perfection of daily shoppers, but rather my concern shifted towards what it represents to me. A world of blissful ignorance, delivering packed and perfumed comfort from all around the world in an instant? A place where take-away happiness can be bought? I decided to confront that...
„What is the night time like in a shopping mall once everyone leaves?" Addressing six shopping centers in Tallinn, the leading city among European capitals in a ratio of commercial floor space to number of inhabitants, I was offered creative freedom and immediate access to one of them.

Solaris. Who would name a mall after the famous sci-fi movie? Maybe someone who wants to render ordinary mall as special, somehow interstellar, somehow materializing one's wishes. A marketing inside joke? Imagine what you wish for and it will be given to you. Tarkovsky and Lem did materialize the dead wife of the orbital station’s inspector, did they not?

Initially, I started with a simple task - visiting the place in order to get acquainted with its staff and everyday routines. The more time I was spending there alone with my camera, the more I was apprehending the ideas of Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour, Tim Ingold and Nigel Thrift. It is the scholarship that, in my opinion, frames current anthropological horizons I am humbled by, yet, despite initial disorientation, I have realized that the film has been opening new paths for investigation of how "more-than-human theory" could influence the future of ethnographic cinema.

"Solaris" is not a film solely for academics and PhD holders. I did not want to create a film-statement, but a sensually intensive and contextually open space for the reflection upon modes of consumption. Having no dialogue, the film is experimenting with evocation of other-than-human ontologies. We can infer this approach to Maurice Merleau-Ponty and radically exclaim: "A movie is not thought, it is perceived. Ultimately, it does not mean anything but itself“.

During the final evaluation at the Baltic Film and Media school, my documentary supervisors urged me to simplify the narrative and blend disjointed sequences of everydayness, transformation and darkness together. Such response has prompted me to realized my bonding with the mall - I had started treating it as if it were "a person." A person whose testimony - the spatial relationships and night time processes - cannot be misappropriated. I have thus refused to follow the suggestions of my advisors who did not have the same experience as myself. Was it excess of ethical principles in anthropological research or post-human ethics expanding its reach? Was it misunderstanding of the film medium or viable experimentation?

"Solaris" is a cinematic vessel that takes those who dare to enter and projects their dreams back to them. Watching the film might be just a short sensory experience. Nevertheless, there are voices echoing as you walk through the corridors. The confrontation creates relationships and associations. What kind of a conversation would you develop with a vibrating building, its servants and the man with a movie camera?