Windward Land

Windward Land / Tuulepealne maa

Published: April 11, 2017

Windward Land (Tuulepealne maa) is an Estonian television miniseries that tells the story of some of the most dramatic years in Estonia’s history. Its 12 episodes, each about an hour long, aired in 2008. A 13th episode aired in 2013.

The series takes place from World War One through World War Two, encompassing Estonia’s war of independence and emergence as an independent nation; its postwar democratic struggles; and finally its occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union. (Estonia considers its 50 years in the Soviet Union as an illegal occupation.) The story follows two men, Toomas Roo and Indrek Kallaste, and how their fates diverge as Estonia’s political situation changes. It shows Estonia’s Declaration of Independence in 1918, then Roo joining the nationalist (and arguably fascist) Vaps Movement in 1933. At the beginning of World War Two, both Roo and Kallaste join the Forest Brothers, a Baltic partisan army that fought the invading Soviets.

The film drew some criticism for its apparently propagandistic nature—it was compared to Soviet propaganda films, which, considering Estonia’s extremely negative relationship to the Soviet Union, is a harsh criticism. Mikhel Ulman’s script drew particular rancor. The script was supplemented and contributed to by Estonian politician, activist, and established historian Lauri Vahtre, but this did not prevent the film’s taking some historical liberties. The film was financed chiefly by an Estonian government project, EV-90.

The series was directed by Ain Prosa and starred Rasmus Kaljujärv. Both work primarily in the theater in Estonia, though they’ve each participated in a smattering of films and TV projects.


Director: Ain Prosa
Stars: Rasmus Kaljujärv, Märt Avandi, Evelin Pang, Mirtel Pohla, Üllar Saaremäe, Marko Matvere
TV channel: ETV


The first episode:

About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

View all posts by: Julie Hersh