In the Crosswind

June 14, 1941, 3 a.m. Over 40000 people from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are deported by Soviets to Siberia. Among them is a philosophy student Erna, a happily married mother of a little girl. Separated from her husband Erna and her daughter are dispatched together with other women and children to remote Siberian territories. Despite hunger, fear and brutal humiliation Erna never in next fifteen years loses her sense of freedom and hope of returning to homeland. The story is inspired by real events.


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  • ★★★★ review by Still Here🏳️‍🌈 on Letterboxd

    "In Siberia, time doesn't move."

    Estonia fires! Film on Stalin's Soviet holocaust where thousands of Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians were taken away from their homes and only rare returned. It's easy to put it among the other great films from young and innovative directors, Miguel Gomes' Tabu and Raya Martin's Autohystoria or Independencia. I don't want to seriously spoil anything but it will surprise most of its viewers not only because of its cinematic methods but because of its heart. Director has truly wanted to understand and open about one of the biggest traumas of his people.

    The subject is dark, considering Helde's young age and despite not being able to really tell because he hasn't personally been through that, the effort and passion to find answers or rather passion to simply just tell goes beyond that "problem". In Estonia it has gained lots of praise also from older people for taking such a subject under his eyes. And the passion can also be seen in the fact that for the film 3 and half years was used and considering its low budget, the result is vertiginous and beautiful in its simpleness.

    Need to understand and not to forget in order to forget (and move on) has always been driving force in cinema and here it gets another form.

  • ★★★½ review by Michael Scott on Letterboxd

    I walked out of Martti Helde's beautifully conceived epistolary review of Stalin's ethnic cleansing of the Baltics feeling as if I should have been walking out of a video installation at a war memorial.

    In the Crosswind (Risttuules) enforces a dignified distance from its subject that hampers emotional connection and holds horror at bay. In this, Helde's approach mirrors Spielberg's similarly distancing Holocaust film; this is not an entertainment or emotional catharsis - this is an historical document.

    Only here it is actually an historical document in that its events are drawn from first hand letters. The writer, a young mother named Erna (played here with enormous backbone by Laura Peterson), was separated from her husband in 1941 and forced to begin a new life in a Siberian labour camp.

    Helde accompanies Erna's heart-wrenching letters home with elaborate tableaux, each moment frozen on the screen as it is codified on paper and added to the annals of history. These grand physical arrangements of bodies, posed with a photographer's precision, become a living canvas and Helde and her director of photography, Erik Pollumaa, survey and rearrange the human landscape, weaving in and around the still blinking, still-heaving figures, leaving us to ponder the lives that once were. These living photographs reanimate our vision of history and reaffirm that deeds were done and done to living breathing human beings.

    It is a startling approach, though possibly overused across the the film's 90 minute run time. The emotional distance and the restrained pace reinforce the necessity to read this film in context. And while In the Crosswind would no doubt the suited to a looped installation in a museum in Tallin, the cinema forces you to patiently take it all in. I just would have liked it to get further under my skin.

  • ★★★★½ review by antoniobret on Letterboxd

    Si alguien os dice que en el cine está todo inventado, haced que vea esta auténtica joya del cine contemporaneo, una exhibición de talento a todos los niveles, exhausta, conmovedora, que si bien pierde un poco su potencial en un segundo y tercer visionado, el terremoto emocional que produce en el espectador es único y muy raro de ver en cualquier película hoy día. La deportación de estonios hacia Siberia por parte del régimen comunista sirve a su jovencísimo realizador a realizar una película que es, a la vez, una pieza de arte destinada a ser proyectada en sesión non-stop en cualquier museo contemporáneo. Diferente, radical y única. Oro puro.

  • ★★★★ review by Adrian Edwards on Letterboxd

    #MIFF2015 Painstaking tableaux give life to heartstopping gulag love letters.

  • ★★★★½ review by Raivis Šveicars on Letterboxd

    Arvien biežāk parādās iemesli, kāpēc neskatīties latviešu kino.

    Jo kaut ko šādu diemžēl mūsējie uzņemt nevar.

    Traģisks, skumjšs un emocionāls stāsts pastāstīts ārkārtīgi eksperimentālā, nekad neredzētā veidā. Tumši, drūmi, ne uz mirkli garlaicīgi.

    Kā pēc filmas atzina pats režisors Marti Helde, tad filma tapusi 4 gadus, lielākoties tāpēc, ka viss ir veidots no nulles - nav piemēru, no kuriem pasmelties iedvesmu vai mācību.

    Režisors jāapsveic ar tiešām baudāmu karjeras pirmo(!) filmu.

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