In the community of Kohtla-Järve, there are a few problems.
Unemployment, substance use and a general feeling of living a futureless life are issues familiar to the people of this small, off-the-map city.
Nothing much happens day-to-day.
One day though, at least in Dirk Hoyer’s film “Detour”, a pop star arrives. On his way to his mother’s funeral, the pop stars vehicle breaks down and he gets stranded, much like the city where it happens.
Through the eyes of the glamorous stranger the non-fiction grit and horror of the city become clearly seen. Unemployment in Kohtla-Järve has been on the increase since Estonia became independent (Kohtla-Järve Development Plan 2007 - 2016). For an aging and generally unskilled, it’s difficult to find jobs in a place, where the only business to date has been coal mining. Restructuring and automation of functions in the competitive market economy has meant that jobs that were needed in a Soviet system, are no longer there. Add to that increasing substance use and/or the migration among the young, to bigger cities, and you have city without a future. The solution for Kohtla-Järve lies in the problem itself. The migration of the current population to bigger cities, and ultimately, the death of that community, will be the solution. The futureless city will have a future nonetheless trough tourism. As a tourist destination Kohtla-Järve has much to offer. Beginning with the splendid location near the shore, the beaches, and the limestone bluff in Saka and Toila, the new community could be known as the Pärnu of Eastern Estonia – once it can clean up its name and gain recognition. All the possibilities are there for Kohtla-Järve. What is needed is a new generation with a fresh view.
Kohtla-Järve does not have a future in this generation. Problems of unemployment, substance use, and a general feeling of living a futureless life, have led to degradation of the local community and will ultimately lead to the relocation of the whole population. These problems are excessive for any city to handle, and they will only be remedied by the death of the community. The solution in this grave statement is this – Kohtla-Järve will be rebuilt by a new community. The rich natural landscapes of Kohtla-Järve will make a tourist destination. The city and the community will be rejuvenated once the current generations have left.
Kohtla-Järve Development Plan 2007 - 2016. Development Plan. Kohtla Järve: Kohtla-Järve City Government, 2006.
Written in 2007 at Baltic Film & Media School class with James Thurlow.∎ Back to Index