Arvo Kruusement Selected to Receive 2012 UT Award for Significant Contribution to Estonian National Identity
On 1 December, at the traditional ceremonial meeting dedicated to the 93rd anniversary of Estonia’s national university and held in the university’s assembly hall, the actor, screenwriter and film director Arvo Kruusement, the grand old man of Estonian cinema, was announced as recipient of the 2012 UT award for significant contribution to Estonian national identity.
Professor Volli Kalm, Rector of the University of Tartu and chairman of the award committee, expressed his delight and respect for the eminent filmmaker’s contribution in the arts. ‘Arvo Kruusement is a towering figure for the Estonian people and Estonian film, a sincere and authentic visualiser of personalities, values and landscapes of cultural significance for Estonians in film language,’ emphasised Kalm. ‘The dignified ranks of recipients of the award for significant contribution to Estonian national identity have received a worthy addition, for the first time in the person of an Estonian filmmaker,’ the Rector added with enthusiasm.
Toomas Kiho, member of the Council of the University of Tartu and Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal Akadeemia, introduced the recipient: ‘There is probably no doubt that Arvo Kruusement and his works are thoroughly known for all people familiar with the Estonian culture. The self-image of Estonians – we can say without exaggeration – would definitely be different without Arvo Kruusement. But for him, we would not know nearly as well who we are.’
Arvo Kruusement (b. 1928) is a distinguished Estonian cultural figure, theatre and film director and actor. He has adapted for the screen the classics of Estonian literature [Karge meri (Smacking Sea) by August Gailit (director and writer), Indrek by Anton Hansen Tammsaare (writer)], seven feature films in total. Kruusement’s magnum opus is the trilogy Kevade (Spring, 1969), Suvi (Summer, 1976) and Sügise (Autumn, 1990), based on eponymous novels by Oskar Luts. These films, as a shared national treasure, have been shaping the cultural memory of Estonians for more than four decades by now. The trilogy is unique in the history of world cinema in that the same actors play the same roles after decades have passed – children become adolescents and adolescents become adults. As the characters age in the book, so do the actors on screen. ‘This is the most authentically Estonian story shown on the big screen, an exemplary contribution to Estonian national identity,’ spoke Toomas Kiho.
The University of Tartu presents the award for significant contribution to Estonian national identity for the ninth time. The award is granted to individuals who in their creative pursuits have shown outstanding achievements in promoting the national cultural identity of Estonia. The recipient of the award is presented with a glass sculpture by the glass artist Toomas Riisalu and with 50 volumes of the series Eesti Mõttelugu (History of Estonian Thought) published by the Ilmamaa publishing company. In the eight preceding years, the award has been granted, respectively, to the writer and ethnologist Ilmar Talve, to the composer Veljo Tormis, to the academician Endel Lippmaa, to the artist Kaljo Põllu, to the writer Ain Kaalep, to the ethnologist and cultural historian Ants Viires, to the writer Mats Traat and to the cleric and scholar Vello Salo.
Additional information: Saima Tiirmaa-Oras, Assistant to Rector of the University of, telephone: (+372) 737 5602, e-mail: saima.tiirmaa-oras [ät] ut.ee.