When Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, his reform policy sparked an independence movement in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. But as cries for help from these Baltic states were met with silence from the international community at large, two small nations answered the call – Iceland and Denmark – motivated by the personal connections of their respective foreign ministers, Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson and Uffe Elleman Jensen.
Ultimately, it was up to Iceland and its intrepid foreign minister, Hannibalsson, to advocate a “new security order” and to first recognise these countries’ declarations of independence in 1991. “Those Who Dare”, a 2015 joint production by Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, recounts this dramatic tale, using real footage of events as they unfolded over the two years leading to independence, as well as interviews with the major political figures of the time.
The film’s London premiere took place on Tuesday at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The screening was followed by a conversation with the screenwriter, Kolfinna Baldvinsdóttir, as well as with a special guest, Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, whose involvement in challenging the legacy of the Second World War helped make Baltic independence a reality. They were joined by Tunne Kelam, a member of the European Parliament and one of the leading figures in Estonia’s quest to restore independence. The discussion was chaired by Kristina Spohr, an associate professor in international history at the London School of Economics.
There was also a photo exhibition entitled “Timeless Tallinn” by Estonian photographer Arne Maasik that will stay at the EBRD until 26 October.
Apart from London, “Those Who Dare” will also screen in Cambridge on 19 October.