Estonian Film 2020 / 1

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Evelin Penttilä Successful at Home and Abroad

Margit Lillak Found the Heroes of Our Time

Pääru Oja A Shooting Star from Estonia

Truth and Justice Collects Awards

FEATURED FILMS: Truth and Justice I Chasing Unicorns I Your Honor The Last Ones I Old Man Cartoon Movie I The Circle I Immortal

Tartu Film Fund supports the shooting and post-production of • international full length feature films • documentaries • short films • animated films • TV series

Photos by Karl Anders Vaikla

Cash rebate for a single project is up to 20% of eligible expenditure incurred in Tartu or Tartu County.

Tartu Film Fund is managed by the Tartu Centre for Creative Industries Submit your application here



total of 848,266 people watched Estonian films in 2019, accounting for 23% of all films screened. It is clear proof that Estonian films are becoming increasingly popular. Of all the new Estonian films, Tanel Toom’s Truth and Justice had the highest number of viewers ever in our history attracting 267,588 cinemagoers. The selection of Truth and Justice into the ten film shortlist for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film added more assurance that the films we shoot in Estonia are of excellent quality. The documentary Ott Tänak - The Movie received 96,232 admissions, the animation film for grown-ups Old Man Cartoon Movie got 86 649 viewers in cinemas, followed by the children’s animation Lotte and the Lost Dragons with 76,745 admissions. It is extraordinary that the top five Estonian films in 2019 included a historical drama, a documentary and two animated films. This is an extremely diverse choice. Estonian documentary films did very well in 2019 - in addition to the incredible admission numbers in local cinemas, they were well-received at major film festivals around the world. In Karlovy Vary, Estonian-Latvian co-production Immortal (directed by Ksenia Okhapkina) won the main documentary prize, To Share or not to Share (directed by Minna Hint and Meelis Muhu) had its international premiere at HotDocs in Canada, the Baltic co-production Bridges of Time (directed by Audrius Stonys) won the Golden Goblet at the Shanghai International Film festival, In Bed with a Writer (directed by Manfred Vainokivi premiered) at Dok Leipzig, The Circle (directed by Margit Lillak) premiered in Ji.hlava. Also animations did well internationally – the short animation Teofrastus (by Sergei Kibus) won 13 prizes from different festivals, Annecy and Ottawa International Animation Festivals saw a remarkable amount of Estonian animated shorts. And last but not least - we are very proud that for the second year running Estonia is presenting a Shooting Star in Berlinale. Cover star of the current issue of Estonian Film - Pääru Oja - is one of the most promising young Estonian actors. In 2019, Oja was nominated for Best Male Actor in Iceland for the film Mihkel directed by Ari Alexander Magnusson. Pääru plays the lead in The Last Ones (by Veiko Õunpuu) that will premiere in 2020 and you can soon see him in the international TV-series Cold Courage. After such a successful year 2019, we can’t wait to see what 2020 will offer for Estonian film. Stay tuned to Estonian cinema! Edith Sepp, CEO of Estonian Film Institute

Content 4

NEWS O2 in Production


NEWS Cultural Endowment Awards Given I Critics’ Favourites




NEWS Success Story of An Estonian Epic COVER STORY Pääru Oja Lust for Life

14 FUNDS How to Find Money in Estonia 16 PRODUCER Evelin Penttilä


Woman Power

21 NEWS Kratt It’s Alive! 22 EVENT Black Nights Shining

Brighter Than Ever

24 DOCS Estonian Docs Are Flying High 26 DIRECTOR Margit Lillak

Heroes of Our Time

30 REVIEW Old Man Cartoon Movie


33 REVIEW Immortal 34 REVIEW Chasing Unicorns 36 REVIEW Your Honor 38 NEWS Festival Highlights 40 NEWS Statistics 2019 41 NEW FILMS The Overview

of the Latest Estonian Films

Estonian Film is published three times per year by Estonian Film Institute Estonian Film Institute Uus 3, 10111, Tallinn, Estonia Phone: +372 627 6060 I E-mail: I Editor in Chief: Eda Koppel Contributing Editor: Maria Ulfsak (Eesti Ekspress) Contributors: Johannes Lõhmus, Aurelia Aasa, Filipp Kruusvall, Hannes Aava Translation: Lili Pilt Linguistic Editing: Paul Emmet Design & Layout: Profimeedia Printed by Reflekt Cover: Pääru Oja, photo by Riina Varol ESTONIAN FILM


Success at Home and Abroad


Photos by Karl Anders Vaikla





In August 2019, production started on Margus Paju’s full-length feature film O2. The historical spy thriller has a budget of 2.2 million euros and is a coproduction between Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. By Maria Ulfsak



Photo Virge Viertek


he film crew comprises filmmakers and actors from all four countries. The shooting took 41 days, and, in addition to Tallinn, Narva and Tartu, also took place place in Helsinki and a number of other locations. The Estonian producers of O2 are Esko Rips (Nafta Films) and Kristian Taska (Taska Film). The co-producers are Jukka Helle from Finland (Solar Films), Janis Kalejs from Latvia (Film Angels) and Lukas Trimonis from Lithuania (InScript). O2 is set in 1939, when Estonia was about to lose its independence. At the heart of the film are the tense events surrounding the beginning of World War II. When an Estonian military intelligence agent is tasked with finding a Soviet double agent in his ranks, it

triggers a deadly game that leads to the Republic of Estonia disappearing from the world map for the next half-century. The agent decides to strike back one last time. The plot of the film unfolds against the backdrop of real-life events. O2 was written by screenwriters Tiit Aleksejev, Eriikka Etholén-Paju and Tom Abrams, but also historians Tiit Aleksejev,

According to producer Esko Rips, O2 looks at well-known historical events from a new intriguing angle.

Mart Laar and Ivo Juurvee, the latter primarily specialising in the history of intelligence services, have greatly contributed to the fictional screenplay, supplementing it with their knowledge. The representation of the work of the Estonian military intelligence during the period in question is true to life, but the characters and events are largely fictional. According to producer Esko Rips, O2 looks at well-known historical events from a completely new angle, taking the viewer into the mysterious and dangerous world of the secret service. “A few, dramatic weeks in the August and September of 1939 changed the

O2 is the second feature for the director Margus Paju.

DIRECTOR’S NOTE O2 is inspired by events that took place in Estonia in the autumn of 1939. Once the “base agreement” with the Soviet Union was signed and the Red Army entered Estonia, the work of the Estonian military intelligence was over. The enemy they had been fighting since the War of Independence had entered the country and enemy soldiers had suddenly become “allies”. And yet, the Estonian military spies found a way to wage a last, decisive battle against their age-old foe. When the Soviet Union attacked

whole world. The cozy feeling of security in Estonia turned out to be a deadly mirage and our hardfought independence was shaken by a mere snap of the fingers. At the same time, the outbreak of World War II destroyed any remaining illusions and Estonia – like its neighbouring countries – found itself a “bargaining chip” between the great powers with no hope in sight. What really happened to us, and why, are topics of heated discussion to this day,” Rips said. He added that the biggest challenge of the shooting period was recreating the historical era, from the costumes to the city

views. “The events in O2 are also very international: there are five languages spoken and the locations range from Tallinn to Helsinki. Such a large-scale, international project is a challenge for any producer.” The leading roles are played by Priit Võigemast, Elmo Nüganen and Tambet Tuisk from Estonia,

The events of O2 take place in 1939.

“Such a large-scale, international project is a challenge for any producer.”

Estonia’s neighbour, Finland, the Red Army “allies” in the Estonian military intelligence force managed to break the Red Army’s secret code. They passed the decoded messages on to their neighbours fighting the Red Army. It allowed the Finns to listen in on the Red Army throughout the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union and gave them intelligence on all of their movements and strategic steps. This secret weapon played an important role in Finnish history. Little Finland was able to withstand attacks from the Soviet Union. David resisted Goliath. The preservation of Finnish independence also became integral to the re-independence of Estonia fifty years later when the Republic of Estonia was restored and the Soviet Union wiped from the world map.

Kaspars Znotiņš and Agnese Cīrule from Latvia and Sampo Sarkola from Finland. The cinematographer of the film is Meelis Veeremets and the production designer Jaagup Roomet. In addition to Estonia, Rips sees target markets for the film in Finland, Latvia and Lithuania – the co-production countries and locations for the activity in O2. “On a wider scale, the film has market potential in Europe at large – and why not North America, some Asian territories, etc. – as we have a historical and universally engaging story to tell.” O2 is set for release in the Autumn of 2020. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Photos by Egert Kamenik

THE WINNERS: producer Ivo Felt, director Tanel Toom (on the left) and actress Ester Kuntu (below) received awards for Truth and Justice. Director Vallo Toomla and producer Kaie-Ene Rääk got the award for the Best Documentary.



he Estonian Cultural Endowment gave out awards at the beginning of 2020. This time, the experts of the audiovisual endowment decided to give their main award to director Tanel Toom and producer Ivo Felt for their feature film Truth and Justice, which had a record-breaking 260,000 domestic admissions. The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to long-serving, beloved veteran actor Tõnu Kark who recently celebrated his 70th birthday. The award for Best Cinematographer went to Erik Põllumaa for his work on the films Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, Scandinavian Silence and Verba Dierum. A Year with Marju Lepajõe. The acting awards also went to Truth

and Justice with Ester Kuntu as Best Actress (also starring in the film Self Made Cameraman) and Priit Võigemast as Best Actor for his role in Tanel Toom’s debut. Miguel Llanso received a Special Mention for his brave experiment Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway and the Best Documentary awards went to Vallo Toomla for Verba Dierum and A Year with Marju Lepajõe and Vladimir Loginov for Prazdnik. The Best Animation Film award went to Priit Tender for his surreal film Orpheus and the award for Best Production Design went to Anu-Laura Tuttelberg for her animated film Winter in the Rainforest. A Special Mention was also given to Oskar Lehemaa for his short horror film Bad Hair. EF

Photo by Priit Mürk (ERR)

T Aurelia Aasa



he Estonian Association of Film Journalists gave out their annual awards for the Best Film, Best Foreign Film and Best Film Critic of 2019. Estonia’s oldest film award, the Neitsi Maali (Virgin Maali), went to Tanel Toom’s full-length feature debut Truth and Justice. “Last year, the award went to the opening film of the Estonia 100 program, The Little Comrade. So it’s fitting that the award go to the powerful ending to that

same program, Truth and Justice. Even though the competition was fierce, Tanel Toom’s work shows that our films have truly become world-class,” said the Chairman of the Estonian Association of Film Journalists, Andrei Liimets. Other nominees for the award included the documentaries A Year Full of Drama (dir. Marta Pulk), Verba Dierum. A Year with Marju Lepajõe (dir. Vallo Toomla) and Immortal (dir. Ksenia Okhapkina) and the

Photos by Scanpix

Critics’ Favourites


ruth and Justice had its domestic premiere in February 2019. Since then the film has gained more than 267,000 admissions, making it the most-watched film throughout the period of Estonian re-independence. The historical epic toppled the previous record-holder Avatar (2009). Following its tremendous domestic success, Truth and Justice made the shortlist for International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. Truth and Justice is the first feature of writer-director Tanel Toom, who previously earned an Oscar nomination with his 2011 short The Confession. Truth and Justice is based on the literary classic by A. H. Tammsaare. The story takes place in 19th century rural Estonia, which was not a time and place for games. Life was ruthless and hard work seemed to be the only salvation; at least for the film’s protagonist Andres (Priit Loog), whose dream of an honest life in the countryside is made impossible by his own stubbornness and escalating quarrels with his neighbour Pearu (Priit Võigemast), which silently starts to destroy him and his family. In the Oscar race, this historical drama stood next to titles such as Bong JoonHo’s Parasite, Almodovar’s Pain and Glory and Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables. Truth and Justice didn’t make it to the final five, but with its nomination received international attention and critical acclaim. Variety called it a “respectful, well-made literary

Priit Võigemast, Madis Tüür and Rein Kotov from Truth and Justice’s team

Photo by Ivo Felt


Tanel Toom at Palm Springs, at Best International Feature Film Panel for Academy Award Shortlisted directors.

adaptation” and Hollywood Reporter noted that Truth and Justice “is a handsome family saga painted on a grand historical canvas”. Screen International said, “The contrast between a highly traditional plot and visual approach with a more modern, throbbing score from Mihkel Zilmer is notably effective.” Although the film speaks strongly to an Estonian audience and was the last film of the Estonian 100 film program dedicated to Estonia’s centenary celebrations, the international reception has proven the universality of the story. In addition to the success at the Oscars, Truth and Justice was the winner of the Best International Motion Picture Award at the Satellite Awards. In 2014, the Satellite Award went to the Estonian-Georgian co-production Tangerines, which was then the Academy Award nominee for a Foreign Language Film. Tangerines and Truth and Justice are

Manfred Vainokivi

the only two Estonian titles which have made it to the shortlist at the Academy Awards. Both have been produced by Ivo Felt from Allfilm. Commenting on Truth and Justice’s success Felt himself has brought out the broadness of the story – although set in historical Estonia, the portrayal of human inflexibility and self-indulgence are themes which can move people in any time and from any place. Truth and Justice had its international premiere at the Busan International Film Festival where it was selected to the World Cinema section. The film’s U.S. festival debut was at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, where it premiered in the Awards Buzz section. It was also in the Baltic Competition at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. During the Oscar campaign, Truth and Justice was picked up by the Berlin-based Films Boutique, which from now on will handle the film’s sales. EF

animated comedy The Old Man Cartoon Movie (dir. Oskar Lehemaa, Mikk Mägi). The Best Film Critic accolade went to Aurelia Aasa. And the distributor’s award for the Best Foreign Film went to Must Käsi for Bong Joon-ho’s film Parasite, a suspenseful drama that combines art with entertainment in its treatment of generic, human, everyday questions through impressive form and substance. The second place went to Forum Cinemas for distribution of the thriller Lighthouse and third place went to Estonian Theatrical Distribution who distributed the historical comedy The Favourite. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Lust for Life Pääru Oja (30) was selected as an EFP Berlinale Shooting Star. He is one of 10 promising young actors from Europe whose work will be showcased at the 70th anniversary of the Berlinale Film Festival. Pääru has been in over 20 theatre plays in Estonia, held leading roles in the films Mihkel and The Last Ones and you can soon see him in the international TV-series Cold Courage. By Johannes Lõhmus Photos by Riina Varol


ääru, April will see the Estonian premiere of Veiko Õunpuu’s new film The Last Ones where you play the lead character Rupi and which takes places in Lapland. Tell us about the film.

The theme of the film can be summed up pretty well by a moment that I remember clearly from the shooting period. I had a free day and was sitting on a mountainside when I saw some kind of Lapland beetle trying to climb up a gravel hill. Despite its best efforts, it kept sliding back down. It kept trying and trying but still sliding down, over and over again. The characters in The Last Ones are also striving for who knows what without really knowing why. This floundering is con-



veyed very well by the great dialogues and characters, who share moments of tenderness where they confess their dreams like finally going on holiday and see the “real” Lapland or they are like Tommi Korpela’s Fisherman character who maniacally strives to show himself as something more than he really is. We see the horrible consequences of indiscriminate scrambling like that. Who is Rupi?

In Finnish, Rupi means ‘scab’… But as a character, Rupi’s striving is accompanied by a romantic pursuit, which is the only thing that he knows how to hold on to in life. His dream is of a girl, which is a beautiful thing. He’s a bright soul and playing him was a real challenge for me be-

cause the film takes place in Lapland and in Finnish. Veiko Õunpuu is a director who expects the actors to improvise and Finnish is a foreign language to me. But it’s a very beautiful and poetic foreign language. How did you prepare for the role?

I had intensive language training for three months and fanatically lost weight. When Veiko and I were talking about the role, he said that Rupi should be a tense guy so my interpretation was to work out and eat moderately to add the tension to my body that way. Please describe how it was to work with Veiko Õunpuu.

It was good but also hard. He’s definitely one of those, you now,



COVER STORY go, the lower to the ground they get. The population density is very sparse. I had an accident while there and needed the hospital so we had to drive for one hour to meet the ambulance, which meant the ER was about two hours away. And that means there are very large expanses full of reindeer and tundra up there. There is a mountain hut in the film, which is actually in Norway and was built in the 1940s. We filmed there for about a week, and every night when the others went down the mountain, I stayed in the hut to sleep under the reindeer skins. And when I built a fire and pushed open the door, the endless mountains and vastness really threw me for a loop. Being alone in the middle of it all. Without your phone or internet, just your thoughts. That was an awesome week. On my last night there, the owner came to the hut and we spoke – he in the Sami language and me in a mixture of Estonian-Finnish-English. We drank some kind of local moonshine and felt fraternal as we looked for the words in our languages that might mean the same thing or something close. In addition to the Lapland environment, there are some local people in the film. Like Nitti, who is in the bonfire scene and who was the biggest reindeer owner in Finland at the time. But he was just about to sell his reindeer and get into the real estate business. Maybe these are the stories or people who can help describe the time we spent up North. people with a spark. He has really cool ideas and gives the actors a lot of freedom in a certain sense but he’s also extremely demanding. Veiko has a great sense of humour and laughs a lot. Before I got to know him, I used to watch his films very differently than I do now. I think they’re all very witty films. What was life in Lapland like?

There is an endless amount of air and space because the forests are shrubby and the more North you



You have to play to the whole and your acting has to be as believable as the director wants in the context of the world that you are creating.

You were selected as one of this year’s Shooting Stars based on three roles. Rupi in The Last Ones, David in the new crime series Cold Courage and the titular character Mihkel in the Icelandic-Estonian co-production Mihkel from 2018. Tell us a little about the series. Is it a classical, international thriller?

The story is about the extreme right wing party gaining popularity in Great Britain before the elections and a spontaneous band of

Pääru Oja as the lead character in The Last Ones (directed by Veiko Õunpuu, on the below) and Mihkel (directed by Ari Alexander Magnússon, on the left).

rebels cropping up to fight against them by revealing their darkest deeds. I play the right hand man to the party boss – the political observer David from Estonia who moved to England to start his political career. I really hope that the thriller will engage audiences. It’s classically international in that it takes place in Great Britain, is based on a Finnish book, the two main characters are Finnish actresses, it was funded by Finland, Ireland, Belgium and Iceland and the international distribution is handled by Lionsgate from the U.S. Your most important film roles have made you into a fraught Nordic miner, an EastEuropean drug mule and an extreme-right politician. How do you research people or learn about them for the roles?

It’s something like professional cretinism, I think. Subconsciously you’re constantly trying to hit on certain motifs or tell stories about people in your head. Basically, you’re trying to find things in real life to steal and use somewhere. In some ways it’s true that art copies art and those of us who are not God’s own children and not as talented as He is inevitably have to steal from those who have done something similar before. I don’t have any specific method for it but I really like sitting in cafes or on park benches in the sun. I like to take walks and just watch people. A big part of it is staying honest to

yourself because if you can analyse your own thoughts and feelings honestly, you can evoke that and use it when you are getting into a character. Especially when it comes to the dark and bad parts. You are a graduate of theatre school and a professional actor who works full time in a theatre. Your more important professional awards have also been won for stage roles. Do you need to tune yourself differently for theatre and film roles?

I don’t know if it’s an actual need. Since filmmaking is a longer process, the preparation seems more thorough but often it’s simply that if you have a connection with the crew and the material, then you can usually tell within a week or two if this is going to be something worthwhile or not. But maybe that’s something you can only see in hindsight because the best memories are left by the parts that just come out right. I think the process is a little different between film and theatre but it’s the thing that attracts me and forces me to work in both cases. In theatre, we come together and get to work right away. Films are made more slowly and on your own so there’s more room for different interpretations. I’m talking about the ideal, not about myself, but I think that flexibility should be one of the skills of a film actor. That means that even if you’ve made things completely clear to yourself, on set you still have to un-

Who is Pääru Oja? Favourite activity: Smoking. Favourite journey: Going on a trip and returning from it. Favourite place: The theatre stage. A meaningful event from your life: I suppose those meaningful acquaintances that have led to meeting other people and doing meaningful collaborations, which has created a strong, professional bond. What type of people do you admire: Honest people – those who dare be honest with themselves and especially artists who always remain honest towards themselves and their art. Your biggest achievement so far: I’m not a very musical person so I consider my biggest achievement playing guitar with my friend Indrek Kruusimaa. That is something I never would have believed that I could be capable of doing. Biggest fear: The feeling that you’re going to get caught and all these people will realize that I can’t really do anything and I’ve just been pretending all this time. A quote you use more often than others: Pablo Picasso supposedly said: “Good artist copy, great artists steal.” ESTONIAN FILM



Flamenco is special to me because it comes right from the soul. All of the sounds and harmonies they use are so powerful that they make me defenceless. derstand that someone else has a different understanding and you have to let go of your own thing and try to adopt that other person’s ideas. You have to play to the whole and your acting has to be as believable as the director wants in the context of the world that you are creating. And I guess the same goes for theatre as well. Before you studied acting, you



were into the sciences and wanted to go study physics and become a scientist instead of going to theatre school. Is there anything from your interest in the sciences and the practical world view that has helped or harmed you as an actor?

People are created a certain way and that sticks with them. And I think that, in a certain sense, it may be possible to break things down into algorithms and thus the analysis of a play or a role can be similar to mathematical thinking. And it’s probably a strength and a downfall at once. I don’t know how to think any other way but it does help me work the way that I do. It may be the reason I’ll never be able do anything completely unexpected. Improvisation also has its own rules and things have to unravel according to a logical trajectory. But the most interesting part of art is the part that might not be

logical. The part that is surprising, that you wouldn’t ever think of – that’s the most valuable part. Which actors are your biggest role models?

Philip Seymour Hoffman – all of his roles were thoroughly planned and nuanced but he also always did things that seemed like they shouldn’t fit his roles but they allowed him to reveal even more about his characters. Each and every one of his roles has amazed me. Especially in the film The Master. And, until recently, Joaquin Phoenix was another one but then he was in Joker (he laughs) and now everyone likes him and they talk about his amazing performance even though he’s been doing those same things in his earlier work. That film has a simple, Hollywood scheme that Joaquin Phoenix plays into being something big.

Photo by Sofie Gheysens

In the new crime series Cold Courage Pääru Oja plays the political observer David from Estonia who moved to England to start his political career.

Pääru in his recent films: Goodbye Soviet Union (directed by Lauri Randla, above) and The Riddle of Jaan Niemand (directed by Kaur Kokk, below).

rolls their r’s and lisps their s’s. Or puts on a stupid wig. No way… But the feeling of being on stage and making the audience laugh is a good feeling.

And which directors would you want to work with?

I have liked every one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films without exception. I could watch them endlessly because they show complicated human relationships in very different situations but in such a faithful way that I could watch them forever. There was an interview on TV once where you said that there is nothing scarier and less funny than comedy on the stage – what makes you laugh?

If Ricky Gervais is comedy, then I do enjoy him every time because his humour is a mixture of melancholy and optimistic laughter. I guess that’s the thing I want to hold on to with humour and comedy. I accept comedy if I can laugh about some paradox of life together with the characters. But I can’t even keep my eyes on anyone who

Pääru Oja is one of the ten young most promising young European actors selected for the EFP Shooting Stars programme.

I’ve heard that you are passionate about flamenco music. What makes flamenco special for you and how did it come into your life?

I got interested at a young age when I was in Spain and happened to see someone play flamenco. I loved it. Now, when I’m not acting, I play guitar with my good friend Indrek Kruusimaa. He’s the best guitar player in Estonia and it’s pure joy to play together. Flamenco is special to me because it comes right from the soul. All of the sounds and harmonies they use are so powerful that they make me defenceless. It’s such sentimental music that you have to be a broken human being if it leaves you completely numb. Is the legend true that when you came back from Iceland where you filmed Mihkel, you brought back a sweater that used to belong to Clint Eastwood?

Haha, it’s true. We were filming on

Iceland and our costumes included a sweater that even travelled to Estonia with us. And even though I never wore it in the film, I asked the costumer about it for some reason. And I heard that they filmed the Clint Eastwood film Letters From Iwo Jima in Iceland in 2006 and that same company was working on the film that worked on Mihkel (Truenorth Productions). So when Eastwood got cold, they brought him about a hundred sweaters to choose from and he just took the top one and put it on. At the end of the shoot, he had folded it up nicely and left it in his hotel room so it found its way back to the costume warehouse. I think it was worn in another Icelandic film also. But when I heard that story, I told them that they’re going to lose the sweater and wouldn’t let them take it back to Iceland with them. And when I asked if I could keep it on the last day of the shoot, no one objected. So now it’s true that I own a colourful, yellow-brown, wool sweater that used to belong to Clint Eastwood. What are your next projects?

In addition to The Last Ones and Cold Courage, I’ve had smaller roles in many Estonian films coming out soon: the Ingrian story Goodbye Soviet Union, the WWII film O2 and Jaak Kilmi’s Latvian-Estonian co-production Christmas in the Jungle, which was filmed in Indonesia. And that’s all that I can mention at the moment.. EF ESTONIAN FILM



How to Find Money in Estonia If you want to make your film with Estonian partners, these are the film funds, ready to finance your project. By EFI

ESTONIAN FILM INSTITUTE PROGRAMMES FOR FILM PRODUCTION MAJORITY CO-PRODUCTION • Financing for an Estonian co-producer the maximum subsidy is € 700,000. • Subsidy of up to 70% of the Estonian part of the budget. • 50% of the subsidy must be spent in Estonia. • Two application deadlines: April 30, 2019 and December 3, 2019. MINORITY CO-PRODUCTION Budget 2020: € 500,000 • For producers from all over the world. Participation of an Estonian co-producer is necessary. Bilateral treaty not necessary. • Maximum subsidy for an Estonian co-producer: feature film and feature animation € 200,000; documentary € 60,000. • Subsidy of up to 70% of the Estonian part of the budget. • 100% of the subsidy must be spent in Estonia. • Estonian creative and production related participation in a project should meet the requirements of minority co-production grading table. • Two deadlines per year, decision in 30 days.



FILM ESTONIA CASH REBATE Film Estonia cash rebate is a production incentive supporting the incoming production of feature films, feature documentaries, animation films, animation series, high-end TV-drama and the post-production of all previously mentioned works. An application can be made for international production service or co-production to receive a cash rebate up to 30% on eligible production costs. • • • • • •

Support intensity - 20%-30% of eligible costs Deadlines - open call Applicant - company registered in Estonia Recipient - foreign company Decision – in 30 days Auditing and payment – in 40 days

The scheme is open for: • feature films with a budget of at least € 1 million; minimum local spend € 200,000

• feature documentary with a budget of at least € 200,000; minimum local spend € 70,000 • animation with a budget of at least € 250,000; minimum local spend € 70,000 • animation series with a budget of at least € 500,000; minimum local spend € 70,000 • high-end TV-drama with a budget of at least € 200,000 per single episode; minimum local spend € 70,000 • post-production; minimum local spend € 30,000 Previously supported films include: Checkered Ninja (Denmark), Maria’s Paradise (Finland), Firebird (UK), Helene (Finland), Tenet (USA) CONTACT: Nele Paves, Film Commissioner

Bibi Blocksberg

Shooting of Erna at War

Helene Photo by Andres Teiss

Photo by Karl-Andres Vaikla


TARTU FILM FUND Type of fund: regional, incentive / cash rebate. • • •

• •

Budget 2020: € 150,000 Support intensity: up to 20% Objective: production of an audio visual work in Tartu area (South of Estonia) Support for the production of feature films, animations, tv-series, documentaries, short films. Participation of an Estonian production company is necessary. No deadlines.

Recently supported films: The Secret Society of Souptown (Estonia), When You Least Expect It (Estonia), Erna at War (Denmark) CONTACT: Kristiina Reidolv VIRU FILM FUND Type of fund: regional, incentive / cash rebate • Budget 2020: € 200,000 • Support intensity: up to 40% • Objective: production of an audio visual work in the Eastern region of Estonia. • Support for the production of feature films, documentaries, tv-series, music videos. • No deadlines, applications are accep­ ted from February 10 to October 31. Recently supported films: Eternal Road (Finland), Mihkel (Iceland), Mother (Estonia) CONTACT: Piia Tamm




FILM FUND OF ESTONIAN ISLANDS Type of fund: regional, incentive / cash rebate • Budget 2020: € 15,000 • Support intensity: According to the project • Objective: production of an audio visual work on the island of Saaremaa. • Support for the production of feature films, animations, tv-series, docs, short films and film education. • Participation of an Estonian production company is necessary. • No deadlines. CONTACT: Saaremaa Development Centre +372 452 0570 of-estonian-islands

Travel fast. With an area of just 45,227 km2 all corners of the country are only a couple of hours away There’s space. Estonia is one of Europe’s least crowded countries It’s green. 52 per cent of the country is forest,

THE CULTURAL ENDOWMENT OF ESTONIA Public agency that supports culture, including audiovisual art, and sport. MAJORITY CO-PRODUCTION Financing for an Estonian co-producer the maximum subsidy is € 120,000. MINORITY CO- PRODUCTION • Participation of Estonian co-producer is necessary. • Financing for an Estonian co-producer the maximum subsidy is € 60,000. • There are four application deadlines: February 20, May 20, August 20 and November 20.

making it one of Europe’s greenest countries Endless summer light. Due to its northern location, Estonia experiences the summertime “White Nights” phenomena, when the sun sets late and the night is dusk at most.

Lots of islands. 2,222 islands and islets Period-friendly architecture. Medieval old towns, 1000 castles and manors dating back as far as the 13th century. Architecture from Stalinist Classicism and Soviet Modernism. ESTONIAN FILM



Woman POWER When it comes to international co-productions, Evelin Penttilä is one of the most prolific producers in Estonia at the moment. She is actively cooperating with top production companies from Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. Text by Maria Ulfsak Photos by Virge Viertek


velin, please tell us about your background first of all. How did you become a producer? You first studied something else entirely in university, didn’t you?

I studied political science at the University of Tartu and dreamt of working with third world global issues. During my freshman year, I ended up with a summer job at the Estonian production company Ruut, which was a big studio producing films, TV shows and commercials at the time. Through that job, I met people who instigated my interest in film and who hired me as an assistant on feature films with no background or experience whatsoever. My world was turned upside down by the 2009 half-year MEGA Plus training in Spain, where I first got a taste of what a producer does and how the European market works. Thanks to MEGA, I was able to work under foreign producers – like the team of Mike Downey and Sam Taylor from FAME in London and, later, assisting producer Judy Tossel from Egoli Tossel Films on the feature Hector and the Search for Happiness. In Estonia, I also had the opportunity to work with producers Ivo Felt, Kristian Taska and Riina Sildos. I’ve learned a lot from all of the abovementioned producers while working on their projects. My final sense of assurance came when my first feature film, Zero Point (2014), reached cinemas and I realized that I was able to create something that gave encouragement to so many young people. To me, a good producer should see the creative potential in an author and his/her story, be able to channel the essence of that film in the best way possible and, finally, bring it to the right viewers.



Every job has its positive and negative sides. What do you love the most about your profession and what are the elements that you maybe don’t like at all?

I love the variety that this job affords – every film is unique, just like every set of authors. I like the fact that we build and demolish a lot of different castles in the clouds, which finally settle into the material we shoot for the final film. I’ve always enjoyed reading and I really like watching films and discussing them and all of that is a very important part of my working process. I’m also really into traveling and meeting new people. And, of course, there’s also the job of aligning dreams with reality and the creativity in trying to find a way to make the absolute maximum of every euro in the budget. It’s frustrating when I can see that the author needs help with figuring out how to express an idea but I can’t find the right way to help him/her. But, actually, there are very few things that I don’t like about this work. I’ve learned that, in addition to knowing very good people, (life) experience is also very important for this job. I feel like I’m just starting to understand how a producer’s job should be done and how to be a better ally to my partners. You are one of the most active producers in Estonia, especially in the area of co-production. What projects are you currently working on?

It’s never boring! I’m very happy to have so many films in the works at the same time. We have just released Maria’s Paradise, that premiered at Toronto, here in Estonia. And our short film Bad Hair was part of Sundance Shorts. Jaak Kilmi’s family film Christmas in

SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY: Helene (2020, feature, co-producer) Maria’s Paradise (2019, feature, co-producer), Bad Hair (2019, short, producer), Mihkel (2018, feature, co-producer), Class Reunion 2 (2018, feature, producer), Class Reunion (2016, feature, producer), Zero Point (2014–2015, feature, TV-series, producer) Numerous short films and more than 100 production services for commercial production companies from all over the world.



Photo by Stellar


At the Estonian premiere of Bad Hair with the director Oskar Lehemaa.

Photo by Stellar

Evelin and her colleague Ronet Tänav on the set of Maria’s Paradise.

You are primarily coproducing with Finland and Latvia. Who are your partners there?

Photo by Amrion

the Jungle (Latvian-Estonian-Slovenian co-production) is deep in the editing process and will be in cinemas in December 2020. We are putting together the last pieces of financing for Jaak’s next drama The Sleeping Beast, which will be shot in the coming summer. And thanks to Film Estonia cash rebate my company Stellar is also involved this year with Finnish TV drama Bad Apples (produced by Firemonkey) and in the Omerta films by director Antti Jokinen. And then there are also short films in development. Our hands are full of work at the moment but I’m happily already thinking about up coming projects for 2021.

Short film Bad Hair directed by Oskar Lehemaa has become internationally really successful. It was screened at many genre festivals and also selected to Sundance. Tell us more about that project?

Bad Hair is an underdog that became a success story without anyone really expecting it. I’m the third producer that took the project on and I did it out of curiosity - how to really produce a horror film and get it out to the world? I liked that it was a very compact story, which had a pun and also got instant reactions from everyone we pitched it for. But the challenge was that it was very expensive to make - so after all the unsuccessful attempts to co-produce it with France, Sweden and Finland, we decided to change the strategy. We optimised the budget to the maximum, made an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and got local rental houses on board to invest into the film - and with a lot of sweat and tears and a little bit of luck we were able to get the film out to the festivals. By the autumn, the film had already fulfilled our dreamlist of festivals - awards at HÕFF, Fantasia and Fantastic Fest. Sundance was simply impossible to believe at first. We are also very excited that Canal+ will be showing it to horror fans in France.



Scouting for the sets for Icelandic-Estonia-Norwegian co-production Mihkel with the director Ari Alexander Magnusson and the main producer Kristinn Thorardson.

True, my current projects have tied me quite strongly to our neighbouring countries. The primary producers on Maria’s Paradise were the young, enterprising producers Daniel Kuitunen and Kaisla Viitala whose production company Komeetta made the film as their first full-length feature. But Helene’s producer was the very experienced Finnish producer Mikko Tenhunen, who was one of the producers on Aku Louhimies’s box office hit The Unknown Soldier. Of our Southern neighbours, I’m currently working on Christmas in the Jungle with Roberts Vinovskis, a producer from the well-established company Locomotive Productions, which will actually celebrate 25 years of operation in 2020. I’m also planning to work together with the younger generation producers Aija Berzina from Tasse Film in Latvia and Dagnė Vildžiūnaitė from Just a Moment in Lithuania. Zaida Bergroth is considered to be one of the most talented and interesting directors in Finland. Her Maria’s Paradise just premiered in Toronto and I’ve heard you are co-producing her next project as well. Please tell me more about how you ended up working with her and those two projects in particular.

I met Zaida for the first time six years ago on a commercial shoot – her gentle but powerful and sincere approach fascinated me and we parted ways with very warm feelings at the time. When the development on Maria’s Paradise got more serious, it seemed to make sense to bring the production to Estonia. I got along very well with Daniel and Kaisla so that was the path we ended up taking. Zaida’s next film is the story of Finnish acclaimed

Cash rebate has proven itself by now and it’s important that we continue our work on it by expanding the scheme as well as building a studio complex in Tallinn. author Tove Jansson’s journey of self discovery. The costume designer of the film, Eugen Tamberg and his team, are from Estonia and they already successfully collaborated on Maria’s Paradise. Unfortunately we were unable to raise financing for Tove from Estonia, but I know that there are other films in development, which have a strong potential to bring Zaida back to Estonia. I like the way Zaida portrays women as complex, lively and very sexual personalities and I hope to be part of her films in the future. The Latvian-Estonian children’s film Christmas in the Jungle is a unique project. It went into production this autumn and where else but in Indonesia. Why are you making a Baltic children’s film in Indonesia?

I was immediately interested in the concept of a Christmas film without a white Christmas. When the project became more serious and Roberts Vinovskis informed us that the majority funding was in place in Latvia last autumn, I hesitated for a moment about how good of an idea it is to jump head first into shooting in a completely unknown location on the other side of the world. But from Jaak and Roberts’s first scouting trip there, it was clear that we had found good local producers as partners and a wonderful shooting location in the city of Yogya­karta. Our modern world is a place where the reality for any small child might be that her mother and father decide to accept a job far away from home, which means a change of environment and delving into a whole new culture for the whole family. Christ-


Photo by Stellar


work very well in Estonia! It has proven itself by now and it is important that we continue our work on it by expanding the scheme as well as building a studio complex in Tallinn. The small size of the Estonian market sets boundaries on how many projects are funded for production every year. A good cash rebate with a foreign production company gives us the opportunity to professionalize the industry and rid ourselves of the restrictive yoke of local financing and the seasonality of production here. I’ve worked on films with budgets of 1-2 million euros and I dare say that, considering the budgetary limitations of our own industry, cash rebate projects give us an opportunity to think bigger and get experience working with foreign partners. You’ve produced films from very different genres – the Class Reunion films were successful comedies, Bad Hair is a horror film, and then there are the children’s and historical films – it could be described as a very broad profile. What is the reason behind that?

At the moment, I’m interested in films with female characters and I’m also working on making sure my films find their way to the international market. mas in the Jungle tells the story of such an adventure and the chills that go along with it. As far as distribution in the Baltics, we signed with Acme to bring the film to Estonian and Latvian children in their own languages. Dubbing the film and distributing it like that will be another interesting challenge but, considering the story, it is also the only way to bring it to its intended audiences. You have now produced several projects under the Film Estonia cash rebate support scheme. What is your assessment of this mechanism? How does your work show the effect that it has had on the Estonian film industry?

I think that the cash rebate scheme has started to



Evelin in Indonesia on the set of Christmas in the Jungle with the lead actress Rebeka Šuksta.

The shortest answer to that question is that I’m a very curious person. I’m interested in very different topics and I haven’t ruled out any genre for myself. I even produced a theatre play. The determining factor is whether I’m interested in the story, the artistic concept, an ethical dilemma, the author, or if the project is a challenge for me as a producer. For example, Zero Point was a challenge because we had to make a film without state support but with a high level of audience anticipation. The challenge of the Class Reunion series was having a large variety of private sector funding sources and using a minimal budget to make a maximally popular folk comedy. At the moment, I’m interested in films with female characters and I’m also working on making sure my films find their way to the international market.

I know quite a few producers who actually have no time to watch films. What about you?

I think that I watch an average number of films for a filmmaker – of course I always wish it were more! I prefer watching them in a cinema. My favourite are the ones with a sense of mystery or a little bit of magic in them – like Border by Ali Abbasi or Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul from a few years ago where the characters meet as deer in their dreams. But I also enjoy very linear dramas – like Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida or Moonlight by Barry Jenkins. I can’t wait for the new films from Paolo Sorrentino, Ruben Östlund and Alejandro G. Iñárritu. And I’ve already started to run on – seems I’m just an incorrigible film fan. EF


It’s Alive!

The summer and autumn of 2019 was the shooting period for the Estonian full-length comedic fantasy film Kratt. By Maria Ulfsak


he film’s screenwriter and director is Rasmus Merivoo, whose 2006 student short film Alien – Saving Valdis in 11 Chapters has achieved true cult status in Estonia. The film is produced by the people behind the 2019 film Chasing Unicorns – director Rain Rannu and producer Tõnu Hiielaid. The crew will have a few more shooting days at the beginning of this summer and the film is slated for a domestic premiere in October 2020. The story of Kratt revolves around teenagers who are left at grandma’s house without their smartphones. Real life seems boring and real work feels hard. Luckily, they find the instructions for building a kratt – a magical creature from Estonian mythology who will do whatever its master says. All they have to do now is to buy a soul from the devil. Soon, life stops being boring in a bloody way... According to producer Tõnu Hiie-

laid, most of the footage for Kratt has been shot and post-production has started. “We are making exactly the kind of film Rasmus wanted to make and in the way he likes making films. During the shoot, we had a saying that each day starts with plan B, but plan A happens on location with the cast and crew. Those moments of magic would not have happened any other way and, to me, are the essence of Rasmus’s blueprint as a filmmaker. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why his film school graduation work Alien is one of Estonia’s most watched

Comedic fantasy Kratt is set to premiere in autumn 2020.

Legendary theatre actors Ivo Uukkivi (on the left) and Mari Lill play two of the lead characters in Kratt.

encourages you to worry less. A lesson on fear and what happens if you listen to it. A film for grown-ups and kids,” he said to Estonian Film. “It’s not a film for the faint-hearted. It is something for the brave who live a full-fledged life. It’s like positive, philosophical therapy for rational human beings. Colourful and humorous. A feast for semioticians, a thirst-quenching sip for the dull. A film that talks about modern society, standing up straight, the first cell that split, making yourself ill with your thoughts and about the true faith that all the religions of the world are based upon. A film that kids can understand. A simple, honest story,” described the writer-director. The DOP of Kratt is Jako Krull, the production designer is Krete Tarkmees and the main cast includes Mari Lill, Ivo Uukkivi, Jan Uuspõld, Mari-Liis Lill, Raivo Tuutma, Alo Kurvits and others. EF

short films ever. Kratt is very different from other, similar films. It is set in a contemporary world, it has kids, dark humour and there’s blood. An entertaining cocktail for young and old that won’t leave anyone cold,” Hiielaid added. Director Rasmus Merivoo described Kratt as a bloody story with no bad guys. “It is a comedy that ESTONIAN FILM


Photo by Aron Urb



Shining Brighter Than Ever As the audiovisual landscape is going through rapid seismic changes, Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) and its industry platform will need to continue to put effort into maintaining and increasing relevance, for both, its audience and the professionals. Currently, all signs indicate that PÖFF and Industry@Tallinn are managing to do just that. By Hannes Aava


hen the 17-daylong film marathon finished in December, it was clear that the 23rd edition of Black Nights had broken most of its records as the number of attendances rose by 12% reaching for the first time 90 000, while the number of ac-



credited guests and press rose from 1200 to nearly 1400. The festival had been mentioned in nearly 3000 news stories, raising the potential global media audience to over 2.3 billion people. But even more important than a row of dizzying numbers is the positive feedback the festival received for the competitions’ pro-

The team of Kontora that won the festival’s Grand Prix, left to right composer Yuma Koda, DOP Max Golomidov, Akira Nishibu, actress Wan Marui, director Anshul Chauhan, actress Seira Kojima, co-producer Mina Moteki.

gramming, industry programmes, masterclasses and the launch of the new side-festival Kinoff with a Russian focus in Eastern Estonia. At the awards press conference Mike Newell, the head of the Official Selection Jury, took his time to compliment explicitly five additional films from the programme, besides the six that had won awards, highlighting the artistic and geographic diversity - that have been two pillars of the festival’s programming philosophy. This was underlined by a string of immediate news stories related to films that premiered in the festival’s various competition programmes, helping to cement the new position of Black Nights in the international arena – the central idea being that an A-category film festival is a platform of discovery for new, well-curated content, not only a ‘best-of

Winners of the top industry prize, the Eurimage 20,000 euro co-production development award - director Filip Syczinsky and producer Aleksandra Aleksander for The Great Match.

gradually picking up pace and quality in the Baltics, does indeed offer a lot of new opportunities for all the different creative fields working in film. “But it is not as easy as it looks, as the series industry is fully exposed to market rules and seldom enjoys state support. One of the present challenges for the Baltic industry to fully enter

the global scene and lure big productions here is the lack of sufficient numbers of local below-theline professionals needed in big projects,” added Liiske. This brings us to Creative Gate, a talent and education platform nurtured by I@T & BE for three years, now including workshops for actors, composers, costume designers but also teaching screenwriters, cinematographers, Photo by Erlend Štaub

Beats Forum programme, alongside HBO’s Chernobyl and Amazon’s The Feed. TV Beats Forum also shared the floor with another industry section called Music Meets Film in a panel on film and series music, as Jussi Jaakonaho, the composer of the Finnish crime series All the Sins, tackling the topic of the “tolerance of “music nationality” within film and TV composing. It is noteworthy that this particular series is being produced for the telecommunication company Elisa, that also launched its first Estonian series Traitor, a thriller that world premiered its pilot in the TV Beats programme of Black Nights. According to Black Nights Industry head Marge Liiske the series production, that is now

Photo by Sergei Krasii

programme of other festivals’. To name some examples two competition entries – Gutterbee and Cook, F**K, Kill – were selected into the programme of Rotterdam IFF and a whopping four – The Flying Circus, Gutterbee, Gipsy Queen and Supernova - will travel to Santa Barabara IFF, with the Kosovar comedy The Flying Circus having previously just won the Best International Feature Film award at the Fabrique du Cinema awards in December, from a jury led by director Paul Haggis. Positive news has already emerged states-side as well, as one of the pearls of the US genre landscape, Slamdance IFF has selected two Black Nights world premieres, A Dog’s Death and Tapeworm into its international competition. The cherry on the cake was the news that the highly regarded series network and production house HBO selected the 2018 Grand Prix winner of PÖFF, Colombian-French co-production Wandering Girl for the film selection of its VOD platform. More than ever, it can be said that Black Nights and Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event are breathing together, bound to each other like an ever-evolving organism. The filmmakers presenting their films in the festival programme also held masterclasses for the industry, such as the two-time Academy Award-nominated DOP Dante Spinotti. Another example of the dual nature of the programming is the TV Beats programme, that screened the world premiere of Call Center by Premier Studio’s, created by the renowned art house directors Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov, while it served as one of the case studies in the TV

Director Andrei Konchalovsky receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the festival director Tiina Lokk at the premiere of his latest film Sin.

production designers and other creatives to prepare and pitch their work to scouting agents. 2019 also saw collaborations with Arri Media, Global Screen, West One Music and the European Film Academy in the form of masterclasses by renowned specialists like Peter Hjorth who’s overseen the VFX for most Lars von Trier films or Dalia Colli and Daniela Tartari doing a Dogman case study on how the make-up department can help the director’s vision come alive. The ambitions don’t stop there, however, as the festival’s industry branch is, together with the Estonian Film Institute and the Estonian Film Cluster currently conceptualizing a training programme for young professionals entering the international arena and to fill in the gaps in the Baltic production service capabilities something that has been highlighted by recent top-end productions taking place in Estonia and Lithuania, for example Tenet and Chernobyl. It feels like they are only getting started... EF ESTONIAN FILM



The Beauty of Being

The Circle

Estonian Docs



Estonian documentaries are screening to wide audiences at home and abroad. The DocPoint documentary film festival held at the beginning of February premiered two Estonian documentaries. By Filipp Kruusvall


stonian documentaries are screening to wide audiences at home and abroad. The DocPoint documentary film festival held at the beginning of February premiered two Estonian documentaries. The opening film at DocPoint Tallinn was The Circle, Margit Lillak’s five year observation of the establishment of Estonia’s first eco-community, which had its world premiere at Ji.hlava. The film also screened at DocPoint Helsinki. The festival also premiered Ülo Pikkov’s new short film The Tortoise and the Hare, which is an exciting hybrid between documentary and animation genres. The film is a personal and emotional story of a mother and son and their race against time. Pikkov also received the Young Documentarian award at the DocPoint opening ceremony for his brave experiments with form and the organic symbiosis of animation and documentary in his work. DocPoint Helsinki also screened the Karlovy Vary Grand Prix winning film, Immortal, by Ksenia Okhapkina and coproduced between Estonia and Latvia. The film, which explores the ideology



of contemporary Russian society, has screened at MOMA in New York, where it was part of the prestigious Doc Fortnight 2020 showcase. Immortal was also part of the Trieste IFF program and will screen at ZagrebDox in Croatia in March. NEW FILMS BY JAAN TOOTSEN AND CARL OLSSON The new portrait film by well-known Estonian documentarian Jaan Tootsen about the legendary advocate of Estonian nature, Fred Jüssi, had 9,650 admissions during its opening weekend and gathered nearly 29,000 admissions during its first week in cinemas, which puts it in second place of all time among Estonian documentary cinema admissions. Fred Jüssi. The Beauty of Being is a film about an observer of nature at his most dignified age as much as it is about the beautiful Estonian nature. The only film to have more admissions was the 2019 documentary about rally driver and world champion Ott Tänak, which had a total of 96,000 viewers in cinemas. The Danish-Swedish-Estonian film

The Tortoise and the Hare Meanwhile on Earth was chosen for the Rotterdam and Goteborg film festivals and has Estonia as a minority co-producer. The Estonian producer was Ivo Felt and the music was written by Estonian composer Sten Sheripov. Meanwhile on Earth is a debut full-length film by young, talented Swedish director Carl Olsson that is spiced with black humour and talks about the industries involved with death and those who work in them. The film explores leaving this world and the people who are involved day-to-day with conducting the sacred, yet commonplace rituals involved. ICE AND FIRE DOCS The joint workshop of the Estonian Film Institute and the Estonian Documentary Guild, Ice and Fire Docs, held its third and last session led by tutor Mikael Opstrup and experienced filmmaker Anais Clanet. Six Estonian and two Finnish documentary projects participated in this third installation of the program, which focused on distribution and marketing strategies. As an extension of the program, the Ice and Fire Docs projects were presented and pitched to industry guests on January 31 at DocPoint Helsinki. Ice and Fire Docs will have its next workshop in 2021. EF


23 - 27 NOV, 2020


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HEROES OF OUR TIME Margit Lillak’s documentary film The Circle had its world premiere at the Ji.hlava IDFF in the Czech Republic at the end of 2019. It was also the opening film of this year’s DocPoint festival in Tallinn and screened at DocPoint Helsinki. First published in Eesti Ekspress. Text by Maria Ulfsak Photos by Virge Viertek




he Circle tells the story of the Small Footprint ecocommunity, with its enthusiastic creation, beautiful heyday and sad decline.

Margit, where did you get the idea to make a film about the Small Footprint Community?

One of my acquaintances told me that she was planning to move to an eco-community. That immediately sparked my interest so I went to a gathering of eco-communities. I’d never had contact with such groups. I got to work quickly trying to convince my future characters to let me film them. They were pretty mistrustful at first. They asked this and that about what my plans were and whether I was sincerely interested in the eco-community movement. I answered honestly that I’m not so much interested in the movement as in human beings. But since I initially spent a lot of time with the inhabitants of the community and participated in many of their esoteric practices, their mistrust dissipated over time. I really had to leave my own comfort zone. I jumped in head first and eventually started to blend in.

afraid the Russians are just about to come and occupy them. We in Estonia bear a different subconscious burden of the deportations and wars that our mothers and grandmothers endured. We live with a backdrop of fear and the time of abundance and freedom has been so short that it’s not easy to suddenly start sharing everything and being considerate of others. The idea is great but it doesn’t work in practice. It’s very unusual, at least in Estonia, that a documentary filmmaker gets to observe her protagonists for five years. That’s quite a long time.

I’ve thought about the conditions that would have to exist for me to be able to do that. In order for me to go, there would have to be a very powerful spiritual leader or guru there. Someone who I believe in enough to be willing to sacrifice everything because what I get back would be so good and uplifting that I’d become a new person. I can’t rule out the possibility that if I had been born in the 1950s, I might have been one of Osho’s followers. But to act without a clear focus – in just a mishmash of sustainability and esoteric practices – that’s not really my thing. In order to truly surrender myself, I’d need a higher goal. Do you think the fact that the Small Footprint Community didn’t have a leader may be one of the reasons that they slowly unraveled?

I personally think that communities work better with a spiritual leader and central focus. There are many reasons why this particular venture failed. One problem was that Estonians were trying to adopt a model that works in a Western welfare society. There are a lot of similar, old communities that work there. But the welfare model doesn’t work in Eastern Europe. Sweden hasn’t been at war for 200 years so no one is

Director Margit Lillak with a community member Paavo Eensalu on the set.

In the rest of the world, some films are made over an even longer period. That’s one of the reasons why my characters agreed at the beginning – I told them straight away that I won’t be able to make a film in a couple of years and I want to observe them for a long time. If someone is willing to devote five years of their life – that means 15 percent of my lifespan – to something, they must really want to do it.

Photo by Riinu Lepa

Would you want to live in such a community yourself?

Where did you think this whole thing would end up?

It was immediately clear that the members of the community had very big illusions from the beginning and I probably did too since I really became part of the group. I could see that people were blinded by the falling in love phase. They fell in love with each other and their common goal. That was the moment of celebration – but the day-to-day part became something entirely different. At the beginning, I followed different situations to capture the dramatic arcs of several people on tape. But about nine months into it, it became clear that I didn’t have a choice – a clear love triangle was forming and the people involved would become my main characters. The combination of two powerful women created the situation we see; but if it hadn’t been about love, the drama between them would ESTONIAN FILM


Photo by Riinu Lepa


The more intimate scenes are all filmed by me and thanks to the fact that I was just there, all the time. have flared over something else. Their conflict started smouldering from the beginning – they activated some very subconscious and deep behavioural patterns in each other. How did you film such intimate material? You can’t interrupt someone’s family drama with a complete camera crew. How did you organize that?

I was alone for about 90% of the shoot. The more intimate scenes are all filmed by me and thanks to the fact that I was just there, all the time, on location. Cinematographer Mihkel Soe filmed the beauty

In 2014, 12 adults moved to the Small Footprint Community eco-community with their children. The film follows their life in five years.

shots – the drone shots, larger group scenes and things like that. The Circle shows how a simple experiment can unfold into a timeless tragedy, which becomes much larger than the people taking part in it – the situations that your heroes finally find themselves in, despite looking for harmony and a stress-free life, are psychologically some of the most difficult things people have to face in life.

Nowadays, there’s some kind of ‘instant karma’ – some people’s paths suddenly collide and start to grate together forming an insane centrifuge. It’s like they were living in a human development accelerator. At least they tried a different way of living, tried to find something new – even though they did it at the expense of their own physical and mental health and that of their families and children. But they were brave enough to try. In that sense, they are the heroes of our time. What has become of the Small Footprint Community today?

Four adults and a few children still live there. That’s too few to be called a community. But I still hope that they keep going and find a new impulse. That some new people and new energy will come.

Photo by Riinu Lepa

At the beginning of the film, one of your heroines says quite aptly that they are living in a laboratory. In some sense that’s true – this is like a psychological human experiment conducted in one house for a long time and captured by your camera.


Yes, that’s true. And living together in a large group like that is pretty taxing mentally. Every time I went there to film, I got a severe headache – other people’s strong, often very negative, emotions can be quite exhausting. And sometimes I felt like I was on the set of ESTONIAN FILM

a Dogma 95 film. Only instead of actors they were real people. They lived in such a surreal environment, or bubble. But I could leave every time and go get a cappuccino from a gas station. They were left behind to keep living and reliving the same things day in and day out. Interestingly enough, some of the people in the community ended up feeling pretty lonely even though they were together with other people the whole time. They disappeared into their own worlds and didn’t know how to support the others. Did you have any illusions that were shattered by this experiment?

I was surprised that all of their spiritual practices worked as long as you were in that time and space. But as soon as you step out of that circle of openness, people no longer know how to interact. They may become more aware and open with time, but they still didn’t know how to apply that to practical, real life. It’s very difficult to constantly be understanding, gentle, aware and caring about other people’s and your own needs in your day to day life. The biggest disappointment for me was that they never found forgiveness. I hope that they will one day. I’ve also thought a lot about what a nuclear family is. About how this hanging out together in your ‘happily ever after’ world until you die is actually a social dogma. It seems to me that humans as a species are much more conducive to serial monogamy. And I think we have been since our hunter-gatherer days because we haven’t changed much genetically since then. How much did you have to work on your internal ethical and moral dilemmas about whether to include certain scenes into the film or not? Were you able to stick strictly to what was best for the film when you were so deeply ingrained in their community and relationships?

Of course there were moral dilemmas, especially with one specific character. It was a character who had a hard time and still does. But I’ve been open with them and we still share love and trust between us. There were scenes where I felt like I shouldn’t be there, filming, at all. I was constantly groping around for where to move the boundaries. But if you don’t dare to do that, then there’s no point making a documentary, I think. Finally, those boundaries dissolved and that’s a great feeling. There was no line between me and my subject; we became one. I feel the guiltiest about the fact that a lot of people will watch the film and start judging. But that’s inevitable. But the characters never intervened in the artistic process or demanded that I leave anything out. I guess that was because they’d seen how hard I worked all that time I spent pottering around in the mud with them. Some of them watched the film and thought that reality was actually ten times worse than what went into the film. The film lasts ninety minutes but the process lasted five years, of which the toughest pe-

“The biggest disappointment for me was that they never found forgiveness,” says the director about her experience in the ecocommunity.

riod lasted three and a half years. For me, it was important that the film reflects an empathy for the characters as I rooted for them. I wasn’t trying to be derisive. What happened with them is human and could happen to any of us. Do you have a hard time distinguishing between sincerity and irony with this material? Let’s be honest, sometimes what is happening on screen is pretty hilarious.

When we had our premiere at the Ji.hlava festival, the Czechs laughed so hard that I got pretty worried at first. Fortunately, the room became somber at a certain point. I wasn’t trying to exploit my characters, I was trying to understand them. But I guess they also know how to laugh at themselves and a lot of funny things happened during my visits there. And the reality is that no one could accept all those heavy emotions without some comic relief – the film needs some space and laughter in it. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Milk Explosions &


Let’s start from the beginning: Old Man Cartoon Movie wouldn’t exist without the wacky, crude internet cartoon clips made by the same authors who described them as balancing “on the border between being very bad and ingenious”, which ended up being disproportionately popular in Estonia.


ressing their anarchist genre of episodic jokes into full-length cinema form seemed an almost impossible mission when the idea was broached years ago, so the mere fact of its accomplishment is impressive enough. The feat also proves that we have another animation studio capable of producing serious, technically up to scratch animation films – Bop Animation.



It’s probably inevitable that as the sporadic, absurd humour of the source material underwent its long and complex process of development, it ended up as something with its origins still externally recognizable but that’s also majorly transformed. It’s not that the film isn’t absurdly humorous or robust any more, it’s all the details, backgrounds and thoughtfulness in the film that inevitably contradict the (with animation films, of course seeming) spontaneous

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

Old Man Cartoon Movie By Mari Laaniste First published in Sirp

primitivity that brought fame to the online clips. Fitting into a longer format has more or less been a success: the visuals are polished but not overly so and the computer animation interlaced with puppet animation and changes of environment hold off any risk of drab repetition that could have come so easily considering the source material. Content-wise, Old Man Cartoon Movie is a much more contextualized pastiche of local agricul-

In the context of Estonian film history, the jokes in Old Man Cartoon Movie definitely push the boundaries of stupidity.

tural life and the twisted, grotesque clichés the film borrows from the legacy of commercial films. Take the country bumpkins with their chainsaws, or the mecha cows, or the wizard-like duel with the fountains of milk. All this is clearly the product of teamwork. Perhaps some parts of the whole may rattle a bit and sometimes you can tell they were too overcome with their own good humour, but the main idea or crude humour is just a surface layer for circumspect wit and enjoyable nuance. For example, placing the grandchild in a more central, personable role becomes justified when we feel the unexpectedly genuine portrayal of a brother-sister relationship. The spark in the motor of The Old Man Cartoon Movie is the dynamics between city and country life – only barely hinted at in the original clips – wherein the filmmakers and public both fall on the more urban side. The dim-witted, socioeconomically inept country folk are harnessed to the city folks’ barrel of entertainment. But the filmmaker’s reach is much broader

here and the image of confrontation refers, rather parodically, to 20th century pop culture at large, especially the American tradition of (thriller) films where the country hicks are grotesquely different and often existentially dangerous to their urban counterparts. We don’t actually see the physical city in Old Man Cartoon but its representation in the form of the grandchildren who are saved from the worst by their quick adaptability and the equally grotesque hipsters. The liveliest moments in the middle of the film are the ones where we follow the clash of different value systems: genuine country life with its boundless folly and filth literally falls smack in the middle of the untouched nature where “deep”, urban new agers are holding a festival. In the context of Estonian film history, the jokes in

The spark in the motor of Old Man Cartoon Movie is the dynamics between city and country life.

Old Man Cartoon Movie definitely push the boundaries of stupidity. There are certainly some scenes, such as the non-metaphoric bear ass – that are simple provocation. But the film clearly isn’t about anti-intellectualism: it is trashy entertainment made intentionally and enthusiastically in a camp style by sensible people with a wide base of pop (cultural) references. It’s completely possible that some part of the public might find the film to be too intellectual because of the way it squeezes the most out of each programmed, puerile joke, then goes one step further to make sure the embarrassment reaches a metalevel. The authors claim they realized that the film is about intergenerational relationships. One must agree, even if the film doesn’t quite make it as a relationship drama. Old Man Cartoon Movie is suggestive of the horror of generational change in Estonian animation. One of the notorious tenets of this change is emphatic masculinity (the roaringly vulgar manliness we’ve seen demonstrated time and again) but never to such an extent and with such flair. Everything that came before seems to pale in comparison and even look tasteful in the light of Old Man Cartoon Movie. The production process for this ninety-minute test of tolerance seems to have forgotten that piling vulgarity on top of vulgarity can start to dull the effect. In the last third of the film, unfortunately, there isn’t much left to shock us with. ESTONIAN FILM


REVIEW If we look a little deeper than the puerile surface of Old Man Cartoon Movie, we can see that the substantive undercurrent actually seems to speak of a crisis of masculinity.

are more interpretations possible. For example the extension of the metaphor “we are all cows” to late capitalism and consumerist addiction (though the subject of the Old Man’s dairy clientele is a mere side note in the film) and as a criticism of exploitation. But I think that this might be going a bit far so let’s leave it at that for now.

But shocking us wasn’t the only goal of the authors behind Old Man Cartoon Movie. If we look a little deeper than the puerile surface, we can see that the substantive undercurrent actually seems to speak of a crisis of masculinity. The titular character is the respectable, elder, upright farmer who has been the customary epitome of authority in the grey ages of Estonia. And that’s undoubtedly how the Old Man sees himself. But The film makes him the source of unlimited nonsense – the same place held by the Chukchi people in Soviet anecdotes. The plot, which can largely be reduced to the old man’s attempts to maintain the status quo in the face of a younger generation’s interventions and differing beliefs, could potentially have parallels with our current domestic politics. For the sake of clarity, I must say that the filmmakers have treated their subject with the objective warmth of a nature film rather than with judgement and don’t depict him as enraged as some of his possible reallife counterparts. And then there is the unknowingly stalemated antagonist, the Old Milker, a failed hero figure who clings like a grotesque pariah to



some fixed notion of heroics, of an all-or-nothing identity and yearns to save the world in the shadows of pretence, i.e. for the respect he’s lost. The most direct embodiments of the crisis of ideas and identity in the film are the supporting characters, who are also treated more sensitively in form and character, like the tragicomic, idle, unemployed sawmill worker whose contemplations reach awareness but whose tearfully bleak position makes it clear that awareness is not enough to change something outward or inward. And thus, it’s even possible to read deeper notes into the crude humour. And there

The titular character is the respectable, elder, upright farmer who has been the customary epitome of authority in the grey ages of Estonia.

So where to next? The boundaries have been explored, the filmmakers validated, the visuals refreshed. The results should be relatively satisfactory for the Estonian public and may actually have wider export potential than expected – a decent job for a debut. And looking at our animation industry more broadly, I’d like to hope that this interesting era where four different studios are brave enough to make feature-length animated films isn’t followed by a nuclear hangover and long years of silence. EF




The town of Apatity in the far north-west of Russia, more specifically in the Murmansk region, used to be a Gulag labour camp. Like many other similar places, as the narrative titles in the opening scene of Immortal inform us, people carried on living there after the old system was dismantled.


n her feature-length debut that screened in the Documentary Competition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Russian filmmaker Ksenia Okhapkina takes a visually impressive and ultimately cinematic approach to the themes of indoctrination, ideology, an oppressive system and an imperceptible lack of freedom. The film has a strong sci-fi, dystopian vibe with its snow-clad, otherworldly mountain setting, and predominant grey and silver hues of mine trains and communist-era buildings. This is strengthened by the fully observational approach and fluid editing of frequent long shots, whether with a slowly panning and tracking or fixed camera. This distance that Okhapkina establishes also means that there are no actual characters. Instead, we are watching a system at work. While the adults – who are mostly employed in the local mine, digging for an ore called apatite – waste their free time loitering and drinking, the children are subjected to indoctrination and forced to learn discipline by being involved in the ballet school or the “Youngarmy”. Not that this “forcing” is actually felt in the film; rather, the viewer senses it rationally by watching the


“It’s a strong, hypnotic, aesthetically valid documentary.” Ruggero Calich, film critic “ today’s Russia your life belongs to the state, from the cradle to the grave.” Nick Holdsworth, Modern Times Review “Visually impressive and ultimately cinematic...” Vladan Petkovic, Cineuropa

Best Film in the International Competition Astra Film Festival 2019



Immortal by Vladan Petkovic First published in Cineuropa

girls train or the boys learn how to handle guns – and both groups primarily have to listen to orders. The system in place is a treacherous one – there is an idea of immortality in the group mentality that was constructed in the USSR, and which we recently had a chance to witness in the marvellous HBO show Chernobyl. Modern-day Russia has perpetuated this ideology that, by being a contributing member of a powerful nation and state, one reaches a higher, eternal place in a kind of imaginary hierarchy of humanity. By feeding young children – the boys and girls in the film are 12 years old, at most – with this kind of indoctrination, while simultaneously promoting positive values such as health, sport and physical capabilities, the state is creating a loyal population for generations to come. The very clearly, almost purely, structured film builds towards

Russia’s Ksenia Okhapkina’s feature-length debut Immortal is an Estonian-Latvian documentary filmed in a former Gulag labour camp in the Russian Arctic Circle. The film won the Documentary Competition at Karlovy Vary IFF.

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

a celebration of Heroes of the Fatherland Day, during which the kids will perform in the style of the military parades that were so typical of the Soviet Union, and are still very much loved today in Russia. This movie does not attempt to explain the origin of the system, nor does it try to look at the potential differences between the conscious and unconscious use of propaganda, or its results: it just presents one of the core state-imposed elements of Russian society. There is, in any case, no room for such theorising and philosophy in a film that is predominantly visual in its expression. There could easily be another picture that would explore the nuances of the themes that Immortal simply presents in a convincing manner. But for better or worse, it succeeds in what it was aiming to do, and in a very accomplished way. EF ESTONIAN FILM




Unicorns You Fail, Pick Yourself Up and Start Over Again

A new, Estonian comedy shows the frustrating but exciting world of start-ups. In the U.S. everyone has their own car, but in Estonia everyone has their own start-up. That just about sums up how the new Estonian film Chasing Unicorns begins.


he mythological creature who doesn’t really exist is a good parallel for a start-up valued at a billion euros. Success like that is so rare that it’s kind of like a fantastical creature that no one’s ever seen but some crazy/genius people still strive to find. That’s what this film is about as it cheerfully dances around the line between healthy self-irony and rapture, showing the absurd land of opportunity that is the start-up world. The film conjures the phenomena where something that doesn’t



Ink Big! The critics have done their job

really exist can have a value of five million or 200 million – how you are really selling something that isn’t there yet. “Fake it ’til you make it,” as the main characters say. The chances of success are small and failure is high but if you do make it, you make it very, very big. You can tell that the filmmakers are familiar with this topic and it is close to their hearts – director Rain Rannu is a start-up entrepreneur himself. And their experiences flow together into a nice, entertaining film. There’s no need to look for great artistic achievement

Chasing Unicorns By Katariina Rebane First published in Eesti Päevaleht here, but there’s also nothing visually or artistically that interferes with the viewing experience, if you rule out the few rougher scenes reminiscent of TV acting. The film was also made in the spirit of a start-up with a fairly small crew. It

Central characters on Chasing Unicorns - Õie (Liisa Pulk, on the left), Tõnu (Henrik Kalmet) and investor Kuusela (Anti Kobin, on the right).

The film conjures the phenomena where something that doesn’t really exist can have a value of five million or 200 million. is nonetheless a great leap forward compared to Rannu’s crude, 2016 film Chasing Ponies. Chasing Unicorns is constructed meticulously and runs smoothly. Even though the film seemingly has two main characters, it’s more the story of Õie (Liisa Pulk) and can be summarized with the American adage – from mailman to millionaire. But the mailman in this case is accountant Õie, an intrepid girl from small-town Estonia who becomes a badass in Silicon Valley. It all begins when Õie’s outdated manufacturing industry boss refuses to give her a raise despite having promised to do so. He merely keeps hinting that there may be an opportunity for a better salary. That Õie is such a nice, good girl but she could be even nicer. At this, Õie packs up her things and starts off on her journey to San Francisco with a stop at our local Telliskivi Creative Hub on the way – where she meets her future business partner Tõnu (Hendrik Kalmet). Õie’s extremely disciplined, Excel-toting nature gets a run for her money when she realizes that sometimes deception is better than effort and real dangers may await those who

don’t know the rules of this game. And that a win may turn out to be a loss leaving you with nothing even after giving you a taste of success. Fortunately, the film isn’t educational but rather a humorous journey about dreaming and brazen courage and never giving up. The story develops quickly as do the young entrepreneur’s ideas – anything from a pink, 3D-printed helmet to a self-propelled bicycle. The stakes get bigger and bigger as does the pressure to realize their big idea. The journey full of highs and lows is enriched by their encounters and other characters. In addition to the Pulk and Kalmet tandem, which works well throughout the whole film, there is a slew of interesting supporting roles, such as Johann Urb as a venture capitalist or Anti Kobin as an angel investor. The film uses slang and terminology from the start-up scene, which offers opportunity for fresh humour and smug, unexpected situations and ample opportunity to empathize with the main characters’ journey. The film draws a contrast between the traditional, conservative business model in danger of ex-

Õie and Tõnu try to find investors to their innovative 3D-printed bicycle helmet.

tinction and new business models. The definitions for success and profitability are also different than what we are used to. And the result is a bunch of guys sitting in some garage somewhere, slurping smoothies and coming up with new ideas and new companies every day. Your last one failed, so what. “You fail, you pick yourself up and you start over.” Even though somewhere there is still a world where your father collects money in an envelope and guests are served juice, beet salad and pork roast. The film has a good vibe as it makes fun of everything from the backward, inept CEO who still doesn’t realize that his time is over, to the young entrepreneurs whose every garage-baked idea is nuttier than the last. All in all, Chasing Unicorns is a fast-paced story full of humorous and fresh situations. And probably offers that sense of recognition to anyone with one, two or three hands in the start-up world and a The Big Short-style education to anyone who’s not familiar with the start-up lingo. This is good-humoured film and a nice dose of entertainment for anyone navigating the rainy, autumn weather outside. EF




Unexpected Turns IN YOUR HONOR THE

Director Andres Puustusmaa’s films have often focused on hardened criminals – Red Mercury, based on Andres Anvelt’s novel, examined the underbelly of the 90s and his recent Green Cats was about a couple of oafs who just got out of prison. But his new film, Your Honor, turns its attention – as the name indicates – to the other side of the law.


he nameless lead (played by Mait Malmsten) is a disgruntled judge recently abandoned by his wife. Then, during a trial, he decides to ignore the most recent evidence presented and sentences the defendant to 15 years behind bars. That is the catalyst for his confrontation with the convicted woman’s brother, which develops from a



Ink Big! The critics have done their job

physical scuffle into a much more psychologically complex, even metaphysical test of strength. In the whirlwind of events, the judge escapes across the bay to Finland, bringing several changes in the film’s tonality and genre with his new physical location. Sometimes the tone and genre even change from scene to scene. The film starts as a court room drama, then suddenly turns into a film

noir-like thriller, then follows in Kaurismäki’s absurd footsteps only to become a road movie that ends up in a Kafkaesque world of existentialism evoking Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire. These comparisons may bring a sparkle to the film buff’s eye but they have a hard time working together in one movie. Your Honor is a black and white film, which reinforces the contradictions – like good vs. bad and right vs. wrong – which are at the heart of the plot and then contrast with their gradual merging and obscuring. The judge stumbles from one strange situation to another, almost like the main character in Veiko Õunpuu’s The Temptation of St. Tony. Some scenes, like the halted truck driv-

Your Honor By Andrei Liimets First published in Eesti Ekspress er’s monologue, have a wonderful tragi-comedic element to them, whereas others, like the café flirtation, seem more random and over the top. The contrast between realistic psychological plausibility and purposefully surrealist symbolism is intriguing, while it also disrupts the viewers connection to the events unfolding. Your Honor is certainly Puustusmaa’s most ambitious and

open to interpretation film. The last third with its string of unexpected twists is particularly pretentious. Instead of the long silences and chitchat, the weakest moments are the monologues that replace showing as a form of telling. How much of the film’s philosophical reach ultimately sticks

The central characters in Your Honor are played by Mait Malmsten (on the left) and Märt Avandi.

“Murheelisten laulujen maa” (“The Land of Grieving Songs”) to spontaneously play in your head. Priit Pajusaar’s minimalist soundtrack complements the film well. Puustusmaa’s work with the actors is first class. The Class Reunion trilogy has made us forget that Mait Malmsten is one of our most well-known and respectable actors. In Your Honor he reminds us of what he’s capable, with his screen presence and talent. The economic use of dialogue in the

Your Honor is certainly Puustusmaa’s most ambitious and open to interpretation film. depends on the viewer’s patience and willingness to delve into the events and relate to the abstractions. Director of photography Andrei Kulpin has done a good job. Both his static compositions and moving nature shots make the film look great. The plethora of drone shots of the snowy Finnish nature and gloomy expressions can cause Eppu Normaali’s evergreen hit

film allows his troubled expressions and wandering glances to speak for themselves. Märt Avandi, as the brother of the convicted woman, gets much less screen time but he uses it effectively. The intensity of the pivotal encounter with the judge is a demonstration of the strength of these two actors. Thanks to them, it’s much easier to follow the twists and turns taken by the film. EF ESTONIAN FILM


Photo by Eesti Joonisfilm


Photo by KVIFF

Scandinavian Silence’s producer Elina Litvinova and director Martti Helde at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Lotte’s team - producer Kalev Tamm, directors Janno Põldma and Heiki Ernits at film’s international premiere at Berlin International Film Festival

Festival Highlights Estonian films travelled the world and made it to some of the most influential festivals, including Berlinale, Shanghai, Karlovy Vary, Busan, Warsaw, Annecy, Cairo, Ottawa, Hot Docs and IDFA. By Aurelia Aasa


record number of six films were selected to the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival. These were Scandinavian Silence, Your Honor, Take It or Leave It, Lotte and the Lost Dragons, Teofrastus, documentary Bridges of Time (Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania), which also won the Best Documentary Film Award. In addition to Shanghai, Scandinavian Silence, directed by Martti Helde, made it to the 41st Cairo International Film Festival. It was also in the East of the West competition at Karlovy Vary, where it received the Europa Cinemas Label Award. Tanel Toom’s debut feature Truth



Scandinavian Silence

and Justice, which made it to the Oscar’s short list, had its international premiere at the 24th Busan International Film Festival, where it was selected for the World Cinema section. This year, Annecy International Anima­ tion Festival saw a remarkable amount of Estonian animated shorts. Together with student films, nine films made it to the world’s top animation festival. Three of them: The Demonstration of Brilliance in Three Acts (Estonia-Croatia), directed by Morten Tshinakov and Lucija Mrzljak, Toomas Beneath the Valley of the Wild Wolves (Estonia-Croatia-France) directed by Chintis Lundgren and Life24 directed by Kristjan Holm were in the official short film competition. Ottawa International Animation Fes-

Phantom Owl Forest’s main actress Paula Rits at Schlingel International Film Festival, where she received the Best Children’s Actor Award

Photo by Luxfilm

Photo by Nafta Films

Virago’s team in the middle of the Q&A at Warsaw International Film Festival


tival greeted Toomas Beneath the Valley of the Wild Wolves, Orpheus by Priit Tender and Teofrastus, which also received a special mention. Warsaw International Film Festival had three Estonian films in their selection: Lotte and the Lost Dragons, Your Honor by Andres Puustusmaa and short film Virago by Kerli Kirch Schneider. Short horror film Bad Hair by Oskar Lehemaa conquered the horror film scene. Among other festivals, it was screened at Fantasia and Fantastic Fest. EF

To Share or Not to Share, directed by Minna Hint and Meelis Muhu premiered at Hot Docs, in the program The Changing face of Europe. Short documentary Waiting for a Miracle, directed by Aljona Surzhikova was also selected by Hot Docs. In Bed with a Writer, directed by Manfred Vainokivi premiered at Dok Leipzig, where it was selected for the International Competition Programme. The Weight of In Bed with a Writer

Photo by KVIFF


Lotte and the Lost Dragons (Estonia-Latvia) directed by Janno Põldma and Heiki Ernits, started its festival circuit at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, where the Estonian animated adventure premiered in Generation Kplus. The film later travelled to more than 25 film festivals, among others Stockholm Junior, Shanghai, Warsaw, Giffoni, Cinekid and Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

Ksenia Okhapkina at Karlovy Vary, where Immortal was awarded with the Grand Prix for the Best Documentary Film

All the Beauty by Eva Mägi was in the International Short Film Programme there. Immortal, directed by Ksenia Okhapkina premiered at Karlovy Vary, where it won Grand Prix for Best Documentary Film. The film was later selected to festivals such as IDFA’s Best of Fests section, Viennale and many other international festivals. Immortal was the winner of the International Competition of the 26th edition of the Astra Film Festival. The Circle, a film about an eco-community, directed by Margit Lillak, premiered at the 23rd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.


Short puppet film Teofrastus, directed by Sergei Kibus made it to more than 40 festivals. Next to others, it was selected by festivals such as Zlin, Shanghai, Ottawa. Among other awards, it received the Best Children’s Film Golden Gunnar at the Fredrikstad Animation Festival. Phantom Owl Forest, directed by Anu Aun, made it to the most important children’s films festivals: Zlin, Giffoni, Shclingel. Among other numerous awards, the film received three prizes at Shclingel: European Children’s Film Award by the Saxon Ministry of Culture, Diamant Award for the Best Children’s Actor and the Award of the FIPRESCI Jury. ESTONIAN FILM



Statistics 2019 2019 CINEMA TOP 10

English title

Truth and Justice

2019 ESTONIAN FILMS TOP 10 English title


1 Truth and Justice

267 588

2 Class Reunion 3

122 146

3 Ott Tänak: The Movie

96 232

4 Old Man Cartoon Movie

86 649

5 Lotte and the Lost Dragons

76 745

6 Men

31 735

7 Chasing Unicorns

29 013

8 Self Made Cameraman

25 287

9 Phantom Owl Forest (2018)

25 094

10 Funny Family (2018)




1 Truth and Justice

267 588

1 555 490,63


2 Class Reunion 3

122 146

751 532,00


3 The Lion King

112 606

646 565,85


4 The Secret Life of Pets 2

109 364

547 745,00

US / FR / JP

5 Joker

100 423

700 702,02


6 Frozen 2

98 506

567 480,93


7 Ott Tänak: The Movie

96 232

568 670,50


8 How to Train Your Dragon 3

89 766

483 315,00


9 Avengers: Endgame

88 958

632 517,99


86 649

559 023,04


10 Old Man Cartoon Movie

Class Reunion 3

18 749

CINEMA ADMISSIONS Foreign Films Estonian Films 2 982 647 2 837 562 3 228 511 2 943 714


2 742 646

Ott Tänak: The Movie




Europe Estonia 13

5,43 47,7






5,37 5



29,5 648 665

847 960








24 23

350 635 347 036 282 421



















Truth and Justice


stonia, 1870. Young and staunch Andres along with his wife Krõõt arrive at a farm bought on a loan to establish their new life. Desolate and neglected between the marshes, Robber’s Rise must be transformed into a place that will take care of the family. All they have to do is to break the resistance of the barren land, make his neighbour cooperate, and raise an heir – a son to inherit his father’s life’s work. But when nature refuses to bend, the neighbour turns out to be a roughneck rival, and Krõõt keeps giving birth to daughters, Andres struggles to find the right way. In his desperate search for truth and justice – from the court, the tavern and the Bible, he sacrifices his family, his friends and eventually himself. The beautiful dream of prosperous and nurturing Robber’s Rise gives way to an obsession, resulting in none of the things Andres wanted and everything he was afraid of.

FILM INFO Tanel Toom

DIRECTOR TANEL TOOM is an Oscar-nominated director and a Directing Fiction graduate of the National Film and Television School, UK. He has directed 10 short films and around 50 commercials. His shorts have been to over 35 international festivals (including San Sebastian, Warsaw and Venice Film Festival) and won numerous awards, including Best Foreign Film at the 37th Student Academy Awards for his short film The Confession. The same film was also nominated for an Oscar in the Best Live Action Short category at the 83rd Academy Awards. Tanel has a passion for stories that speak to the hearts as well as the mind; he likes to impact the audience, whether with fear, laughter or bittersweet pain. He loves to play with atmosphere and emotion, and is in love with his actors, always wanting to make them shine.

Original title: Tõde ja õigus Genre: drama Language: Estonian Director: Tanel Toom Screenwriter: Tanel Toom Cinematographer: Rein Kotov E.S.C. Production Designer: Jaagup Roomet Editor: Tambet Tasuja Composer: Mihkel Zilmer Sound Designer: Matis Rei Main cast: Priit Loog, Priit Võigemast, Maiken Schmidt, Simeoni Sundja, Ester Kuntu Producer: Ivo Felt Co-producers: Armin Karu, Madis Tüür Produced by: Allfilm Domestic premiere: February 20, 2019 Festivals: Busan IFF, Palm Springs FF 149 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Allfilm Ivo Felt +372 672 9070 SALES Films Boutique +49 30 69 53 78 50





Scandinavian Silence


film with three parts, two characters and one obsession: to prevent the past from taking over.

DIRECTOR MARTTI HELDE is a highly valued young author for his daring ideas and innovative approach to the form and film language. His creative handwriting is characterized by tying together complex and diverse mediums; as well as Helde’s passion to play with the dramaturgy and form. Martti finished a BA degree in Film Directing at the Baltic Film

and Media School. After film school Martti turned his interest towards the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (Higher Drama School) to acquire a Master’s degree in Stage Directing. Helde has also refined himself in screenwriting, dramaturgy and directing actors via completing various workshops in Berlin, Ankara, Los Angeles and London. His first feature length period drama In the Crosswind (2014) received a wide resonance in international media after premiering in Toronto IFF and its theatrical release in France (ARP Selection).

Original title: Skandinaavia vaikus Genre: drama Language: Estonian Director: Martti Helde Screenwriters: Nathaniel Price, Martti Helde Cinematographers: Erik Põllumaa E.S.C., Sten-Johan Lill E.S.C. Production Designer: Anneli Arusaar Editor: Jaak Ollino Jr. Composer: Mick Pedaja Sound: Matis Rei Main cast: Rea Lest, Reimo Sagor Producer: Elina Litvinova Co-producers: Laurent Petin, Michele Halbserstadt, Frederic de Goldschmidt Produced by: Three Brothers (Estonia), ARP Selection (France), Media International (Belgium) Domestic premiere: March 28, 2019 Festivals: Shanghai IFF, Karlovy Vary, HIFF – Love & Anarchy, European FF Palic, Cairo IFF, Thessaloniki IFF, CinEast FF, Alexandre Trauner ART/Film Festival, Nordic Film Days Lübeck, Riga IFF, Tallinn Black Nights FF, Goa IFF 75 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / Dolby Digital CONTACT Three Brothers Elina Litvinova +372 5691 3377 SALES ARP Selection Eric Vicente



Your Honor


he Judge (Mait Malmsten) is a man who represents strict rules and laws in the courtroom. However, his own personal life is an absolute mess. After the judge makes a decision to give a long prison sentence to a woman, the woman’s brother (Märt Avandi) starts following the judge to change his mind about the verdict. The judge stays adamant. The verdict is final. A conflict takes place between the men, resulting in the judge suddenly becoming a criminal himself. Unable to confess his crime, the judge escapes to Finland, where a series of comedic twists and turns lead him to a number of strange people and comical situations.

FILM INFO DIRECTOR ANDRES PUUSTUSMAA born on July 19, 1971 in Tallinn. In 1994 he graduated Tallinn Conservatoire’s drama school as an actor. He then worked as an actor at the Estonian Drama Theatre until 2002. In 2002, Puustusmaa went on to study at the Higher Scriptwriting and Film Directing Course in Moscow. After graduation, he worked as a director at Lenfilm and Mosfilm. Since 2004, Andres Puustusmaa has been a lecturer in film and television at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. Selected filmography: 1814 (2007), Rat Trap (2011), Red Mercury (2011), Green Cats (2018), Your Honor (2019)

Original title: Kohtunik Genre: comedy, drama, crime Languages: Estonian, Finnish Director: Andres Puustusmaa Screenwriter: Andres Puustusmaa Cinematographer: Andrey Kulpin Editor: Andreas Lenk Composer: Priit Pajusaar Sound: Indrek Soe Main cast: Mait Malmsten, Märt Avandi Producer: Katerina Monastryskaya Produced by: Leo Production International premiere: June 2019, Shanghai IFF Festivals: Window to Europe, Warsaw IFF, Rome IFF 95 min / DCP / Scope / 5.1 CONTACT ACME Film Katre Valgma +372 53 023 005





Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway


pecial Agent DT Gagano dreams of leaving the CIA to open a business with his wife Malin. The night he’s about to present his resignation letter a strange cyber virus attacks the agency’s operating system effectively sidetracking his plans. Traveling into virtual reality dimensions, Gagano and his partner will infiltrate the system to erad-

icate the virus. Things however, will not go as planned when the virus takes over the system and starts creating games to compete against itself, leaving the entire world’s stability in jeopardy. Are Gagano and the CIA peons in these sinister games? While the virus capabilities start reaching out into the real world, developing obscure and complex political plots, Gagano, trapped in the virtual reality must find a way to guarantee his escape and his survival only to disco­ver that nothing is what it seems.



DIRECTOR MIGUEL LLANSÓ born in Madrid, 1979. A big fan of experimental-punk-weird music and films, he studied philosophy and cinema before leaving on his many adventures, like Jean Rouch or Werner Herzog. For him, filmmaking is friendship, risk, provocation, subversion and freedom. Crumbs (2015) - a post apocalyptic Afro-Futuristic adventure in Ethiopia - was Miguel’s feature film debut and was theatrically released in the U.S. and Spain. Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway is Miguel’s second film.

Original title: Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway / Jeesus juhatab sind kiirteele Genre: sci-fi, thriller Language: English Director: Miguel Llansó Screenwriter: Miguel Llansó Cinematographers: Israel Seoane, Erik Põllumaa E.S.C., Michal Babinec Production Designer: Anna-Liisa Liiver VFX Design: Paddy Eason Editor: Velasco Broca Sound: Artis Dukalskis Main cast: Daniel Tadesse Gagano, Agustín Mateo, Guillermo Llansó, Gerda-Anette Allikas, Lauri Lagle, Iveta Pole, Solomon Tashe, Carlo Pironti, Rene Köster Producers: Sergio Uguet de Resayre, Meseret Argaw, Kristjan Pütsep, Miguel Llansó, Guna Stahovska, Daniel Taye Workou, Andy Starke, Cristian Nicolescu Produced by: Lanzadera Films (ES), Alasti Kino (EE), Mojo Raiser Production (LV),Rook Films (UK), Birabiro Films (ET) World premiere: July 2019, Neuchatel International Fantastic FF Festivals and awards: Fantasia FF Audience award, Monterrey FF, Helsinki IFF, Sitges FF, Chicago IFF, Trieste Science+Fiction Festival, Leeds IFF, Tallinn Black Nights FF, Gijon IFF 82 min / 2K / 1.85:1 / 5.1

Miguel Llansó

Contact Lanzadera Films Sergio Uguet de Resayre +1 32 3251 0167

Chasing Unicorns


hasing Unicorns follows a young startup entrepreneur Õie and a serial failure Tõnu on their crazy ride from small town Estonia to Silicon Valley — and back.

DIRECTOR RAIN RANNU is an Estonian technology entrepreneur, investor and filmmaker. He has written and directed the independent roadmovie Chasing Ponies (2016) and the first Estonian narrative virtual reality short Beqaa VR (2018). Together with producer Tõnu Hiielaid, Rain is a founder of the indie movie company Tallifornia, focusing on author-driven genre movies for the international audiences.

FILM INFO Rain Rannu

Original title: Ükssarvik Genre: comedy, drama, road-movie Languages: English, Estonian Director: Rain Rannu Screenwriter: Rain Rannu Cinematographer: Ants Tammik Production Designer: Katrin Sipelgas Editors: Rain Rannu, Moonika Põdersalu Composer: Janek Murd Sound: Markus Andreas Main cast: Liisa Pulk, Henrik Kalmet, Johann Urb, Rogelio Douglas Jr. Producers: Rain Rannu, Tõnu Hiielaid Co-producer: Aet Laigu Produced by: Tallifornia Domestic premiere: September 13, 2019 Festivals: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 108 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Tallifornia







ain, the older brother of Ats, a 11year old kid growing up in a small seaside town, returns to the family home, where their authoritarian father and their mother are on the verge of losing love. Ats is witnessing the clash of two men, his father and his brother, two stubborn men from different generations with different views of the world. When father tries to push Rain into the boundaries of his world, he finds instead hope in Aleksandra, a mysterious woman with a shady past. DIRECTOR JANNO JÜRGENS born in 1985 in Haapsalu, Estonia. He has made different experiments in the short film genre since 2006. Janno graduated from the Baltic Film and Media School in 2012 as a film director. His short film Dis-



Janno Jürgens

Original title: Rain Genre: drama Language: Estonian Director: Janno Jürgens Screenwriters: Janno Jürgens, Anti Naulainen Cinematographer: Erik Põllumaa E.S.C. Production Designer: Matis Mäesalu Editor: Przemysław Chruscielewski Sound Designer: Artis Dukalskis Main cast: Indrek Ojari, Rein Oja, Marcus Borkmann, Magdalena Popławska Producer: Kristjan Pütsep Produced by: Alasti Kino To be released: March 20, 2020 96 min / 2K / 1.85:1 / 5.1

tance had its world premiere at Locarno Film Festival in 2012.

CONTACT Alasti Kino Kristjan Pütsep +327 5667 3727


Goodbye, Soviet Union


ohannes is born into an Ingrian-Finnish family in the Estonian Soviet Republic. When his mother leaves for Finland, and he’s left to be raised by his grandparents, Johannes is forced to face life on his own. He falls deeply in love with his classmate, Vera, takes risks, gets into fights, and gets punished… all the while, in the background, the Evil Empire collapses. As the Lenins fall and

Lauri Randla

Finland. His filmography to date consists of several short films, among them Mausoleum (2016), which has won several international awards: Best Foreign Film at 2016 Toronto Short Film Festival, audience prize from ShortCuts Bucharest in Romania, Best Film at Scanorama festival in Vilnius, London Lift-Off FF – Best Short Film, Discover Film Awards/UK - Best Narrative.

Original title: Hüvasti, NSVL Genre: drama-comedy Languages: Estonian, Ingrian, Russian Director: Lauri Randla Screenwriter: Lauri Randla Cinematographer: Elen Lotman E.S.C. Production Designer: Jaana Jüris Costume Designer: Mare Raidma Editors: Leo Liesvirta, Andres Hallik Composer: Lauri Randla Sound: Karri Niinivaara Main cast: Niklas Kouzmitchev, Nika Savolainen, Ülle Kaljuste, Tõnu Oja, Pääru Oja, Jekaterina Novosjolova, Elene Baratašvili, Dima Bespalov, Anne Reemann, Piret Krumm, Sten Karpov, Viktor Lanberg, Enrico Oja Producer: Peeter Urbla Co-producers: Mark Lwoff, Misha Jaari Produced by: Exitfilm (Estonia), Bufo (Finland) To be released: March 26, 2020 91 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Exitfilm Peeter Urbla +372 515 9696

the Barbie dolls take over, the crocodile Genas and the Moskvitches are forced to step aside, leaving the road to the West wide open! Lauri Randla’s Goodbye, Soviet Union is a comedy about the adventures of the eccentric Tarkkinen family in the last days of the Soviet Union. DIRECTOR LAURI RANDLA has a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Film Art from Aalto/ELO film school in




The Last Ones


he Lapland tundra. Dilapidated shipping containers and construction trailers are piled up in a mining village, a hotbed of tension between reindeer herders and local miners. Rupi, a tough young miner, estranged from his family of reindeer herders, falls in love with his friend’s wife, who has also caught the eye of the owner of the mine, nicknamed The Fisherman. The two men are set on a collision course after The Fisherman seems to have killed the husband and Rupi escapes into the tundra with the wife. What can a young man do at all, under this endless and indifferent sky? Kill, kill, kill? Dance, dance, dance? DIRECTOR VEIKO ÕUNPUU Veiko’s debute Autumn Ball was awarded in Venice Orizzonti in 2007. For his

Veiko Õunpuu

second film, The Temptation of St Tony, he recieved the European Talent Award in 2008. The film premiered in Sundance and Rotterdam. In 2008 he has been chosen to be among the 100 most intriguing contemporary film directors in the book 10*10 in Film by Phaidon Publishing. Veiko’s feature Free Range - Ballad on Approving of the World premiered at Berlinale in 2014. The Last Ones has been selected to Les Arcs’ Works in Progress and will be released in 2020.

FILM INFO Original title: Viimased Genre: drama Language: Finnish Director: Veiko Õunpuu Screenwriters: Veiko Õunpuu, Heikki Huttu-Hiltunen, Eero Tammi Cinematographer: Sten Johan Lill E.S.C. Production Designer: Otso Linnalaakso Editors: Wouter van Luijn, Xander Nijsten Sound: Mark Glynne Main cast: Pääru Oja, Laura Birn, Tommi Korpela, Elmer Bäck, Samuli Edelmann, Sulevi Peltola, Jarkko Lahti Producer: Katrin Kissa Co-producers: Mark Lwoff, Misha Jaari, Ellen Havenith Produced by: Homeless Bob Production (Estonia), Bufo (Finland), PRPL (The Netherlands) To be released: Spring 2020 117 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Homeless Bob Production Katrin Kissa +372 5667 7855



Bad Hair


nsecure and balding Leo (35) has closed himself in his apartment. A mysterious hair growth liquid arrives at his doorstep and Leo uses it to fix up his looks. The liquid causes a series of grotesque metamorphoses with Leo’s hair and skin, culminating with hairs sprouting out of his eyeballs. Leo tries desperately to get bodily changes under control as the events of the evening quickly turn into chaos. DIRECTOR OSKAR LEHEMAA was born in 1988 in Pärnu, Estonia. Growing up in a dull small town, watching action flicks and making silly short films was the perfect escape from reality. Today these passions have become a career, as Oskar infuses his works with a love for genre, from comedy to gory horror. Regardless of the

FILM INFO Oskar Lehemaa

project or genre, there seems to be a common thread – a pinch of humor is always added. Bad Hair is Oskar’s debut film as a director. He recently worked as a co- writer/ director on a feature animation Old Man Cartoon Movie which was released in 2019.

Original title: Karv Genre: horror Language: no dialogue Director: Oskar Lehemaa Screenwriter: Oskar Lehemaa Cinematographer: Ivar Taim Production Designer: Triin Valvas Editors: Sander-Kalle Somma, Oskar Lehemaa Composer: Paul Oja Sound: Aleksandra Koel, Markus Andreas Main cast: Sten Karpov Producer: Evelin Penttilä Produced by: Stellar Film Domestic premiere: April 26, 2019 Haapsalu Horror & Fantasy FF (Winner of Silver Melies) Festivals and awards: Fantasia Film Festival – Audience Choice, Fantastic Fest – Best Short Film, Screamfest – Best Short Film, Montreal Spasm – Most Disgusting Film, Les Arcs FF, Sundance FF 15 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Stellar Film Evelin Penttilä +372 5552 3500 SALES Origine Films France Chen Ming






man falls off a roof. Another one drowns. Another catches fire. Wherever you look, men are dropping like flies. “May God rest their souls,” sigh the widows as they cross themselves somberly. This is the life and the death of the men in Virago—a village where for centuries no man has lived long enough to see his fortieth birthday. Until today. Inspired by true events and set in rural Estonia where the harsh realities of present day weave with the mystical, this film tells the story of viragos – women who possess both heroic and hostile qualities. DIRECTOR KERLI KIRCH SCHNEIDER is an Estonian filmmaker, born in 1985, who is currently completing her Ph.D. in Media Communication at the University of Miami, where she conducts research

FILM INFO on film and teaches various cinema and pop culture related courses. Through the film program at the University of Miami, Kerli made her first experiments in the world of movies — both in terms of screenwriting and directing. She is also part of a Miami female filmmakers group in which she works as 1st AD for a trilogy that focuses on themes of love and sexuality through dark humor. In the summer of 2018, Kerli directed her first professionally produced short film, Virago, for which she wrote the screenplay during her Film Studies at the University of Miami. Kerli is currently working on two feature film scripts. She approaches the themes of hyperreality, destiny, mythology and superstition through the lens of magical realism and dark comedy, usually incorporating strong and mysterious female characters.

Original title: Virago Genre: dark comedy Language: Estonian Director: Kerli Kirch Schneider Screenwriter: Kerli Kirch Schneider Cinematographer: Mart Ratassepp E.S.C. Production Designer: Kaia Tungal Editor: Marion Koppel Main cast: Tiina Tauraite, Juhan Ulfsak, Anneli Rahkema, Hilje Murel Producer: Diana Mikita Produced by: Nafta Films World premiere: October 2019, Festival du nouveau cinéma Montreal Festivals: Warsaw IFF, PÖFF Shorts, Cottbus FF, Trieste FF, Cork FF 15 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 & stereo CONTACT Nafta Films Diana Mikita +372 522 9120 SALES interfilm Berlin Management GmbH Cord Dueppe



Karl and Carla


dystopia taking a humorous look into the near future, where the over-regulation of society will lead to unexpected consequences in everyday human relationships. Karl and Carla are young, successful people. They are nice, confident, stylish. The flowers of life, meeting one evening in the MeetingPlace Lounge. After a quick acquaintance, they decide to spend the night at her apartment. They enter a written contract that gives them the right to perform a sexual intercourse that night, stating the precise ways for it. Regrettably, Karl starts to like Carla… But then it all turns out to be a social advertisement commissioned by the Institute of Happiness. And in professional communication, there is no place at all

for any deeper human connection or liking. The commercial will have to be remade. Yet the people behind the curtains will still live just like their nature guides them. And humans can’t resist their nature. DIRECTOR ANDRES KEIL born in 1974, is an Estonian filmmaker with a background in documentaries. Working for Finland (2006) looked at the work of Estonians in Finland before the economic crisis of 2008, Folk juu! (2012) explored the Viljandi Folk Music Festival, To Whom the Pulse Clock is Beaten (2014) followed the lives of amateur athletes and Katk (2016) talked about fentanyl addiction in Estonia. Keil has also contributed as a screenwriter, photographer and actor.

FILM INFO Original title: Karl ja Carla Genre: sci-fi, comedy Language: Estonian Director: Andres Keil Screenwriter: Andres Keil Cinematographer: Madis Reimund Production Designer: Katrin Sipelgas Editor: Martin Männik Main cast: Elina Purde, Sten Karpov, Rasmus Kaljujärv, Eva Koldits Producer: Jaak Kilmi Produced by: Pimik To be released: 2020 20 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Pimik,




The Wings



n spite of everything the blue skies have been conquered thanks to such visionaries as Leonardo da Vinci and freak village inventors. Freak inventor Jaan’s far-fetched dreams about ascending to the clouds are about to materialize when he’s joined by the great Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci’s spirit. Instead, Jaan’s wife Lisa, neglected by the crazy genius, gets metamorphosed into a winged creature and is “catapulted” into the blue skies, where dreams meet. DIRECTOR RIHO UNT was born in 1956. He graduated from the Estonian State Institute of Arts in 1982 as a Set Designer. Since then he has worked in Nukufilm studio as a director. His films



Riho Unt

have won numerous awards and travelled to major animation festivals. His short animation The Master was selected as the best Estonian film of 2015 by the Estonian Association of Film Journalists.

Original title: Tiivad Languages: Estonian, English Director: Riho Unt Screenwriter: Riho Unt Director of Photography: Ragnar Neljandi Animators: Marili Toome, Triin Sarapik-Kivi, Märt Kivi Production Designer: Riho Unt Editors: Riho Unt, Ragnar Neljandi Composer: Olav Ehala Technique: stop-motion Producer: Kerdi Oengo Produced by: Nukufilm Domestic premiere: November 5, 2019 12 min / DCP / 1:1,86 / 5.1 CONTACT Nukufilm +372 615 5322

Old Man Cartoon Movie


he protagonist, the Old Man, is visited in his farm by grandkids who have been dropped off for the summer. Determined to make his progeny see the simple beauty of country living, he ends up working them like slaves, only to have the little bastards accidentally set loose his prized and thoroughly abused cow. Now the Old Man and his grandkids have just 24 hours to find the rogue bovine, before her unmilked udder explodes and unleashes lactopalypse, or before the mysterious Old Milker lethally disarms her. On their epic journey, our heroes must face festival hippies, forest creeps, sawmill workers and other

dangers commonly found in the Estonian countryside. DIRECTOR OSKAR LEHEMAA is an Estonian film director. He was born in 1988, in Pärnu. He graduated his Audiovisual Media BA in the Baltic Film and Media School. For the last ten years he has been working as a director for commercials, film and television. DIRECTOR MIKK MÄGI is an Estonian animator and director. Mikk was born in 1987, in Tallinn. He started his animation studies in the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2010. He founded the animation studio BOP!.

FILM INFO Original title: Vanamehe film Genre: comedy Language: Estonian Directors: Mikk Mägi, Oskar Lehemaa Screenwriters: Mikk Mägi, Oskar Lehemaa, Peeter Ritso Cinematographer: Urmas Jõemees Animators: Egert Kesa, Olga Stalev, Triin Sarapik-Kivi, Sander Joon Production Designers: Triin Paumer, Sven-Tõnis Puskar, Anu-Laura Tuttelberg, Sander Põldsaar Editor: Oskar Lehemaa Composers: Sten-Olle Moldau, Lauri Kadalipp Sound: Tanel Kadalipp, Ekke Västrik, Anna-Maria Jams, Dimitry Natalevich, Siim Škepast Main cast: Mikk Mägi, Oskar Lehemaa, Jan Uuspõld, Indrek Ojari, Kristjan Lüüs, Märt Avandi, Mart Kukk Technique: stop-motion Producers: Erik Heinsalu, Mikk Mägi Co-producers: Tanel Tatter, Veiko Esken Produced by: BOP Animation, Apollo Film Productions Domestic premiere: September 24, 2019 Festivals: ANIMA Brussels 84 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT BOP Animation +372 5378 3028 ESTONIAN FILM






n old Cosmonaut lives the same kind of life now in his flat in a concrete panel apartment building as he did in his youth in a space station. As before, he still carries out heroic missions and misses his close relatives, who he left behind on his home planet. His close relatives see the situation altogether differently. Is this old man capable of coming to grips with the norms that apply in society? A cosmonaut will always be a cosmonaut. To the very end. DIRECTOR KASPAR JANCIS born on May 8, 1975 in Tallinn. Since childhood, he has been interested in drawing comic strips and writing stories and made his first animated film during his school years. He has been part of the creative core of several rock groups, written song lyrics and melodies. He enrolled at the Tallinn Pedagogical University in 1996. In 1997 he transferred to the Turku Arts and Media School in Finland to study anima-



Kaspar Jancis

tion under the guidance of Priit Pärn. With his films, Kaspar has won several awards including Cartoon d’Or in 2010. Filmography: Weitzenberg street (2003), Frank and Wendy (2005), Marathon (2006), The Very Last Cigarette (2007), Crocodile (2009), Villa Antropoff (2011), Piano (2015), Captain Morten and the Spider Queen (2018)

Original title: Kosmonaut Language: no dialogue Director: Kaspar Jancis Screenwriter: Kaspar Jancis Compositors: Anu Unnuk, Ere Tött Animator: Tarmo Vaarmets Production Designer: Kaspar Jancis Editor: Kaspar Jancis Composer: Kaspar Jancis Sound: Horret Kuus Technique: drawn animation Producer: Kalev Tamm Produced by: Eesti Joonisfilm Domestic premiere: November 11, 2019 Festivals: Animateka, ANIMA Brussels 12 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Eesti Joonisfilm +372 677 4228


FILM INFO Original title: Sipsik Languages: Estonian, English, Danish, Russian Directors: Meelis Arulepp, Karsten Kiilerich Screenwriters: Karsten Kiilerich, Aina Järvine Production Designer: Meelis Arulepp Animators: A Film Estonia Composers: Ewert Sundja, Liina Sumera Sound: Horret Kuus Technique: 3D animation Producer: Kristel Tõldsepp Co-producer: Anders Mastrup Produced by: A Film Estonia, A. Film Production (Denmark) Domestic premiere: February 21, 2020


uby is turning six and her life is in balance – she has an older brother Mark, who is her best friend and always has time to play with her. Then summer is over and Mark has to go back to school. He won´t have time for her sister anymore. Ruby is devastated. Mark decides to make Ruby a new companion: a doll - Raggie. In a wonderful magical moment, Raggie comes to life, at least in Ruby´s perception. Now she has eyes for her new friend only and Ruby spends all her days with Raggie. This changes the relationship between brother and sister, and causes problems in the family. Raggie feels guilty for dividing the brother and sister. He decides to leave the family hoping that this will bring the siblings back together. Not known to Raggie though, Ruby is heartbroken once again. When Mark realizes that Ruby will go through fire and ice in order to find her doll, he agrees to join her on the rescue mission. Together they manage to save Raggie and Mark finally accepts his sister´s vivid imagination. Ruby and Mark are reunited and now Ruby has two best friends in her life. DIRECTOR MEELIS ARULEPP has worked as an animator in various animation studios since 1987, he started working in A.Film Denmark in 1990 and in 1994 he co-founded the studio in Tallinn – A Film Estonia. Meelis has worked as the creative head of the studio since then. Meelis’ filmography includes over 30 feature films, where he has been directing

74 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 animator, designer, storyboarder or supervisor. Meelis has co-directed 8 short films and over 300 commercials. He is also well known book illustrator and caricaturist. DIRECTOR KARSTEN KIILERICH founded A.Film in 1988 with four other partners. Karsten Kiilerich has experience in all branches of animation, ranging from feature-films, shorts and TV-series. He has worked as an animator, scriptwriter, director, concept-developer and creative producer. In addition, Karsten Kiilerich has won several international film prizes and was nominated for an Oscar in 1999 with When Life Departs.

CONTACT A Film Estonia Kristel Tõldsepp +372 516 0399







he film, set in a Far-North industrial town in Russia, reveals the mechanism that entices human beings to voluntarily become a resource to be used by the state. Can a person ever be free in a society, where intricate and obscure structures take control of their mind-set from an early age? The film looks at the making of a Russian citizen from a fresh angle. The director’s subtle but demanding look reveals “the system” at work in the most benign-looking situations, in any moment of the everyday. What happens to people’s free will and self-determination in such conditions? DIRECTOR KSENIA OKHAPKINA graduated from St. Petersburg State University of Film and TV in 2012. Since 2014, Ksenia is working with Estonian company

Ksenia Okhapkina

Vesilind. Her first documentary produced in Vesilind - Come Back Free - won a jury special prize at IDFA 2016. Immortal, released in 2019 won the best documentary prize at Karlovy Vary. She has shown her commitment to the composition and the meaningfulness of a single frame and her ability to capture “the poetic in profane”.

Original title: Surematu Theme: social issues Language: Russian Director: Ksenia Okhapkina Screenwriter: Ksenia Okhapkina Cinematographers: Aleksandr Demjanenko, Artem Ignatov Editors: Ksenia Okhapkina, Stijn Deconinck Composers: Robert Jürjendal, Arian Levin Sound: Aleksandr Dudarev Producer: Riho Västrik Co-producer: Uldis Cekulis Produced by: Vesilind (Estonia), VFS Films (Latvia) International premiere: July 2019, Karlovy Vary IFF Festivals and awards: Karlovy Vary IFF - Grand Prix for Best Documentary, Sarajevo FF, Viennale, Astra – Best at International competition, ArtdocFest – Grand Prix, 34º Mar del Plata, IDFA, Black Nights Film Festival, The 20th Scandinavian Film Festival L.A., Trieste FF 60 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Vesilind / Riho Västrik +372 507 8067 SALES (NORTH-AMERICA) Aspect Ratio Films



A Year Full of Drama


young woman takes on an audacious human experiment while trying to find her place in the world and struggling with the past of her family. Estonia is crazy about theatre. In October 2017, there’s an announcement for a paid position to find someone who has never been to the theatre before. The task – to watch and review every Estonian theatre production of 2018. 21 year old Alissija is hired for the job. Coming from the periphery and a Russian-speaking family, she knows nothing about performing arts, actors, nor has ever been to any of the theatre houses. Putting the main character through 224 shows in 365 days, A Year Full of Drama serves as a true coming of age story, testing the human limit of consuming culture and asking whether art has the power to change a life.

DIRECTOR MARTA PULK was born in 1988 in the midst of the Estonian Singing Revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union. She earned her MA in Filmmaking from the Baltic Film and Media School. Marta’s films feature a strong visual handwriting and a relentless interest towards the human spirit and what makes us fight. Her films often spotlight a strong societal theme. Marta’s short films have screened at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Zagrebdox, Doc Buenos Aires, Bogoshorts, Queens World Film Festival among others and competed for the Silver Eye award. In 2018, her film Vida Alegre, that was shot in the Peruvian Amazon under the mentorship of Werner Herzog, was chosen for distribution by Black Factory Cinema. A Year Full of Drama is her full-length documentary feature.

FILM INFO Original title: Aasta täis draamat Theme: social issues Languages: Estonian, Russian Director: Marta Pulk Idea by: Henrik Kalmet, Paavo Piik, Cinematographer: Aivo Rannik Editor: Hendrik Mägar Composer: Jakob Juhkam Sound: Tanel Kadalipp Main Cast: Alissija-Elisabet Jevtjukova Producer: Paul Piik Produced by: Ettevaatlik Sten, Kinoteater Domestic premiere: October 24, 2019 108 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Kinoteater Paul Piik +372 5691 5665




In Bed with a Writer


he film’s protagonist Peeter is a known and recognised writer in his home country. He has published 25 books. He has received eight national awards. The people have nicknamed him the Filth Writer. Peeter does not care about recognition, he drinks, parties, and often makes statements, which upset people. As a rule, Peeter writes about his bawdy life and unhappy relationships with women. After his divorce, Peeter hasn’t written in over a year. No woman, no fights, nothing to write about. Peeter’s favourite writer and role model Bukowski did not write for seven years. In his depression, Peeter comes up with the hare-brained idea of trying different roles: he learns striptease, offers to model for a racist photographer, dabs in masochism, tries to get in bed with artists and writers,



sleeps on his parents’ graves - basically, tests the limits with all sorts of imbecilities in order to escape the numbness. The result is a unique absurdity walking the line between dark humour and tragedy, occasionally crossing it. DIRECTOR MANFRED VAINOKIVI is a documentary filmmaker with a unique signature. In 10 years, he has made both experimental as well as more traditional documentaries. His films have screened in competition at DOK Leipzig and IDFA, and earned best documentary titles at home in Estonia. Selected filmography: Long Live the Scandals (2018), Red Cabaret (2016), Family Lies (2016), Swan Lake (2015), Stealing Socialism (2014), Beggar Writers’ House (2012), Baskin (2012)

FILM INFO Original title: Kirjanikuga voodis Theme: artist’s life, portrait Language: Estonian Director: Manfred Vainokivi Screenwriters: Manfred Vainokivi, Peeter Sauter Cinematographer: Manfred Vainokivi Editor: Kersti Miilen Sound: Horret Kuus Producer: Marju Lepp Produced by: Filmivabrik World premiere: October 2019, DOK Leipzig Festivals: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 63 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Filmivabrik Marju Lepp +372 516 3641



he town of Maardu in Estonia organises an annual Ukrainianthemed festival, called ‘Sorochinsky Fair’ after the short story by Nikolai Gogol. More than 15,000 people come every year. This is the largest Ukrainian fair outside of Ukraine, and it has even been entered into the Ukrainian Book of Records. The film is structured like a work of literature, being made up of a number of interconnected stories. The full variety of the fair and beauty contest is presented from different angles and viewpoints: that of the festival organisers, the actor playing Gogol, the instructor from the local beauty school, the visitors, and the filmmaker, who puts on an improvised casting session for the contest participants. The film then culminates in the beauty contest itself. This festival presents life in all its vividness, variety, and unpredictability, with the beauty contest as its central motif. The protagonists of Gogol’s works are transported into the modern day in all their

FILM INFO Vladimir Loginov

Original title: Prazdnik Theme: social issues Language: Russian Director: Vladimir Loginov Screenwriter: Vladimir Loginov Cinematographer: Max Golomidov Editor: Vladimir Loginov Sound: Dmitry Natalevich Producers: Volia Chajkouskaya, Vladimir Loginov Produced by: Volia Films, Anthill Films Domestic premiere: Tallinn Black Nights FF 67 min / DCP / 2.35:1 / mono

enchanting absurdity, and they fit in pretty well. Efforts to preserve the symbols of national culture can sometimes lead to strange results. Prazdnik (festival) is a kaleidoscope of incidents and viewpoints, observed with engagement and curiosity.

CONTACT Volia Films Volia Chajkouskaya +372 5781 1727

DIRECTOR VLADIMIR LOGINOV was born in 1976 in Tallinn, Estonia. He graduated from the International University of Social Sciences in Sociology. Gained additional experience in TV productions, news and advertising. Vladimir’s filmography consists of both short and feature length films. Vladimir’s previous feature documentary Anthill, produced by Elina Litvinova, premiered at Visions du Réel IDFF in Switzerland, 2015. Further selections included Ji.hlava IDFF, ArtDoc Fest, Let’s Cee IFF and DocPoint Helsinki among others. ESTONIAN FILM



The Circle


he film follows a group of adults and their children who in the summer of 2014, decide to leave their customary life arrangement and start the first eco-conscious community in Estonia. Combining their savings, they buy an old manor, 3750 square meters of half-decayed buildings along with 33 hectares of agricultural land. Before them, the manor accommodated a nursing home. Five families move in – 12 adults and 6 children. Their experiment was inspired by the spreading movement of eco-communities, in order to try out, in a smaller constellation, a new life arrangement that concentrates on non-violent harmonic relationships, co-operation, nature conservancy, permaculture and small human footprint. First, you have to demolish the mainstream society model starting from nuclear family and education to general consumption.



FILM INFO The documentary by Margit Lillak follows the dramatic developments in a community in the period of five years, from honeymoon to collapse. DIRECTOR MARGIT LILLAK graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts majoring in Scenography (1999) and worked in the animation studio Multifilm after that. In 2002, she received her MA degree from Royal Holloway College majoring in Screenwriting. After that, her co-operation with production company Allfilm started. Margit has made several short documentaries, such as Beebilõust (2009), Ars Longa (2008) and Pastacas (2009). The latter was awarded Grand Prix in EstDocs film festival in Toronto (2010). In 2012, Margit made her first full length documentary 40+2 Weeks, focusing on her own pregnancy and preparations for home birth. The Circle is her second full length documentary.

Original title: Südamering Theme: environment, social issues Languages: Estonian, English Director: Margit Lillak Screenwriter: Margit Lillak Cinematographers: Mihkel Soe E.S.C., Margit Lillak, Paavo Eensalu Editors: Jaak Ollino Jr., Helis Hirve Composer: Sten Sheripov Sound: Harmo Kallaste Producer: Johanna Trass Produced by: Allfilm World premiere: October 2019, Ji.hlava International Documentary FF 94 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Allfilm Johanna Trass +372 528 4974

Fred Jüssi. The Beauty of Being


red Jüssi has built his life at the crossroads between nature and culture. He is a true philosopher of the outdoors who has given deep consideration to the fundamental questions of being human. In this day and age, there is a lot of talk about success and hard work. This

FILM INFO Original title: Fred Jüssi. Olemise ilu Theme: nature, environment, portrait Language: Estonian Director: Jaan Tootsen Screenwriter: Jaan Tootsen Cinematographer: Joosep Matjus Editor: Katri Rannastu Sound: Horret Kuus, Külli Tüli, Fred Jüssi Producer: Kristian Taska Produced by: Taska Film Domestic premiere: January 15, 2020 62 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1

Jaan Tootsen

film is about fruitful idling. It is a praise of dolce far niente. A hymn for living slowly. Meandering along nature’s secret trails, gazing at clouds passing by, for hours on end, and falling into the sweet embrace of smoke rising from a campfire, we leave the city noise and economic growth far, far behind. As Fred Jüssi puts it: sometimes you just have to be sinfully slothful, and all by yourself.

DIRECTOR JAAN TOOTSEN is an Estonian filmmaker and a radio podcast director of Night University. He has studied in the Estonian Humanitarian Institute and graduated from Tallinn University. He has won numerous prizes for his film New World, among which was the first prize for audio-visual works from the Estonian Cultural Endowment Fund, and he has also received the Young Cultural Figure Award of the Cultural Foundation of the President of Estonia. He has produced more than 600 radio shows and has directed 7 documentaries, and 2 more documentaries are in production. He is also the author-director of the series of minidocs One Story for the Estonian Public Broadcasting. Fred Jüssi. The Beauty of Being is his third feature film.

CONTACT Taska Film Kristian Taska +372 520 3000




The Tortoise and the Hare


story of a mother and son and the race against a turtle where you always lose.

DIRECTOR ÜLO PIKKOV (1976) is an internationally renowned filmmaker, producer and film scholar. Pikkov studied animation at the Turku Arts Academy in Finland and since 1996

has directed several award-winning animation films (Empty Space, Tik-Tak, Body Memory, Dialogos). He has published articles on film and written fiction books for children and adults. Pikkov is the author of Animasophy, Theoretical Writings on the Animated Film (2010). In 2018, Pikkov completed his PhD at the Estonian Academy of Arts with thesis Anti-Animation: Textures of Eastern European Animated Film.

FILM INFO Original title: Kilpkonn ja jänes Language: no dialogue Director: Ülo Pikkov Screenwriter: Ülo Pikkov Cinematographer: Ülo Pikkov Production Designer: Ülo Pikkov Animator: Raivo Möllits Editor: Ülo Pikkov Composer: Andrea Martignoni Sound: Andrea Martignoni, Michał Krajczok Technique: live action and 3D Producer: Ülo Pikkov Produced by: Silmviburlane Domestic premiere: January 29, 2020, DocPoint Tallinn 9 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Silmviburlane Ülo Pikkov +372 5648 4693




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