Estonian Film 2021/2

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Riina Sildos Cannes, Here We Come!

PRIIT PÄÄSUKE is Intrigued by the Nocturnal World INTERVIEWS REVIEWS NEWS



he summer in Estonia has started with the opening of cinemas after the pandemic. We have many domestic films awaiting their release, and our producers have been bold enough to bring films out in the summer, even though in Northern countries like Estonia it is not very common. Thankfully the Estonian films are attracting significant local audiences. In addition, we received excellent news from Cannes Film Festival - Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6, a co-production between Finland, Estonia, Germany and Russia, was selected for the Main Competition of the festival. The script was written by Estonian scriptwriters Livia Ulman and Andris Feldmanis, and the Estonian co-producer is Riina Sildos. The long journey to bring the film to fruition started almost ten years ago, and the team had the best possible outcome for their hard work. This is very first time when a partly Estonian film is competing for the Palme d’Or so we all feel very proud and honoured. You are very welcome to read more about Compartment No. 6 from the current issue of Estonian Film. German Golub, the young Estonian filmmaker whose film won the student Oscar at the beginning of the year, was selected as part of the Future Frames at Karlovy Vary. His film My Dear Corpses won the Student Oscar against competition from 1,500 other student films. Furthermore, during the pandemic, Peeter Rebane’s debut feature film, a real-life romantic thriller, Firebird, opened BFI Flare, Europe’s largest LGBTIQ+ film festival, organised by the British Film Institute (BFI) in London. The film screened in a virtual environment and therefore got a rare opportunity to be screened to a much broader audience. After this success, the film participated at Moscow’s International Film festival and went on to the festival circuit. Together with Anu Veermäe, Peeter is also part of the Producer’s Network at Cannes Marché. Interesting interviews with both of the directors - German Golub and Peeter Rebane can also be found in this magazine. This year’s Black Nights Film Festival Will Go to Cannes is a very special event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Black Nights. The festival plans to give its edition the very first boost of the year in Cannes, together with Industry@Tallinn and Baltic Event which will turn 20 this year. Congratulations to both! Last but not least, Estonian animators have decided to create a new festival, Animist, in Tallinn and its first edition will take place in August. Our animation is for sure worth its own special and independent festival to celebrate the talent we have, and therefore we trust it will be the beginning of something new and exciting. Stay tuned!

Edith Sepp, CEO of Estonian Film Institute

Content 4

NEWS Smoke Sauna Sisterhood in Production


TALENT German Golub – New Wave of Estonian Film


10 NEWS Deserted in Production 12 COVER STORY Riina Sildos. Cannes, Here We Come!

17 NEWS MEDIA in Estonia 18 DOCS Marianna Kaat about Life of Ivanna


19 DOCS Estonian-Finnish Documentary Cooperation

20 DOCS New Doc by Marta Pulk is on the Way

22 IN FOCUS Peeter Rebane 28 NEWS Animist 30 DIRECTOR Priit Pääsuke. Magic in the Night

34 NEWS Erik Stoneheart in Production


36 EVENT Happy Black Nights Birthday 40 FUNDS How to Find Money in Estonia 42 REVIEW Dawn of War 44 REVIEW Goodbye, Soviet Union 48 CLASSICS Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel 54 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: Aurelia Aasa, Filipp Kruusvall, Kristi Pärn-Valdoja (Säde), Karlo Funk Translation: Maris Karjatse, Tristan Priimägi Linguistic Editing: Paul Emmet Design & Layout: Profimeedia Printed by Reflekt Cover: Riina Sildos, photo by Viktor Koshkin, MUAH Katrin Sangla ESTONIAN FILM


Traditions and the Future



Smoke Sauna Sisterhood

The new documentary by film director Anna Hints was allocated production support by the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund – the call for proposals received 1100 film projects and only 19 were selected. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Ruudu Rahumaru, Alexandra Film




moke Sauna Sisterhood (origi­ nal title: “Savusanna sõsarad”) tells about womanhood through the ancient sauna culture unique to Southeastern Esto­ nia. In the darkness of the smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences. Through a sense of communion, women wash off the shame trapped in their bodies and replenish their strength. In the initial phase, the film was de­ veloped by another producer and produc­ tion company Kinoport; the filming was

about to start in spring 2019 when due to tragic circumstances the whole process was put on hold. “If in spring 2019, direc­ tor Anna Hints proposed that I could con­ tinue this film project that had been left without a producer, I was recovering from a burnout. The fact that the project found me was extremely special for me as a human being; the flow, motivation and energy that I got from this also passed on to my other undertakings. With no hesita­ tion I agreed to work on the project, and we dived in deep with Anna. Smoke Sau­ na Sisterhood has been an important

journey in my life that I was ready for,” says Marianne Ostrat, the producer of the film. She continues: “All my film pro­ jects have been personal in one way or another, including this one. My father’s family also comes from Southeastern Es­ tonia where the tradition of smoke sauna, that is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, has been a part of local people’s lives.” Since the film project needed addi­ tional finances, the production support from the Sundance Institute Documen­ tary Fund fulfils this purpose. 1100 film projects applied for the support and only 19 were selected. Ostrat comments: “Passing such intense competition means huge acknowledgement and pro­ vides necessary feedback to filmmakers. We realized that the film really mattered to people and it was important to get it produced. The support by Sundance In­ stitute also involves belonging to the cre­ ative community or the so-called Sun­ dance family – including international seminars and panel discussions, contacts with other filmmakers all over the world, opportunities for getting feedback on the work-in-progress, new inspiration, and most importantly – the spirit of the independent cinema of Sundance. Becoming a member of this community has actually been the most valuable for us.

Since several documentaries that have been allocated support by Sundance In­ stitute have premiered in the most signif­ icant film festivals all over the world, and later made it to the Oscar nomination, the support by Sundance places Smoke Sauna Sisterhood on the next level of vis­ ibility for us in the film industry. I truly hope that the support will help us to find the right sales agent and distributors so that the film would reach larger audienc­ es. I wish that the film would have a sim­ ilar effect on viewers as on our characters and film team – cleansing, uniting, healing, and elating. Smoke Sauna Sis­ terhood is a thor­ oughly honest

film, where the themes related to natural and primeval womanhood are discussed, thus the film should raise interest espe­ cially in female viewers, irrespective of their native language or cultural back­ ground,” states Marianne Ostrat. The film crew includes cinemato­ grapher Ants Tammik, editor Qutaiba Barhamji, and composer Edvard Egils­ son (tbc). The co-producers of the pro­ ject are Juliette Cazanave (France), Pierre Jestaz (France), Hlín Jóhannes­ dóttir (Icelandic, tbc), and Eero Talvistu † (Estonia). Production companies be­ hind the film are Alexandra Film (Esto­ nia), Kepler 22 Productions (France), and URSUS Parvus (Iceland, tbc). The film, with a budget of 275 000 euros, is to be released in spring 2022. EF

Marianne Ostrat

Director Anna Hints (on the leht) on the set of Smoke Sauna Sisterhood.




German Golub

NEW WAVE OF ESTONIAN FILM German Golub (28) won a student film Oscar for his graduation film and was elected to represent Estonia in Future Frames: Generation NEXT of the European Cinema 2021 programme, presented as part of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.


By Maria Ulfsak Photo by Virge Viertek

here, ten outstanding film students and graduates from schools throughout Europe take part in a three-day tailor-made pro­ gramme to further and ease their way into the international film scene with the sup­ port of extensive press coverage. Apart from present­ ing and discussing their films with the KVIFF audience, the young professionals also take part in an exclusive masterclass with an internationally renowned filmmak­ er, and have industry meetings with festival program­ mers, world sales agents, producers, film funders, and other important industry members. German Golub, a graduate of Baltic Film, Media and Arts School (BFM) in Tallinn, won a Student Acad­ emy Award (and a gold medal in the International Nar­ rative film category) with his 34-minute short film My Dear Corpses. It gave him an additional opportunity to compete for a short film Oscar, but the film didn’t make it to the shortlist. My Dear Corpses is practically a nobudget film - the only expense, in the director’s words, was “a lot of blood, sweat and tears, plus 3300 euros”. The events of this tragicomedy are based on the director’s own life. The protagonist is a young man


Erki (Ruuben-Joosua Palu), who has suddenly become homeless, and has to start taking care of his elderly and lonely mother (Vilma Luik). He has no other op­ tions but to accept the first job offered – as a corpse carrier. Erki’s new colleague Ott, a boozy cadaver en­ thusiast with a twisted sense of humour, is a seasoned veteran at this job. German, how has the success of My Dear Corpses and the Student Oscar win influenced your life? Have any new doors opened, or new offers arrived on the table?

The aftereffects of My Dear Corpses start gradually to appear only now. The “first wave” of the win consisted of an unusually high level of attention and, of course, a massive workload. I basically had to take a crash course in the mechanics of the global film industry, how to campaign for a short film academy award, who to speak to, and how, etc. It was (and still is) a proper studying session, for­ tunately there are a lot of people in Estonia who helped me, and for that I am very grateful. I also participated in the Golden Mentorship pro­


Photo by BFM


gram founded by the American Film Academy, where every winner was given an opportunity to have an academy member as a mentor, sharing his or her work, and life experience, and introducing the work­ ings of the cinema world. My mentor was Waldemar Kalinowski, a produc­ er and a production designer who has worked on pro­ jects like Powder, Crazy Heart and The Fast and The Furious. There have been offers too, but it all takes time and deliberation. Right now, my main goal is not to stop, and keep working – not the easiest task during the pandemic. What do you think, why has My Dear Corpses done so well, and why does it touch the audience?

I don’t think it’s possible to say exactly why it has done so well. There is no formula for “success”. Objectively speaking, I think that there are several factors that in­ fluence the success of a film, and its connectivity with the audiences. Starting from the fact that it is a very simple story that has clearly been made with the viewer’s interests in mind. During development, we made an agreement with the crew that we will concentrate on the story and use the most simple means possible to tell it, but re­ main true to the sincere story and the characters. It certainly helped, and I think it eliminated a huge com­ mon problem today – in my opinion, people are concen­ trating too much on the aesthetics of the picture, in­ stead of the meaning, when telling the story visually. The other reason was the origin country, Estonia. We often hear that our country is small, and the



Director German Golub (on the left) working with actors RuubenJoosua Palu and Erki Laur on the set of My Dear Corpses.

oppor­ tunities are scarce, but it turned out to be strength, not a weakness. As the only film from Esto­ nia, we were received as something new and exotic. It is interesting for a foreign viewer to discover, how a little European country from the Eastern Block looks, lives and thinks. And the last reason would unfortunately be the complicated global situation with the pandemic and all. The film speaks about death and life, and the Cov­ id-19 crisis reminded people that we are not immortal, and that death is a natural part of life. Dealing with this topic in a tragicomic manner, sincerely and directly, gave us a way to approach the theme from a slightly different angle than usual.

What are your expectations regarding the Future Frames programme in Karlovy Vary?

I have not participated in such programmes before, and the whole thing is very intriguing to me. Fortu­ nately, we can again leave the internet behind for a while and visit the festivals personally – it is so impor­ tant with events like this. For example, personally tak­ ing part in a workshop is much more productive and effective than a video call, because it is conducted in a special environment with a specific atmosphere. Naturally, the social aspect is crucial as well. A big part of the film industry is reliant on that, because it can be quite hard to figure the other person out through the internet. Young authors especially need to see and feel the reactions of a live audience to their films. Reactions give a good basis for further analysis too, and offer a chance to learn. I believe that all in all it represents a good oppor­ tunity to educate oneself, and to train with top Euro­ pean professionals.

For me, film is not just art, it’s an act of empathy driven by relationships from both sides of the screen. accurately as we can so that the viewer could step into the shoes of the character, even just for a moment. When we achieve that goal, the viewer understands the character and cares enough to empathize with them. In short, it is important for me to capture the humanity of the character – regardless of who he/she is – and the situation that the viewer could identify with.

What do you regard as most important in filmmaking – a good idea, perfect execution, good acting, psychological nuance? What is the central axis for you to start building the film around?

For me, film is not just art, it’s an act of empathy driv­ en by relationships from both sides of the screen. The most important aspects are the character and the journey they have to take. It all has to ring true. You naturally expect to have a good idea, technical capa­ bility, good acting, psychology and the rest, but it re­ minds me how I thought in my childhood that the characters on the TV-screen are actually real people behind a big glass pane. A bit later on I understood of course that this is not the case, and everything is con­ ditional, but after finishing my first school film, I came back to that very same idea – the characters on the screen are indeed real people with a history, habits, emotions, thoughts, and needs. And it is our goal as filmmakers to record the character and its journey as

German Golub’s My Dear Corpses has been BFM’s most successful student film ever. The film has participated at many festivals and won the gold medal at Student Academy Awards 2020 in International Narrative category.

You are also working on a feature film about Erika Salumäe, Estonian two-time Olympic winner in track bicycle racing, whose life has been relatively dramatic, but who means a lot to Estonians. Please tell us more, what kind of a project is it and how far along are you?

Our Erika is a biographical sports drama about an Olympic winner Erika Salumäe. Currently, the project is gradually moving from the scriptwriting phase to development. We are streamlining the script at the moment, specifying different details, and will be mov­ ing along the development schedule. A lot of work needs to be done still, but I can say that it will be a story about a human being, not a hero. Every nation needs its heroes, but no nation ever thinks, what does the hero need? Erika’s journey is significant to the Estonian nation. The film is inspired by her story and shows how she uses her achieve­ ments in sports to find sympathy and understanding missing in her life, and to rid herself of past sufferings. She uses her physical and emotional traumas as stim­ ulus to achieve extraordinary results in sports, track bicycle racing. As a director and one of the scriptwriters, I would love to go back in time and give the audience a chance to step into the shoes of an Olympic champion, and understand this way, who is Erika Salumäe as a hu­ man being. Do you have other films or ideas in development? What does the future bring and what are your plans in the near future?

Ideas, yes. I have developed some of them, sifting them to filter out the better bits. I will work on them more seriously when the time comes but a shortterm agenda is simple – to learn and work as much as possible. EF ESTONIAN FILM



From Deser Director Kadri Kõusaar is working on her newest film Deserted, which was shot in Jordan. The film with a budget over 1 million euros, is currently in the final stages of postproduction. The modern hostage drama is a co-production between Estonia, Finland, and Sweden.

By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Kadri Kõusaar




his is a film about an all-con­ quering love between people from completely different cultural backgrounds who find each other in the desert. It is in the desert where the soul becomes naked and what really matters comes to the surface,” describes Kadri Kõusaar. According to the main producer of Deserted, Aet Laigu, they started work­ ing on Kõusaar’s fourth film over eight years ago, and were ready to go into pro­ duction in spring 2020, when the pan­ demic stopped everything. “Set to be shot in Jordan, which went into full mili­ tary lockdown, we couldn’t do anything but wait, at the same time being in full-readiness to board the plane, when­ ever the borders opened. In reality, after every two weeks we had to re-evaluate

the situation, and finally at the end of Oc­ tober 2020 we could fly. Meanwhile, we lost about 30% of our budget. On the one hand, the six months postponement and the emergency situation caused some ex­ penses to increase, and on the other hand, we lost most of the market money. Luckily, the Estonian Government came to the rescue and provided crisis-funding for productions affected by the pandem­ ic. We’ve successfully completed the shoot, and are in the very final stages of post-production and up for international sales and festival premiere,” says the pro­ ducer. The main character of the film is a Swedish photo journalist Ingrid (Frida Westerdahl). On an assignment to the abandoned, lawless, and apocalyptic Sinai coast, she is kidnapped by a gang of Pales­

The shooting of Deserted took place in exotic Jordan. From the left: actor Ali Suliman, director Kadri Kõusaar and actress Frida Westerdahl.

rt With Love tinian men and hidden in the desert. Soon Ingrid finds herself falling in love with the most sympathetic of the abductors, Ali (Ali Suliman). Ali’s boss Moussa suspects that something is going on and becomes increasingly dangerous and violent. The script, a very personal one for Kadri Kõusaar, who has always been very interested in Middle Eastern cul­ ture, is written by the director herself with Leana Jalukse. The cinematogra­ pher of Deserted is Sten-Johan Lill, the editor is Menni Renvall, and the com­ poser is BJ Nilsen. The main production company of the project is Meteoriit OÜ, the co-producers are Charlotte Most & Maria Larsson Guerpillon from MostAl­ ice Film AB (Sweden), and Merja Ritola & Essi Haukkamaa from Greenlit Pro­ ductions OY (Finland). EF




C 12


Cannes Here We


For the first time ever, there is a film with Estonian participation in the Cannes Competition Programme. Estonians had a big part to play in the Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6 – scriptwriters, costume designers, and some other key players come from Estonia. Maria Ulfsak asked producer Riina Sildos, how Compartment No. 6 came to be, and what’s the key to its success. By Maria Ulfsak Photo by Viktor Koshkin

iina, congratulations to you and your team! How did you feel when you found out that Compartment No. 6 got selected to Cannes Main Competition? What does it mean to you, and for Estonia?

This happiness is hard to describe. Really, really, really!? Cannes Competition is the absolute pinnacle of arthouse cinema that every au­ thor aspires to. It felt especially difficult this year, because there were the best films

from two years to pick from, instead of one. Many of the filmmakers in the race were household names who will draw an audience instantly. It is no secret that the Cannes programmers have their own circle of authors, whose work is tracked constantly, and whose films are premiered there, time and time again. Our director Juho Kuosmanen has been se­ lected to different Cannes programmes with his pre­ vious films The Painting Sellers (2010), and fulllength debut The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli ESTONIAN FILM


Photo by Erlend Štaub


Mäki (2016), and won an award both times. Consider­ ing that, there seemed to be a chance… but it was still a huge and pleasant surprise. How did you meet with the director Kuosmanen and producer Jussi Rantamäki?

My films tend to have a long back story. It began in 2011 when a novel called Compartment No. 6 (original­ ly “Hytti nro 6”) by Rosa Liksöm was published in Fin­ land, and it won the Finlandia literary prize. I was standing in front of Helsinki’s Akateeminen Kirja­ kauppa bookstore with my two good friends and col­ leagues Petri Kemppinen and Jaana Puskala, and we were discussing possible Finnish-Estonian co-produc­ tion opportunities. They told me about Liksöm’s novel that had just come out, and said it could be very suita­ ble for film adaptation. We started to develop the pro­ ject from there. Jussi Rantamäki I met in 2013 in the EAVE pro­ ducers training program, where he participated with Juho Kuosmanen’s project The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki. We began talking and I introduced him the idea to make a film based on Rosa Liksöm’s novel. A lot of time went by since then, and today we have achieved the desired result.



The happy team of Compartment No. 6 - Juho Kuosmanen, Jussi Rantamäki, Natalia Drozd-Makan J-P Passi Livia Ulman, Andris Feldmanis, Riina Sildos, Sergey Kasatov.

The film is written by young talented Estonian scriptwriters Livia Ulman and Andris Feldmanis together with Juho Kuosmanen. Please tell us more about that.

We have been working together with Andris and Livia for almost a decade already, and I have nothing but praise reserved for them. We are just on the same wavelength. They are very creative and professional, well-read and cine-literate artists. When I offered them the chance to adapt the novel for Juho Kuosmanen they accepted the offer right away, and it became apparent that our visions and worldviews match with the direc­ tor and the Finnish creative team already from the first meeting. And that’s how the work started. What is Compartment No. 6 about for you? What attracted you as a producer and as a human being?

I’ve always been drawn to intimate confined space dramas, and I consider it to be one of the most difficult genres to write. Two antithetic persons are on a jour­ ney through Russia, sharing a carriage on a train. Two egos with a different social and cultural background, who start to reveal themselves step by step, layer by layer, learning to know and accept each other the way

Estonia was quite well represented in the crew – costume designer Jaanus Vahtra, makeup artist Liina Pihel, 1st AD Ralf Siig, etc. Please tell us more about the Estonian crew, their role, and contribution to the film.

The Estonian creative and technical team is very ex­ perienced with international co-productions. For us, it is a way to survive as a small country, and on the other hand it gives us the chance to educate ourselves and expand our world professionally. Ralf Siig as 1st AD is one of the pillars of Estonian film, and very much in demand in his field. He has worked on almost all of my projects. His right hand was 2nd AD Maria Kljukina. Jaanus Vahtra is a renowned costume designer, who has

Photo by Sami Kuokkanen

they are. I feel that it is a very current theme – before, we had to follow certain unwritten codes: to be better, to resemble others, to adapt to the rules, aspire to something; now, we have been flung into a vacuum, where everyone has the right to be themselves, to be special, or unique. Our protagonist Laura is also constantly on a journey, searching for herself, not knowing where she wants to end up. It’s a story about accepting yourself the way you are. The only way to be free is to acknowl­ edge life and the absurdity of other people. Juho Kuosmanen has great skill in depicting all this, with his characteristic, sensitive, profoundly hu­ mane manner, thinly veiled with self-irony.

The central character of the film is Laura, played by Finnish actress Seidi Haarla.

participated in many awarded films. For Liina Pihel, this was her first international project, but she blend­ ed in perfectly and did a great job. The team of Com­ partment No. 6 was really international, but shared a common cinematic language perfectly. The film was shot right before, and part of it even during the COVID-19 crisis in Russia, largely on the railroad. How did the shoot go, what were the biggest difficulties of shooting on location?

The shooting took place in February-March 2020 in Russia. It went without problems, and for that we have to thank our Russian co-producer CTB Film Company, one of the biggest independent production companies there. You can imagine how hard it was to deal with one of the world’s most powerful and ex­ tremely bureaucratic railroad companies. But we did

Photos by Henri Errol Vares


The Estonian crew of the film - 1st AD Ralf Siig (from the left), costume designer Jaanus Vahtra, scriptwriter Andris Feldmanis and 2nd AD Maria Kljukina.

“Everyone needs to have at least one person to believe in them, giving them an imaginary power to grasp for their dreams. For us, Riina Sildos has been that person. Since Pretenders, where she encouraged us to write a screenplay for a full-length feature, instead of a short film, she’s always supported us as writers. Another one of our collaborations, a children’s film called Eric Stoneheart will be released next year, but before that Compartment No. 6 will be premiered in Cannes. Again, it was Riina who connected us with Juho Kuosmanen and Jussi Rantamäki, with whom they had had plans for a long time to adapt Rosa Liksöm’s novel to film. We are still baffled, why did they agree to come to Tallinn from Helsinki, to meet two unknown screenwriters and trust the writing of their next film in our hands. The ability to believe in chance, and look past the most obvious choices is perhaps the most important thing in this business. Next, we will collaborate with Riina on a television series Playground. From Estonia’s point of view, it is another project where it is impossible to tread a beaten path. There is no path.” ESTONIAN FILM



What doors might the slot in the Cannes Competition open for you as filmmakers? Do you have any expectations and hopes?

The shooting of Compartment No. 6 took place mostly in Russia on the railroad.

It is hard to tell or predict. I think it’s pretty much up to everyone’s personal ambitions and abilities. We take it one day at a time, and rejoice in the moment. It’s just a big honour to be part of a film that has been selected to Cannes Main Competition. When does Compartment No. 6 reach general audience – in Estonia, Finland, and elsewhere?

Hopefully in autumn 2021, if the next virus wave won’t knock us out and shut down the cinemas again. What are your own plans for the near future? You currently have Eric Stoneheart in post-production (see page 34), but what else?

Yes, we are post-producing Ilmar Raag’s family fanta­ sy Eric Stoneheart at the moment. It is a collaboration between six countries – Estonia, Luxembourg, Ukrai­ ne, Finland, Lithuania, and Latvia – with a budget of 4 million euros. That film was tangled up in the COVID pandemic as well. Now it looks like the worst is behind us, and what we see on the screen is really elating. Next we are planning to shoot Moonika Siimets’ new feature film Black Hole, an ab­ surdist drama. Siimets’s previous film Lit­ tle Comrade was very successful at the fes­ tivals and also in box office. As Black Hole is planned as a co-production, we are in the middle of financing. The project is also par­ ticipating in this year’s Cannes Co-Produc­ tion Market. EF



Still from the Compartment No. 6

Compartment No. 6 was shot in February and March 2020 around Russia – in St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Murmansk, Teriberka, and Olenegorsk. The film’s screenwriters are Estonian duo Livia Ulman and Andris Feldmanis, and the story is based on Rosa Liksom’s novel “Hytti nro 6”. The film is a co-production between four countries. The main producer of Compartment No. 6 is Jussi Rantamäki (Aamu Filmcompany, Finland), and the co-producers are Riina Sildos (Amrion, Estonia, Natalia Drozd (CTB Film Company, Russia), and Jamila Wenske (Achtung Panda! Media GmbH, Germany). In the film, a young Finnish woman escapes an enigmatic love affair in Moscow by boarding a train to the arctic port of Murmansk. Forced to share the long ride and a tiny sleeping car with a rough Russian miner, the unexpected encounter leads the occupants of Compartment No. 6 to face the truth about their own loneliness and yearning for human connection. The leads in Compartment No. 6 are played by Seidi Haarla and Yuriy Borisov. The DOP is J-P Passi, and the production designer is Kari Kankaanpää. The Estonian crew includes the screenwriters, as well as costume designer Jaanus Vahtra, make-up designer Liina Pihel, 1AD Ralf Siig, 2AD Maria Kljukina, and Estonian line producer Anneli Savitski. Photo by Sami Kuokkanen

it. The COVID-19-related adventures could fill a book, because the epidemic was just beginning to pick up during the shoot, and nobody knew what shape it was going to take later. Near the end of the shooting period the borders were closed, and getting people back home was our biggest concern. But everything worked out fine in the end.


MEDIA IN ESTONIA Anu Ernits, representative of Creative Europe MEDIA Estonia, talks about Estonian films and the new Creative Europe Programme. By Maria Ulfsak Photo by Katigraaf Anu, please explain, what is MEDIA and your role in it? MEDIA is the European Union’s financing programme for the audio-visual sector, operating for the past 30 years. Seven years ago it was merged with the Culture programme, and Creative Europe was born. MEDIA is specifically focused on the film industry, and for that reason very user-friendly for the sector. Financial support is given to film projects in development, sales agents, and distributors of European films, film events, and festivals. Support for a variety of projects and technological innovations that endorse enterprises and business models is on the rise too. MEDIA, like many other EU programmes, is a big structure. The audio-visual landscape is rapidly developing, and constantly on the move. One of MEDIA’s bigger challenges has always been the ability to remain in an up-to-date dialogue with the European film industry and its needs. The goal is to be a trustworthy partner and co-traveller on this journey. The local representative body, MEDIA Desk, is set up in every member country, usually attached to the national film fund, but the nature of the work differs greatly, state by state, depending on the local film industry. In addition to counselling, I organize events that introduce MEDIA programme and represent the Estonian MEDIA office at European film markets and festivals. Which are the biggest and most important Estonian projects that MEDIA has been involved in? Estonia might be a small player in

Europe, but regarding the film industry we are rather ambitious and efficient for our size. While officials in Brussels would t willingly classify us by certain parameters, Estonia’s small film industry has trouble fitting into the perceived category. Capable Estonian producers and promoters of events get quite notable support from Europe, develop the local film sector, and give it international scale as well. For instance, one of the most important film markets Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event has received support since 2004, and the amount has climbed to over 100,000 euros in the past few years. The producers can apply for so-called slate funding to develop several film projects during a certain period of time. All the biggest Estonian production companies like Allfilm, Amrion, Homeless Bob Production, Nafta Films, Meteoriit, and Menufilmid have received it. The amount can be up to 200,000 euros, depending on the projects. This slate funding is generally not attainable for producers in Latvia, Lithuania, or other countries with a low production capacity – for some reason or other. Please tell us more about the new MEDIA programme. The times are intriguing because the new Creative Europe programme was just confirmed for the period 2021–2027, and a lot of it is new also for the film sector. In order to reassure producers and distributors, I have to say that the main funding schemes are still in place, but they have been modernized and made more efficient.

Anu Ernits’ task in the Estonian Film Institute is to be the intermediary between filmmakers and the officials in Brussels: to bring them closer to each other.

We see increased emphasis on a green approach concerning film production, events, and even more general matters. As a new strategy, support for news media channels has been introduced, not to curate their content but vice versa – to keep them “free”. How much support has come to Estonia through MEDIA in the past seven years? Funding support to Estonia averages about 400,000 euros annually. The EV100 special programme brought about significant changes, because more high-quality projects with higher budgets were in development – then support went to over 1 million euros The co-financing support offered by MEDIA is a vital addition to the limited means that the Estonian Film Institute and Cultural Endowment of Estonia have available for film productions. In 2014-2020, 6.5 million euros was handed out as European support to the Estonian film sector. Since the programme started in 2002, the total of financing support has been 8.6 million euros. The exact figures can be found at the Creative Europe webpage, EF ESTONIAN FILM



About Mother Filipp Kruusvall talks to Marianna Kaat, the producer of the film Life of Ivanna by Renato Borrayo Serrano.

Photo by Viktor Koshkin

E 18

Marianna Kaat


stonia has a long experience and tradition of making docu­ mentaries about native inhab­ itants of Siberia, the Samo­ yedic and the Finno-Ugric people. The former president of Estonia, Lennart Meri, and awarded director and ethnologist Liivo Niglas, have made sever­ al remarkable documentaries about that region and the fragile lifestyle. Therefore it’s natural that Estonia became a co-pro­ duction partner with Russia, Norway, and Finland to shoot an intriguing story about a 26-year-young Nenets mother of five children, Ivanna. Director Renato Bor­ rayo Serrano, who is from Guatemala, but lives in Moscow, followed the traditional

nomadic life of Ivanna and her family closely for four years through her dramat­ ic life changes, from the harsh life in the tundra to the modern life in the Siberian city of Norilsk. It’s a story about a strong woman and her dramatic choices in con­ ditions few westerners can imagine. It’s incredible how close the camera was to the main protagonist, both emotionally and physically. Renato Borrayo Serrano shows at the same time a very rough and gentle life in the Arctic region in north­ west Siberia, avoiding the clichés, and even the colonial gaze so common when shooting in such an exotic environment. Marianna, how successful was the release of Life of Ivanna during such a challenging time?

Life of Ivanna received a very positive re­ sponse from international festivals. We premiered simultaneously on two conti­ nents, in Denmark at CPH:DOX and in Canada at HotDocs. There are several festivals, Krakow Film Festival, DOK.fest

München, goEast FF, Shanghai IFF, Do­ cAviv, 5th Human Vision FF, who already confirmed the selection of our film, and we hope that some of them will be ready to go offline also. How about physical screenings in cinemas? Did you have a chance to receive any feedback from the audience?

Unfortunately, so far, all festivals were only online, and for the filmmakers, it means that we miss a very important op­ portunity to get a direct response from the audience; we can’t exchange energies with the guests or enjoy an exclusive fes­ tival atmosphere. Especially it is hard for the director who worked on this project four long years, and really needs to be re­ warded with this kind of feedback and attention. All filmmakers are desperately missing cinema screenings.

er wrote an original score for the film. Post-production was a really creative pro­ cess, especially considering that there was no sound recorder during the shooting. Our sound designer had to create a sonic world that sounds real, and strongly sup­ ports incredibly cinematic visuals. Despite quarantine restrictions, we managed to find a common working rhythm online with film director Renato Borrayo Serrano. All remote meetings with three producers from Russia, Nor­ way, and Finland were always held with mutual understanding. It is so vital in the COVID era! EF

What is Estonia’s creative contribution to this film?

We were working on the sound design. Es­ tablished Estonian composer Timo Stein­

The first session of the Ice and Fire Docs training course organized by Estonian and Finnish documentary guilds was held from May 6–8, 2021. The course consisted of three sessions where three projects from Finland and four from Estonia participated. Although the objective of the course was to meet in person, it was unavoidable to hold it on Zoom. Despite this fact, the outcome of the session was effective and educational, and we have our fingers crossed to hold the next session face-to-face in Finland, from August 16–18, 2021. The tutors are Mikael Opstrup and Jesper Osmund form Denmark; the training course is supported by the Estonian Film Institute and AVEK. In addition to the Estonian-Finnish training course Ice and Fire Docs, Estonia and Finland also have a common documentary festival,

2019 Ice and Fire Docs: rewarding training course with Jesper Osmund and Mikael Opstrup.

Photo by Aron Urb


DocPoint, held concurrently in Helsinki and Tallinn. DocPoint 2022 is branching out and starting DocPoint FINEST Market – a platform introducing new Estonian and Finnish documentaries to international professionals. DocPoint FINEST Market will be opened in collaboration with the DocPoint festival in January 2022. Pivotal times in cinema require new solutions. The carefully selected choice of the best Finnish and Estonian documentaries in progress will hopefully form an attractive platform, find new contacts, and draw attention to the next film

projects coming from both sides of the Gulf of Finland. The aim lies in promoting the international visibility and recognition of Finnish and Estonian documentaries. Films in progress, or newly completed Finnish and Estonian documentaries, will be selected and screened to industry professionals, selected experts and representatives of film festivals. More detailed info will be announced on August 10, 2021 when registering will start both for the main programme of DocPoint as well as for DocPoint to FINEST Market in the following site



Pealkiri New Doc on the Way

Filipp Kruusvall interviews director Marta Pulk. Her new international documentary film is about the isolation during the pandemic.


Photo by Sigrid Kuusk

lthough the COVID­19 crisis has shaken the whole world, there are only a few films about the epidemic itself, and its impact on humanity. It might be that Tell Me from Estonian di­ rector Marta Pulk will be one of the first poetic documentaries that show the global effect of the epidemic on such a large scale. To premiere in autumn 2021, the film tells the story of life in isolation, which people worldwide have had to experience repeat­ edly during the year. At a time when peo­ ple are feeling so much but have few out­ lets to express it, 19 filmmakers from 12 countries set up a series of voicemail box­



es around the world. People are encour­ aged to call and leave messages with anon­ ymous thoughts or feelings ­ be it stories or songs, laments, or proclamations. These calls are brought together as a unique portrait of humanity in isolation. Marta, how did the idea for this movie come to you?

As isolation was imposed worldwide, it was a situation the world had never wit­ nessed and one that I could never have imagined. Suddenly, there was so much happening, so much to fear, but no one to share it with. It reminded me of a phenom­ enon called the Wind Phone in Japan. Af­ ter the tsunami in 2011, one man set up an old phone booth in his backyard to speak to his deceased cousin. Collectively it was a time of overwhelming grief, of unexpect­ ed and insurmountable loss for hundreds of thousands of people. There was so much pain and no place to put it. Soon enough, thousands of strangers started showing up at the man’s phone booth with

a rotary phone connected to nothing. They came in silence, picked up the disconnect­ ed receiver and privately spoke to their lost loved ones while overlooking the ocean that had swallowed them. And thinking of that, I realised that sometimes all we need is a space, a silence to shelter the Other. So in these extraordinary cir­ cumstances of isolation, we created that space—the imaginary Other in the silence after the tone. To listen to people, what they were feeling and experiencing. Were they stuck alone or with their children, with violent partners, or elderly parents? Were they afraid for their lives or com­ pletely elated? Did they want to lament or just sigh? What did they need to get off their chest, and how much of it was the

same, one big human symphony that knows no limit of country, culture, politi­ cal regime, or death toll? What was the most surprising thing you discovered about these calls?

I was most surprised by how many peo­ ple turn to songs or poetry at a time of distress. When we’re under the most pressure, when we most need meaning, it became apparent that the symbolism of poetry helped people worldwide cope with their difficult situation. The production of the film was very international. How did you manage to coordinate this during such a complicated time?

Over the past year of creating Tell Me, the co­directors did not have the chance to ac­ tually meet, and therefore the process de­ manded enormous trust. That trust is based on the privilege of knowing each other beforehand. We all first met in 2018 in a Werner Herzog masterclass in the Pe­ ruvian Amazon. There we all witnessed each other creating short films in extreme

rainforest conditions under Werner’s strict and unrelenting mentorship. Having been through that together ­ one of the most intense experiences of our filmmak­ ing careers ­ created a closeness and a col­ lective unlike any other. In Tell Me, we bring all these different creative voices together into one wholesome piece. When you finally saw the film as a whole, what did you experience?

I was most surprised by the level of poet­ ry we achieved by sticking just to the rawness of the anonymous voices. It’s people speaking to people, pure and sim­ ple. It almost hides the authors because it rises above someone’s individual creative ambition. From the get­go, we wanted to search for the timeless in this situation, create a new cinematic quality that tran­ scends the journalistic or sentimental coverage of the crisis. And through so many authentic and heartfelt voices of the anonymous callers, it really works as such ­ a documentary of humanity in iso­ lation, a piece that poetically mimics the psychological stages of being torn from

your reality as you know it. It’s a manifest of solitude, wholesomeness, change, and adapting, but above all ­ it’s true and hon­ est, and you really feel it in the film. Does everyone perceive the COVID-19 crisis equally?

We are not equal, and we do not receive equal opportunities in this world. There are people more vulnerable to the crisis and the disease, both within every society and in comparison. But there is one uni­ versal component that doesn’t ask about race, sex, financial status or social securi­ ty numbers ­ that’s loneliness. People in more open and sharing cultures will come out of this in a better psychological state than the highly individualistic ones, even if the death toll is higher. And I think many people who didn’t suffer any loss will only in hindsight understand the psychosis they were operating in over the past year due to their emotional isolation and the constant state of fear created by it. We need our support systems in place, and to feel connected to the world; that’s what saves our spirits in the end. EF

COVID-19 has shaken the whole world, but there are only a few films about the pandemic’s impact on humanity. ESTONIAN FILM




Love Story Behind

the Iron Curtain

Peeter Rebane believes that it is important to tell stories that would make people understand each other better. Rebane has just recently completed his first feature film Firebird. “Mutual understanding is the key – nothing else is needed. Misunderstandings create fear, and fear makes people do terrible things.” By Kristi Pärn-Valdoja/Magazine Säde Photos by Virge Viertek and Herkki-Erich Merila


eeter Rebane’s debut feature film is based on true events, telling the story about the forbidden love between two men in a Sovi­ et military base during the Cold War era. The screenplay follows the memoirs of Russian actor Sergey Fetisov, written by Peeter Re­ bane and Tom Prior, also the starring actor of the film. To begin with – we have known each other for about twenty years. Years ago you managed your own film distribution company. Did you dream of making a film already back then?

I actually had a dream of founding a cinema back in the days of secondary school, even if this was not a conscious plan. As a twelve-year-old boy, I developed


IN FOCUS were used, and the whole film had a minimal set de­ sign – a few rooms, a small garden, forest. And yet, it is still a very good film made under a million euros. But this is rather an exception. So, yes – finding the necessary support for the film was one of the biggest obstacles. That, in turn, can be either a good or a bad thing. You are lucky when the providers of support are very smart, understand the message, and the market­ ing potential of the story. In this case, they will help you to develop your story to the extent that it will be perfect before giving you the support. The negative side can appear when the providers of support are in­ terested in low risk and search for the story that would become a box office hit – you must have famous actors, the screenplay could be ideally an adaptation of some comics. The story of my feature was different though, therefore finding the supporters took years. Finally we met people who believed in the potential of the story, and that the story could attract the atten­ tion of other people in the world.

photographs from film, and since many kids had pho­ tography as their hobby, this seemed an entirely nor­ mal thing to do. In secondary school, I made VHS mixtapes, and this I can perhaps call the beginning of my filmmaking. I continued my studies at university while focusing on setting up my own enterprise and estab­lishing financial security. On one hand, it would have been awesome to start telling stories already back then. On the other hand, I would have had so much less to say. Recently, when I read Konstantin Stanis­lavsky’s biography I realized with self-confi­ dence that Stanislavsky, too, worked as an entrepre­ neur in Russia before becoming a stage director. Ac­ tually, on second thought, directing films and managing a business have a lot in common. Both jobs require management skills and collaboration with a big team of people, logistics, and budget system. A film director’s job is not only creative and related to storytelling, but a good director must have both ex­ cellent time and budget management skills, as well as be able to direct his team towards a common vi­ sion. While talking about the budget – how difficult (or easy) was it to find financial support for your first feature?

Extremely difficult. Certainly, there are excellent films made with practically zero budget; however, a histori­ cal film such as Firebird could not to be filmed with no money. We used fighter bombers and an enormous crew – there were days when 60–70 people were in­ volved with the filming, and on other days we had 120 extras in 1970s military uniforms, as well as a base of the Soviet Air Force. With a small budget, one can perhaps film a contemporary story. To give an exam­ ple in historical films with a low budget, Son of Saul is a great film where mainly medium shots and close-ups



Stills from Firebird. The main character Sergey, played by Tom Prior (above) and Sergey and Luisa (played by Diana Pozharskaya) below.

Firebird was produced in collaboration with an international crew. What did it look like to manage all the representatives of different nations and cultures?

In my opinion, the era of nation states is about to end. Today, it is of no importance whether I am a British, an Estonian or a Russian – what matters the most is human beings with their qualities and skills. When we started with the casting, we decided immediately that we’d be based on our guts rather than on certain na­ tionalities when it came to the actors. We had the same approach when assembling the film crew. We had people from 15 different countries in our crew, in­

So nothing has really changed compared to the times your film is about?

That’s surprisingly true. Censor­ ship in the Russain media is still incredibly powerful. We had direct conversations with several jour­ nalists in Russia who confessed that they were not allowed to write a positive review about Firebird, despite the fact that they really liked the film. Some journalists clearly expressed that they won’t write anything about the film since they did not want any trouble. Fi­ nally, our PR people had to convince journalists to write at least something about Firebird, even if it’s a negative story, since people could read between the lines. cluding Iceland, Italy and the USA. It was extremely cool working with such a multinational crowd, every­ one brought their unique cultural background with them. There is a danger when you work with a mono­ cultural team, for instance with Estonians only, that everyone would understand the story exactly the same way, based on what we know, believe, and what we have been taught to since childhood. Then you take the film to a foreign audience, let’s say Italians, and they won’t understand a thing since they have grown up in an entirely different environment. Taking this into consideration, it was really great to write in col­ laboration with Tom – right away, he commented on some aspects that won’t make any sense. When I ex­ plained to him the background his reaction was, how on earth could he know about these things? Any non-Estonian viewer would probably think the same way. That is why it is very important to have diverse perspectives in filmmaking. You have screened the film already in several festivals in London and Moscow – and they say you created quite a furore with Firebird in Moscow?

Yes, things were slightly odd in Moscow. First we were really happy to take part in the festival since Firebird is based on a true story, following the biography of a Rus­ sian actor. Then it turned out that the first screening of the film created so much fuss in the festival that the rest of the screenings were cancelled. They did not in­ form us directly about this event; however, the media reflected that a group of people submitted a petition to the Attorney General in Russia, according to which the film should be banned. Some people even went to pro­ test in front of the cinema with posters. It is sad to ad­ mit that Russia is still strongly suffering from political propaganda and discrimination.

The cast of Firebird is international – Tom Prior (Sergey) is British and Oleg Zagorodnii (Roman) is Ukrainian.

In London, on the contrary, your film was received really well and several positive reviews were published?

We had an incredible time in London – Firebird was selected as the opening film of the BFI Flare Festival and the film was cordially welcomed. Additional tickets were sold twice and the reaction from the press was extremely positive. Where will be the next screening location of Firebird?

At a festival in San Francisco, in the end of June. That will be the first time when me, Tom and actor Oleg Zagordodnii (in the role of Roman) will be physically present among the audience, watching the film in the legendary Castro Theatre built in 1922. It will be amaz­ ing since the screening will take place on the same day as the Pride of San Francisco. Compared to what hap­ pened in Moscow, San Francisco will be as day to night – a place where Harvey Milk once started the revolu­ tion for equal rights in America. When will the film reach cinemas?

Firebird should reach both cinema and digital distribu­ tion in November 2021. We definitely want to see the film screened on the big screen, in cinemas. How did you discover the story of Sergey Fetisov’s (Tom Prior’s character prototype).

I learned about the story from Tiina Lokk, who met Russian film journalist and actor Sergey Lavrentyev in Berlinale film festival years ago. Lavrentyev, who by the way plays the role of a drama professor in Firebird, gave Tiina Lokk the manuscript of Fetisov’s memoirs. The role was initially for Fetisov, who unfortunately passed away before the filming. Lavrentyev was one of Fetisov’s closest friends. ESTONIAN FILM


IN FOCUS Did you have a chance to meet Fetisov?

I did. I met Sergey in Moscow, we held thorough inter­ views and gathered the smallest details that were not included in Sergey’s memoirs. We have tens of hours of recorded interviews. On the second time, I unfortu­ nately met Sergey at his funeral. It was a very compli­ cated and difficult situation for Tom – to go to the fu­ neral of the person whom you will start to embody in a film, and about whose life you have written a screen­ play. What was Sergey’s life like?

He graduated from the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS), and several theatres offered him a job, but then his mother fell very ill, so Sergey went back to his hometown of Oryol to take care of her. Fetisov stayed for several years – even after his mother’s death, he worked as a night-postman. And then it hap­ pened that a film director recognized Sergey on the street and brought him back to the world of cinema. Sergey played in more than forty Russian films, and also in an Estonian feature film Georg, where he em­ bodied Nikita Krushtshev. Several Estonians from the crew of Firebird remembered him. In this sense, the world is really a small place – it’s strange that they met the real Sergey on film location. When the Soviet Un­ ion collapsed in the 1990s, Sergey and his friends founded a theatre in Oryol that is still functioning. Sergey’s funeral service also took place there. So thea­ tre was his passion and his life. Which films and film directors have influenced you the most? Are there any Estonian ones as well?

Certainly. Foreign journalists often ask the same ques­ tion about the influences, but then the Estonian films and directors have not occurred to me. Let’s say that the legendary film classics in Estonia such as The Last Relic or Here We Are! have had a strong impact on me. As for film directors, the number one film director for me has always been Stanley Kubrick. He had this ex­ treme talent to make every film with a different style, and to find the exact right visual language for his films to convey the story the best. Both racism and homophobia are still flourishing in the world. Did you feel the need to introduce the gay community to the so-called standard audience with this film?

If the story of Firebird would take place in today’s London, there would be nothing special about it. This is a tragic story “thanks” to the dehumanised society. And yes, unfortunately there are still numerous socie­ ties where aggressive mentality still rules. Recently I read an awful story how an Iranian man decapitated his 20-year-old brother because the latter was gay. This is abnormal – that’s why it is important to tell sto­ ries to make people understand each other better. That is all we need in order to create mutual under­ standing. Misunderstandings lead to fear, and fear



So, despite the fact that Firebird has strong sociological importance, the film is clearly about the love between two people. makes people do terrible things. So, despite the fact that Firebird has strong sociological importance, the film is clearly about the love between two people. In my opinion, many gay films remain superficial – other close people to the protagonists (such as family, friends, relatives) are often left out. Many films focus only on the aspect of sexual attraction, but there is so much more in a romantic relationship. Love means caring for each other, and our purpose is to convey the story between two souls. You mentioned the concept of “gay film”. Do you think this is about to become a separate film genre?

Hopefully it won’t become a separate genre. I prefer that the representatives of today’s new generation won’t define themselves as either gay or straight. They like the human being. Maybe in fifty years, no one will understand the genre of gay film. More and more sto­ ries and films take into consideration the variety of fam­ ilies and the diversity in relationships. Can art and cinema change the way people think?

Absolutely! A lot! Art opens up human consciousness for various perspectives and experiences in order to understand other people more. For me, the pivotal moment arrived years ago in Cannes film festival. I was lucky to have a private meeting with the Dalai Lama. I could ask him two questions. The first one was how to make the world a better place. He started to laugh and said that you can only change yourself into a better person. My second question was why he was in Cannes – a glamorous place with the red carpet, etc. His an­ swer was that cinema has always been one of the most influential media outputs in the world. Film­ makers can create so much good, but also bad things in the world with their work. By coming to Cannes, his aim was to make filmmakers think about the out­ come of their work. You either create aggression, vi­ olence, hope, or understanding between people. I cannot even imagine directing a horror film, or a film where violence will be depicted because of violence. I would never do that, there is no need to add such en­ ergy to the world. EF

Peeter is following Dalai Lama’s words that you can make the world a better place by changing yourself a better person.




Priit Tender, the artistic director of Animist Tallinn, tells us about the upcoming festival. By Aurelia Aasa Photo by Virge Viertek


rand New Animation Festival in Tallinn kicks off this August for the very first time. Besides serving as an international competition, the festival will enrich the city with special events and industry meet-ups.

Priit, what kind of festival is Animist? Animist is a brand new animation festival in Estonia, focusing on animation both as a form of film and art. There has never been a separate festival for animated films in Estonia; and yet, the local field of animation has established a long tradition, it is a unique and advanced form of art. So that’s why we thought that animation needs a separate platform, namely a festival. Every year, the aim is to connect the festival with another field of life – in 2021, the festival focuses on anthropology. We are going to invite anthropologists, show them animated films and let them analyze the films from their perspective. Also, a workshop will be held in order to let animators and anthropologists collaborate.



Why is it important that animation would have its own festival? In international large-scale festivals, animation can be easily lost in the middle of a busy programme. As far as I have heard from Estonian animators, an independent animation festival has been a long-awaited event. It doesn’t have to be the largest festival in the world. Our aim is to hold a small and professional event with the potential to add something on an international scale – to develop the field of animation and introduce new trends. Where can Animist festival be located at an international level? Animist collaborates with the department of animation at the Estonian Academy of Arts, but it doesn’t mean that it is a student festival – however, the academy forms a great basis to start this festival. I

don’t see Animist as a mass event; it will rather be professional, funky and edgy. And on the other hand, we also value the collaboration with the urban space – the festival takes place in Northern Tallinn, and we wish to involve local residents in order to find new audiences for animation films.

The first festival will take place already in August 2021. The end of August is a good time – students have arrived in Tallinn before the studies start and lots of people are still on vacation. It is the people who make a festival, otherwise there are just film screenings. When filmmakers gather, discussions will arise and new ideas emerge. What about the marketing part of the festival? We are collaborating with the animation industry together with Creative Europe Desk Estonia. This year we plan to invite various producers from the Baltic States. There will be a small meet-up where ongoing projects will be introduced, as well as creative partners will be sought. What about foreign participants unable to travel to Tallinn – what are their options to take part in events and screenings? The majority of the programme will be screened on Apollo TV, and the international audience can purchase online tickets. EF




Animist Tallinn @animisttallinn



Magic in

the 30


Aurelia Aasa sat down with Priit Pääsuke to discuss his new youth comedy Kids of the Night which premieres in Estonia this summer. By Maria Ulfsak Photo by Virge Viertek

The film is written by Ewert Kiwi and Mart Raun. How did it reach you?

The producer Marianne Ostrat was looking for some­ one to direct Kids of the Night several years ago al­ ready but then we started making my first feature End of the Chain, and Kids of the Night was shelved for a while. Youth comedy scripts are pretty scarce in Esto­ nia and elsewhere. I’ve always wanted to make a youth film. The story had some unique freshness to it and it seemed to have good energy. When End of the Chain had premiered, I made a proposal to Marianne to di­ rect Kids of the Night next, and we were off. Comedy is not the most common of genres in Nordic countries and many directors rather avoid directing them. Both of your features are leaning towards comedy, especially Kids of the Night. What do you find appealing in this genre?

For me, it’s quite the opposite. At festivals, I watch comedies first. I wouldn’t say that everything has been

Photos by Liisabet Valdoja


hen his debut feature The End of the Chain premiered in Karlovy Vary, director Priit Pääsuke took us to a burger joint. This time we pass through several night-time hotspots – from a gas station to a techno club. At the centre of his new film Kids of the Night are three sis­ ters whose lives take unexpected turns in the course of one night. The film will have a domestic premiere in July 2021. Kids of the Night has three sisters in the lead, personifying different stages in life. A rebellious teen, a young lady about to start University, and a workaholic older sister who is in love with her boss. The film could indeed be inter­ preted as a story of one woman at var­ ious stages in her life, although it is not directly pointed out in the film. In my eyes, this is a universal story where gender is not even that important. All the protagonists are at a crossroads where they have to make a crucial de­ cision. And this decision is furthermore complicated by peer pressure that amplifies the confusion and contra­ diction of their inner wishes.

Kids of the Night has three sisters in the lead. Liis (Grete Konksi, above) has just graduated from high school, the eldest sister Karin (Piret Krumm, on the right) is trying to find her way in the business world and teenage Jane (Alice Siil) is still searching for herself.

done in the world of drama, but it feels like the Golden Age of this genre has passed for real. As we rely on antique Greek dramas today still, it has been said that the textbooks for making comedies from that time have maybe been lost. Seems that the so-called Mod­ ern comedy arrived many Centuries later – with Shakespeare, Molière, and others. Quoting a legend: comedy is drama’s drama. Comedy goes beyond dra­ ma and, in some way, hurts more. Right now, comedy seems to have a much wider range of possibilities. It’s been done less and presents more challenges, which makes it more interesting to direct. What is the most difficult aspect of directing a comedy?

For me, an important characteristic of a comedy is the scale of exaggeration and how far do you dare to push the limits, go overboard. Well-known comedies from the history of cinema go over the top that it’s sometimes embarrassingto watch. While directing, you have to consider how far you (and the actors) are willing to push it, and how much the material allows it to do so. End of the Chain and Kids of the Night both happen at night, be it in an empty burger joint, or a roadside gas station. Do you find the night fascinating for some reason, or is it coincidental?

I cannot comment on my subconscious choices, so I’d ESTONIAN FILM


Photo by Taavi Vaikmaa


stick with coincidence. True, the night is magic, situa­ tions seem different and there’s more room to play. It’s harder to film at night, but aesthetically you also get more in return. The nocturnal world is more intriguing to create, because you can mould the environment bet­ ter with the use of lighting. Daytime offers fewer op­ tions creatively, and the primary task is to equalize in­ stead. All in all, the Kids of the Night set had great energy at night – young people stay easily awake and contribute more. I believe that this energy shows later in the film. How much did you change the script on the set?

Photo by Andres Teiss

Most of the changes were made before the shooting period, and also in rehearsals.. I’d rather not make big changes in the script on set, because there are a hun­ dred other things to keep in mind, and that can cost highly later, in editing. On the other hand, comedy re­ lies more on the actors. You need to trust them, and I


Director Priit Pääsuke working on the set of Kids of the Night.

like to give talented actors a change to improvise in certain situations. In Kids of the Night, many support­ ing characters are born this way, and it gives more nuance to them in ways that couldn’t be put down on paper.

During the shoot of End of the Chain, a random customer came to the film set, a burger joint built especially for the occasion. What happened on the set of Kids of the Night?

Animals always present a bigger challenge. When we filmed in the gas station, a family of martens with little kits had made their home there. Marten kits are crazy daredevils and they moved around the gas station quite freely. We had to shoot a scene with a hunting dog there. At night, when the martens had already become accus­ tomed to the crew, they appeared and the situation was quite tense, because the dog’s hunting instincts kicked in. We understood that we have 1Ω2 takes left at most, because we couldn’t keep the dog still any longer, not with sausage or anything else. His hunting instinct was impossible to contain. One other time, we had to film a horse on a car bridge. The long night suddenly became morning, rush hour, and commuters were waiting in their vehi­ cles in a long queue on both sides of the bridge; that has a horse without a saddle, and carrying two young actors without any prior horse-riding experience. The horse was scared of the cars, crew and the light that blinded his eyes. There are several debutantes in the film. How did you pick the cast?

First-timers are interesting to work with, because at ESTONIAN FILM

It is a women’s story. Were there many women in the crew?

When the protagonists are female, it is more helpful to work with female crew members. On the other hand, gender is not important to me while working, and I don’t think about it at all. Everyone asks the same big questions. Obviously, some problems may differ in case of men or women, but existential worries are the same for everyone. And it goes for the film as well: it may be a story about women, but anyone can connect to it, regardless of their gender. You are listed as both the director and editor of Kids of the Night. How did you manage to connect the two roles?

Actually, I always have other editors and consultants helping me. Alone, you have more freedom, but when

The events of the film take place during one fateful night that reveals all secrets and feelings the three sisters never wanted to admit.

filling different positions, you often have to recalibrate from detail to whole, and back. It’s good to have a sec­ ond opinion on the side. Doing things by yourself, you need to complete all the levels on your own, and it takes time in my case. Ideally, you would already have forgotten shot materi­ al in the editing room altogether and start to assemble the new whole from scratch. I like searching for the editing language that is suitable for the material by myself. It’s a little bit like painting. But I need the help of my colleagues in all other matters. I have a feeling that you weave both European indie-film traditions and aspects of an audience film into your film language. How much do you consider the potential audience when making a film?

Photos by Liisabet Valdoja and Andres Teiss

least some of them are not afraid to make mistakes. They take it more like a journey, a quest. In that sense, they are easier to work with. They might make more mis­ takes than the professionals, but it seems to me that their nerves are steadier in front of the cam­ era. The more experience you have, the more creative responsi­ bility you carry. People doing something for the first time, re­ gard it a learning process and feel freer. We were looking exactly for that strong nerve in screen tests.

Making a film is a big endeavour, it is teamwork, and I wouldn’t want to make it solely for myself. Actually, you never know what the audience really expects. You try to follow your inner compass. The director, behind the camera, together with the cinematographer, is the first audience. When you are able to reflect the events back to the actors in a way that they understand, you may have the potential to succeed. EF ESTONIAN FILM



KIDS IN In-Between-World Erik Stoneheart is a children’s adventure film directed by Ilmar Raag. The film has today reached the post-production phase, despite the setbacks of the pandemic. By EFI Photos by Priit Grepp and Ann Vaida


rik Stoneheart is a complex international co­production project that is being com­ pleted in collaboration be­ tween Estonia, Luxembourg, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine. The main producer of the film is Amrion Productions from Estonia, and the exec­ utive producer of the project is Riina Sil­ dos. The script has been written by Esto­ nian scriptwriters Livia Ulman and Andris Feldmanis. According to Sildos, the post­pro­ duction process of the film is divided be­ tween four countries – mainly in Luxem­ bourg, but the sound design is created in Lithuania, and VFX production is made in Ukraine, Luxembourg, and Estonia. “The editing track is completed by now; and currently we are in the process of creating sound design and special ef­ fects. Due to the COVID­19­related re­ strictions, the whole process has been


Ilmar Raag


certainly more than complicated since all information has to be forwarded via internet, and it is difficult to make artis­ tic decisions via small computer screens. All this is considerably extending the post­production process. Hopefully we can soon travel again in order to com­ plete the film,” commented Riina Sildos. Despite the fact that filming of Erik Stoneheart took place during the com­ plicated conditions of the COVID­19 pandemic, the filmmakers and the crew succeeded without anyone falling ill. “We could complete our first filming pe­ riod in Luxembourg in November 2019, when nobody could forecast what would happen next. However, the next shoot­ ing period, initially planned to take place in April 2020, was constantly postponed. Besides, we had to frequently rearrange both schedules and filming locations – the last version of the shooting schedule was number 41 in a row,” she says. At first, the shooting was planned also in Ukraine and Lithuania, but finally this took place only in Estonia and Luxem­ bourg. “The whole period trained us to be creative and tolerant, even if at some point all this madness culminated in di­ rector Ilmar Raag’s concern for the pro­

The pirate ship was built into a yacht hangar in Tallinn.

The pandemic forced the producers of Erik Stoneheart to frequently rearrange both schedules and filming locations. Luckily they were able to make everything work and the film was shot both in Estonia and Luxembourg.

Director Ilmar Raag and young actor Herman Avandi working on the set.

ducer’s mental health. We stayed alive, with the cost of lots of new grey hair,” states Riina Sildos, half-joking. The protagonist of Erik Stoneheart is an 11-year-old boy Erik who is con­ vinced that he has a stone for a heart. That is why he doesn’t mind that his par­ ents have no time for him or that he has no real friends. When his family moves to a villa they inherited from aunt Brunhil­ da, he discovers another family living there – Maria (11) and her dad whom Erik’s parents want to kick out. When the family gets an eviction notice, Maria acti­ vates her secret plan to bring back her missing mother to save them. Together they end up on a fantastic journey to InBetween-World and Erik learns how hard it is to have a heart of stone. The protag­

onists of the film are played by Herman Avandi, Florin Gussak, Juhan Ulfsak, Laura Peterson-Aardam, Renars Kau­ pers, and Jules Werner. Executive producer Riina Sildos says Erik Stoneheart is the most compli­ cated film of her career when it comes to production. The budget reached up to 4 million euros, and the financing process lasted for almost four years. Sildos adds: “Construction of the life size pirate ship, and the sea pool in the yacht hangar, in­ stead of a professional studio, is certain­ ly a story worth telling to our grandchil­ dren. All of this was possible only thanks to our superb film crew. At some point we calculated that there were people of almost 20 different nations in the filming location, and everything worked out smoothly.” The directors of photography of Eric Stoneheart are Tuomo Hutri (Fin­ land) and Ivar Taim (Estonia), produc­ tion designer is Kari Kankaanpää (Fin­ land), costume designer is Anu Lens­­ment (Estonia), and the editor is Felix Sorger (Luxembourg). Co-delegate pro­ ducers of the film are Adrien Chef, Paul Thiltges (Paul Thiltges Distributions, Luxembourg) and co-producers Uljana Kim (Studio Uljana Kim, Lithuania), Al­

Actor Kristjan Sarv and young actress Florian Gussak on the set.

eksi Bardy (Helsinki-filmi Oy, Finland), Roberts Vinovskis (Locomotive Produc­ tions, Latvia), Vitaliy Sheremetiev (Esse Production House, Ukraine). The film is originally in Estonian, but it will be dubbed into Latvian, Finn­ ish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Luxembour­ gish, and English. The premiere of the film is planned to take place in spring 2022, after which the international dis­ tribution will start. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Happy Black Nights’ Birthday 36


By Will Smith


rom small and humble begin­ nings, the festival has grown into an essential stop on the global festival circuit, and a uniquely placed and timed op­ portunity to genuinely and naturally con­ nect with the world of film. Anniversaries are, of course, a time to reflect and remi­ nisce: thinking back to films, filmmakers, and colleagues from the past. But it’s also a time to look to the future, to another 25 years of Black Nights and the fantastic films still to come. With the film festival calendar slowly returning to something like before, after a highly unusual 2020, the organising team are preparing a raft of new initia­ tives in 2021 to mark this special occa­ sion: celebrating with friends old and new; investing in filmmakers of the fu­ ture; and exploring new ways to grow alongside the regional film industry, with a keen focus on the environmental im­ pact and sustainability of the festival. WOLVES LOOSE IN CANNES

Come November, filmmakers, journalists and industry professionals will again find themselves in the wintery wonderland of Tallinn. But, before that, PÖFF will be out meeting the world. The team have a

special programme organised together with the Cannes Film Festival and Marché du Film this July. Five interna­ tional works in progress will be present­ ed as part of Tallinn Black Nights Goes to Cannes and seven co-production projects will join them at the Marché’s Co-Pro­ duction Days meeting platform. The pro­ jects will be presented on July 10th at Palais K from 2:15 to 4:15pm, and the Co-Production Days meetings are sched­ uled for July 9th, from 9 am to 9 pm. In­ dustry@Tallinn & Baltic Event Manag­ ing Director Marge Liiske summed it up: “It’s been a tough year for many, but the business of cinema continues. We’ll be in Cannes this summer to reconnect with the world of film. As a festival and a mar­ ketplace, our central focus is how to help filmmakers navigate this new world, carefully and safely, but with a determi­ nation to continue promoting, celebrating and growing this medium we love.” In terms of Estonian pro­ jects in the Tallinn Black Nights Goes to Cannes pro­ gramme, International Works in Progress Manager Triin Tramberg picked out Asym­ metric Studio’s Pinocchio and

the Water of Life, directed by Viktor Lakisov and produced by Vsevolod Zorin, Paul Marshal, and Mark De Carlo. The other four works in progress projects presented are: Germany’s Whispers of War, directed by Florian Hoffmann, pro­ duced by Ale­xander Wadouh, and Roxa­ na Richters (Chromosom Film and Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin); Russian-French co-production Just Before, directed by Alisa Erokhina, produced by Denis Kovalevsky and Anna Shalashina (Salt Film Studio (Russia), WISH Media (Russia), Les Steppes Pro­ ductions (Fran­ce) with the support of the Russian Ministry of culture and KINO­ PRIME Foundation); Belgium’s Round Trip, directed by Dorothée Van den Berghe, produced by Bert Hamelinck, Dimitri Verbeeck, and Helena Vlogaert (Caviar); and Citizen Saint, a Geor­ gian-French-Bulgarian co-production, directed by Tinatin Kajrishvili, produced by Lasha Khalvashi, Denis Vaslin, and Boris Chouchkov (Artizm). Estonian projects in the Co-Produc­ tion Day selection include 8 Views of Lake Biwa, written and directed by Marko Raat, and produced by Ivo Felt and Dora Nedeczky (Allfilm), and Black

Photos by Lili Tölp

2021 is a very special year for Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) and for Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event too, with both passing important milestones: the youngest member of the world’s A-class festival family turns 25, and its fast-growing industry platform turns 20 this year.

The 2020 Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event was completely virtual, but BNFF itself took place physically as the cinemas in Estonia remained open til the beginning of 2021.



EVENT Hole, written and directed by Moonika Siimets, and produced by Riina Sildos (Amrion), as part of the Co­Production Days collaboration. The complete selec­ tion includes Aliya, written and directed by Dekel Berenson, produced by Marek Rozenbaum, Transfax Film Productions Ltd., AR Content, Israel, Russia; Class A, written by Cara Loftus, directed by Brian Durnin, produced by Laura McNicholas, 925 Productions, Ireland; Kevlar Soul, written by Pelle Rådström, directed by Maria Eriksson­Hecht, produced by Ron­ ny Fritsche, Zentropa Sweden, Sweden; Maria’s Silence, written and directed by Dāvis Sīmanis, produced by Gints Grūbe, Mistrus Media, Latvia; and Tasty, written and directed by Egle Vertelyte, co­written by Irena Kuneviciute, produced by Lukas Trimonis, Inscript, Lithuania. NEW WOLVES ON CAMPUS

Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event will also launch a number of new pro­ grammes and opportunities in 2021. Tal­ ent strands including the established Music Meets Film, Black Nights Stars, and Black Room will be united under a new Black Nights Discovery Campus banner. In 2022, they will grow from workshops and podium talks during the festival into a continuing online educa­ tion platform for young film profession­ als, organised in collaboration with a variety of prestigious educational part­ ners including the Baltic Film, Media and Arts School (BFM), and the Europe­ an Film Academy (EFA). New and ex­ panding programmes will include Fu­ tures to Film for producers, directors and scriptwriters and Still Meets Film for cinematographers. The festival is looking forward to a reinforced collabo­ ration with the dynamic Matthjis Wout­ er Knowl and his team from EFA, as well as with Klaus Eder from FIPRESCI. In 2021, EFA Discovery Award nominees will have a visibility boost in Tallinn, be­ fore further expanding from 2022 on­ wards to new promotional activities. Alongside this, the TV Beats pro­ gramme will include a new co­financing market for drama series, and the event will also include short film market Short Shop. This year’s programme will host the Baltic Sea Film History Conference’s 2021 edition, complementing the event’s usual line up of discussion panels, podium talks and presentations. The organisers are also working hard behind the scenes on a



In 2021, as in 2020, the festival hopes to introduce its pack of visiting filmmakers and journalists to the wolfpack’s native Estonia: partaking in some winter swimming, forest bathing and bog walking new database platform, Creative Gate, to connect regional service providers and professionals to local and international productions. Festival Director Tiina Lokk commented, “A big part of our success at Black Nights comes from the fact that we’ve grown together, hand­in­hand, with Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event. Our ed­ ucation and industry initiatives show pro­ fessionals, up­coming and established, our commitment to filmmaking in the long­ term. We understand the challenges and we’re here to support them.” PÖFF sub­festival Just Film, which focuses on children’s and youth films, has also launched a new film education pro­ gramme. PÖFF in School will give kids and their teachers, from kindergarten to high school, and throughout Estonia, the opportunity to learn about filmmaking as part of their general studies, and also to have film integrated into all subjects they study. PÖFF in School will also launch an exciting new partnership with the Euro­ pean Film Factory in Cannes. Alongside this, a Just Film scholarship will make sure their filmmaking aspirations can be transformed into practical reality. The first bursaries have already been award­ ed, and successfully completed films will join the Just Film screening programme in November. Just Film and PÖFF CEO Mikk Granström commented, “Just Film is a festival for kids and young people. We’re doing everything we can to encour­ age them to explore their creativity and get involved in the world of cinema, so launching these new programmes is something we’re really proud of, and we can’t wait to see what these young film­ makers create.” THE WOLFPACK IN ITS NATURAL HABITAT

In 2021, as in 2020, the festival hopes to introduce its pack of visiting filmmakers and journalists to the wolfpack’s native

Estonia: partaking in some winter swim­ ming, forest bathing and bog walking around the country it calls home. The fes­ tival also continues to work alongside for­ est preservation group Single.Earth to support Estonia’s forests, and will donate a portion of submission fees to the cause in 2021. PÖFF’s “Beaver Forest” in Ida­Virumaa is growing well. In other tree plans, the festival is in talks to dedi­ cate a PÖFF park in Tallinn, with com­ memorative trees for award winners and filmmaker friends. Efforts continue across the board to manage the environmental impact of the festival, with important lessons learned from the enforced digital/hybrid festival of 2020. PÖFF’s ultimate goal is to set an example for large scale cultural events on how to host truly green and sustainable events. Excess catalogue and flyer print­ ing will be reduced, environmentally friendly production will be favoured for festival merch, and the festival’s 2021 cars will all be Toyota hybrids. Both PÖFF and Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event will con­ tinue to give film professionals and press around the world the opportunity to expe­ rience the festival remotely and digitally, thanks to a continuing partnership with Festival Presenter Elisa and their Elisa Stage online platform. Film fans in Esto­ nia will be able to enjoy much of PÖFF’s programme from the comfort of their homes via the festivals’ online cinema, which also presents a curated selection of movies throughout the year. With a busy year­round schedule of screenings and sub­festivals, also includ­ ing Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival (HÕFF), tARtUFF and KinoFF, alongside PÖFF, the Oscar­qualifying PÖFF shorts and Just Film, the festival looks forward to many more years ahead, nurturing and celebrating the very best of world cinema in all its shapes and forms. EF


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-produ­ cer the maximum subsidy is € 800,000 • Subsidy of up to 70% of the budget • 50% of the subsidy must be spent in Estonia • Two application deadlines: April 27 and November 30, 2021 MINORITY CO-PRODUCTION Budget 2021: € 600,000 • 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 application deadlines: January 12 and September 14, 2021 • Decision in 40 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 per series • high-end TV-drama with a budget of at least € 200,000 per single episode; minimum local spend € 70,000 per series • post-production; minimum local spend € 30,000 Previously supported films include: Checkered Ninja (Denmark), Maria’s Paradise (Finland), Firebird (UK), Helene (Finland), Tenet (GB / US) CONTACT: Nele Paves, Film Commissioner

Photo by Robert Lang


Melchior the Apothecary

Shooting of Erna at War Photo by Andres Teiss

Photo by Karl-Andres Vaikla


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

• •

Budget 2021: € 150,000 Support intensity: up to 20% Objective: production of an audiovisual work in Tartu and Tartu County Support for the production of feature films, animations, tv-series, documentaries, short films Involvement of an Estonian production company is necessary No deadlines

Recently supported films: Omerta 6/12 (FI/EE), Erna at War (EE/DK/BE /EE), Dawn of War (EE/FI/LV/LT), Where the Heart Is (EE), Melchior the Apothecary (EE/ LV/ DE) CONTACT: Kristiina Reidolv VIRU FILM FUND Type of fund: regional, incentive / cash rebate • Budget 2021: € 100,000 • Support intensity: up to 40% • Objective: production of an audiovisual work in the Eastern region of Estonia. • Support for the production of feature films, documentaries, tv-series, music videos • No deadlines, applications are accepted from February 10 to October 31 Recently supported films: Dawn of War (EE/FI/LV/LT), Eternal Road (FI/SE/EE), Mihkel (IS/NO/EE), Mother (EE) CONTACT: Piia Tamm




FILM FUND OF ESTONIAN ISLANDS Type of fund: regional, incentive / cash rebate • Budget 2021: € 22,160 • Support intensity: According to the project • Objective: production of an audiovisual work on the islands of Saare County • Support for the production of feature films, animations, tv-series, documentaries, short films and film education • Participation of an Estonian production company is necessary • No deadlines Previously supported films: Melchior the Apothecary (EE/ LV/ DE) CONTACT: Saaremaa Development Centre +372 452 0570 / film-fund-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 % of the country is forest, making it

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

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



A World-Class

SPY FILM Dawn of War can humorou­sly be called the Estonian Tenet – in both films, there are spies as the main protagonists, scenes filmed on the same street in the middle of Tallinn, and a key scene depicting an airplane waiting for take-off on a runway.


irst and foremost, both Dawn of War and Tenet are films with enor­ mous budgets, brought to cinemas during the risky era of a practically stagnant box-office. Dawn of War is a monumental spectacle looking into our recent history – a subject that has always attracted the Estonian cinema au­ dience. Mentioning the year 1939 opens up numerous wounds; it was a pivotal year that led nations to Second World War when Molotov and Ribbentrop signed the non-ag­ gression pact between Nazi Ger­



Ink Big! The critics have done their job

many and the Soviet Union, after which Estonian territory was an­ nexed by the Soviet Union. The feature film, with impres­ sive editing, begins with the histori­ cal events known to the whole world. The opening song performed by Kadri Voorand accompanies scenes depicting inflammatory speeches by Hitler and Stalin, as well as the devastating results of the Second World War – only back­ wards (again, just like in Tenet), while referring to the much less known pre-war era. That is where we find Feliks Kangur (Priit Võige­ mast), an intelligence officer whose

Dawn of War By Andrei Liimets First published in Postimees

Photos by Karl Andres Vaikla

task is to solve the murder of his colleague, and to find a spy among his own department workers. During the first five minutes of the film, the audience is given a quick insight into Soviet Russia, Finland and Estonia; dialogue in at least five languages can be heard throughout the entire film. There are frequent flashbacks from 1939 as Kangur suffers from a love story that ended tragically. The film must have been a true challenge for the editor, who probably spent numerous sleepless nights while working on it. Although the inter­ mingling of content, characters and time might seem confusing, the editor Marion Koppel definite­ ly deserves acknowledgement for her excellent work. There is plenty that pleases the eye in Dawn of War, a collaboration between Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania with a budget of more than 2 million euros. Film art­ ist Jaagup Roomet has contributed to the film with a spectacular amount of work. He has previously been responsible for the artistic side in Margus Paju’s recent film The Sec­ ret Society of Souptown (2015), and November (2017, direct­ ed by Rai­ner Sarnet). Dawn of War had numerous filming locations, in­ cluding an authentic, colourful de­ piction of Tallinn in the 1930s: streets of the Old Town, buildings of government, the reception in Kadriorg Palace, salon parties, home interiors, and lots of interest­ ing details characteristic to the era. Among the supporters of the film one also finds the logo of the Ministry of Defence – when such a logo is attached to American films it normally means that the film represents a “correct”, safe and

patriotic historical treatment. Dawn of War also treads sensitive ground, touching subjects such as the silent surrender, the Soviet-Es­ tonian Mutual Assistance Treaty, results of the era of censorship fol­ lowing the rapid construction of the first Republic of Estonia, and the contradictory role of President Konstantin Päts in Estonian histo­ ry. However, the filmmakers have consciously kept a distance with the politics – somewhere a larger game is being played and someone is operating behind-the-scenes, out of the protagonist’s reach, while only the approaching storm clouds can be seen. A proper visual metaphor is conveyed through Fe­ liks’s glance through the window when he sees children playing hide-and-seek. A similar cat-and-mouse game takes place between the Russian and Estonian intelligence officers, agents and double agents. Writer Tiit Aleksejev started to develop the diverse screenplay that was later adjusted by Eriikka EtholénPaju and Tom Abrams from Fin­ land, with the final polish given by Olle Mirme. Despite all these ef­ forts, the characters in Dawn of War still remain quite sketchy. A considerable amount of dialogue is expressed as exposition in order to make the labyrinthian flow of events easier to follow. The actors seem to play certain types, rather than real people. Thus, numerous scenes don’t acquire the emotional depth equal to the visual richness. Dawn of War was initially planned as a series, and perhaps this would have provided the characters with more space and freedom. How­ever, the actors are good. Recently, Priit Võigemast seems to turn

Dawn of War is a collaboration between Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. The film’s budget was a bit more than 2 million euro.

Priit Võigemast who plays Feliks Kangur in Dawn of War, is one of the best actors of his generation - both in film and theatre.

everything that he touches to gold, both on the theatre stage and cine­ ma screen. The rest of the roles in Dawn of War turn out to be unfor­ tunately brief; despite talented ac­ tors Indrek Ojari, Pääru Oja, Tam­ bet Tuisk and others, there isn’t enough time for the full develop­ ment of their characters. Not to mention the almost non-­ existent female roles. Yet, there is plenty of weight and conflict in reserve: besides the tragic historical background there is the personal paranoia and burn­ out of intelligence officers, as well as the harsh destinies of innocent people who have happened into the officers’ paths. Somewhere in the maze of events and characters lies an excellent feature film, un­ dermined at the moment with fee­ ble characters and a contrived fi­ nal act. In general, Dawn of War remains true to the real events and might even serve as a successful educational film at international markets; however, it functions best as romantic fiction. Considering this genre, it is easy to forgive the deficiencies, since the filmmakers’ ambition has been remarkable – and there is plenty of quality, style and pleasure for the eye. EF




, e y b d Goo

On the Big Screen

Hello, Childhood! T SOVIEN UNIO

Aleksander Metsamärt reviews Lauri Randla’s debut feature Goodbye, Soviet Union, a story about a boy growing up.


auri Randla’s debut feature Goodbye, Sovi­ et Union manages a rare treat – a family mo­ vie that speaks equally to the small, average and big viewers. The script reflects the life of the filmmaker. We see the life of the Ingrian Finnish Tarkkinen



family unfolding during the last decade of the USSR. At the centre is the story of the family’s youngest member, Johannes (Niklas Kouz­ mitshev), as he grows up to be­ come a big boy, if not quite a man. As Johannes’ mother (Nika Savol­ ainen) is a pathological dissident and there is no coherent data

about the father, the boy is left with his grandparents (Ülle Kaljuste, Tõnu Oja). A couple of unwise moves later, the Tarkkin­ ens are forced to relocate to Tal­ linn where they manage to hustle themselves a part of a flat in Õismäe tower block district, using an old acquaintance, fittingly to the times. The acquaintance is Lidia (Jekaterina Novosjolova), a Chechen hairdresser whose daughter Vera (Elene Baratshvili)

shares an iron lung with Johannes in the maternity ward at the begin­ ning of the film. Vera’s brother Gena (Dima Bespalov) becomes Johannes’ friend and antagonist. As we mentioned, the first decade of Johannes’ life is a re­ flection of Lauri Randla’s. The first years in Sillamäe, then on­ ward to the big city, and to Fin­ land together with his mother. The author has blended his sharp experiences and childhood memo­ ries with hyperrealism and a strongly stylized visual language. The film seems to pull it off easily. On the one hand, Randla has man­ aged to evoke the essence of feel­ ing in things, sets and people. On the other, the content is presented in such an eclectic manner that it holds the viewer’s attention and

attracts with its visual style. In the best moments, the Proustian memory work is initiated, as if with a laser focus. Time to re­ member Johannes’ sneakers. When the boy’s mother gets a job in Finland, she starts bringing home gifts, inclu­ ding sneakers with blinking lights for Johannes. A fashion trend that actualized in the current millenium, is a de­ lightful visual metaphor for the feeling of foreign sneakers as such. Not that the material cul­ ture presented in the film wouldn’t be authentic. Besides set designer Jaana Jüris we should separately praise the work of the costume designer Mare Raidma. The peri­ od attire of the characters comes with sweet and comical details: thick bottle glass spectacles of the

social worker, or the hair strands used as Arab beards in (Afghan) war games. The same way we are almost forced to add “Afghan” in paren­ theses when talking about chil­ dren’s war games of that time, we couldn’t talk about the lives of the characters in the film without thinking about history. The Cher­ nobyl nuclear disaster, The Af­ ghanistan War and the collapse of the Soviet Union are in the back­ ground, but also the catalysts of the events on screen. As everything is largely presented through the eyes of a child, the film presents a layered vision of the events and the grown-up’s reaction to those events. How does an event affect a grown-up? How does a grown-up in turn affect a kid? What is the

Goodbye, Soviet Union By Aleksander Metsamärt First published in Sirp

Photos by Viktor Koshkin

As everything is largely presented through the eyes of a child, the film presents a layered vision of the events and the grown-up’s reaction to those events.




Photo by Liisabet Valdoja

static scene with the incubator is brought to life by pulsating and vi­ brant ensemble play. Regretfully, the emphasis on characters also brings along a cer­ tain disjointedness, and the film, at times, feels a bit too much like a collection of vignettes. The spaces and compositions created in the film are flashy and visually intrigu­ ing, but the geographical connec­ tion between the different sets seems to be lost. We can gather that the activities happen within the approximate five-year frame, the flow of time is not really dis­ cernible. It wouldn’t matter much if it weren’t for the fact that one of the film’s central problems is the effect of Johannes’ mother’s ab­ sence on the boy while working away in Finland, the time it takes for the wounds to heal, etc. Due to (and despite) the strong sense of style, the film comes off as a little bit too dreamy at times. It cannot be counted as a shortcoming per se, but I doubt it was the filmmak­ er’s intention. These faults do not however diminish the film’s sympathetic whole, and its heartfelt essence. Lauri Randla and his team have managed to create a film that can be recommended to everyone, even parents who have managed to shake off the kids for one night. Taking into account the director’s previous work, the short film Mau­ soleum (2016), we can rejoice that there is one more filmmaker who doesn’t treat the Soviet period like a pariah, a nightmare caricature, but a source from where you can draw material for multi-layered art. EF

Photos by Viktor Koshkin

the boys with bad haircuts, un­ ease and slight clumsiness. Dima Bespalov is strikingly good as Gena too – a remarkably faceted, profound and empathic character. The characters’ potential is exploited to the max by Elen Lot­ man, whose cinematography offers diverse compositions. She is able to invoke Robert Yeoman-style group portraits and shows great skill in orchestrating the move­ ment of the actors. The latter is especially evident in the scenes where the Singing Revolution is played out in the background. Ca­ cophonous masses reflect Jo­ hannes’ inner turmoil and offer visual delights to the viewers. They also hint at a rare proposi­ tion, how the events of the day were perceived by those who had, first and foremost, feelings of doubt and uncertainty, regarding the rebirth of free Estonia. This is just one example. We see this al­ ready in the very beginning when a



The main characters of the film, Johannes and Vera, are united already in the hospital where they share a bed in the neonatal intensive care unit.

As the structure of the film is based on the characters, a big responsi­ bility is put upon the cast who all deserve praise for their good work.

Photo by Liisabet Valdoja

child’s reaction? The pattern re­ peats throughout the movie and turns a Soviet period children’s film into a family film. As the structure is based on the characters, a big responsibili­ ty is put upon the cast. In hind­ sight, they manage well enough to form the backbone of the film. Their motivation, doubts, deci­ sions and frictions are under­ standable without too much ex­ planation. And that applies to both younger viewers and older. We should especially highlight the work of Johannes’ grandparents, played by Ülle Kaljuste and Tõnu Oja. They seem comical at first but acquire a profoundness al­ ready from the first scenes and feel like people, not characters – an achievement that should be the goal of every self-respecting thesp. The kids are worthy of ac­ colades as well. Niklas Kouzmit­ shev in the lead role of Johannes becomes the unlikely hero of all




DETECTIVE ALIEN Science fiction is something fairly rare in Estonian cinema, but that fact alone is not sufficient to explain why Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel is continuously listed among the most valuable Estonian films, casting a ghostly shadow over today’s pop culture. For example, in 2020, a graphic novel was released, based on both the original novel by the brothers Strugatsky, and the full-length feature film. By Karlo Funk Photos by Estonian Film Institute & Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia




Photo by Viktor Mentunen

Director Grigori Kromonov (on the left) and Latvian actor Uldis Pucitis as inspector Glebsky, the main protagonist of the film.


trangely enough, most of the common threads that tie a nationally important film to local culture seem to be missing here. The film is not based on a local literary classic, but the book (and also the original screenplay) has been written by the sci-fi authors Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky. The story is not about relevant moments in local history, many key roles are performed by Latvian and Lithuanian actors (although Estonian actors are prominently present too, like Jüri Järvet, Sulev Luik, Lembit Peterson and Mikk Mikiver). LESS FREEDOM FOR THE SUCCESSFUL DIRECTOR

The sci-fi film in question was released in 1979, a decade after the director Grigori Kromanov had made an im­ mensely popular swashbuckler movie set in 16th Centu­ ry Estonia, during the whirlwind of the complicated power struggles of the time. The Last Relic, screened in 1969, was the nearest a small film country could get to the dream of global recognition. The film, inspired by the French historical adventure movies, was screened in 60 countries, with 40 million spectators.1 Controversially, success brought along less free­ dom for the director, not more. Several stories devel­ oped by Kromanov himself got slowed down or stopped entirely. The Soviet studio system expected the fulfil­ ment of centrally set plans and that’s what Kromanov did, entwining into the film themes close to his own



Dresses and costumes designed by top Soviet fashion designer Zaitsev underlined the Western luxury.

heart. Diamonds for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, screened in 1975, was one of Tallinnfilm’s most expen­ sive projects. A thrilling adventure about the inner con­ flicts of 1920s Russia, a diamond heist and the spying games of the big states in Estonia, reached dozens of millions of viewers as well. In several cases, it was Kro­ manov’s sense of duty and his integrity as an artist go­ ing against the tide, which prompted the studio to en­ gage his help even when his own ideas were rejected. WEIRD GUESTS OF THE HOTEL

Integrity, restricted by simple rules, became a central idea of his final film. Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel begins with a flashback to an old case that had remained to

haunt inspector Glebsky. Years ago, he re­ ceived a call from a mountain hotel that proved to be fake. Glebsky still decided to stay for the night. In the evening, strange events start to unfold, and on top of that an avalanche blocks the roads and cuts all communications. One of the guests, Olaf, seems to have died. But that is only a small part of that other avalanche of mys­ tery that hits Glebsky’s public service orientated mind. He is surrounded by a colourful gallery of characters: traveling businessman Moses with his high society wife; a cybernetic engineer Simonet enjoying his vacation; a young couple in love who seem to have met each other not too long ago; Hinckus improving his health in the mountains. The murder mystery in a building cut off from the world soon becomes more complex. Some guests seem to have been cloned, others behave er­ ratically. Unlike in a standard whodunit, Glebsky has to solve a more thorough problem, what is happen­ ing in the first place, who are these people and, as we learn, non-people around him. The complexity of the situation unfolds quite quickly. The apparently dead Olaf turns out to be a robot for the aliens, but he had managed to strike up a close relationship with Brun, nevertheless. The girl is equally shocked because of Olaf’s conditional death, and the fact that he is an android from another civili­

zation. Two characters in this weird bunch are ex­ tra-terrestrial observers who have deemed it neces­ sary to interfere with events on Earth and protect the principles of justice. Alas, they have been exploited by terrorists. One of the terrorists is also in the hotel, fol­ lowing the orders of his boss, who wants to get rid of the aliens because of their reluctance to help him any further. The events of Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel develop rapidly, sometimes leaving the viewer as little time to react as to inspector Glebsky. The inspector has gained control of a mysterious suitcase that would allow the recharging of Olaf and Luarvik, found in the snow after the avalanche. Through these choices and unexpected

DEAD MOUNTAINEER'S HOTEL (Estonian: "Hukkunud Alpinisti" hotell, Russian: Отель "У погибшего альпиниста") is a 1979 Soviet era Estonian film directed by Grigori Kromanov (1926–1984). The film is based on the 1970 novel Dead Mountaineer's Hotel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, who also wrote the screenplay. Starring: Uldis Pucitis, Jüri Järvet, Lembit Peterson, Mikk Mikiver Music by: Sven Grünberg Cinematography: Jüri Sillart Running time: 93 minutes Country: Soviet Union Language: Estonian

The terrorist and an alien robot, two iconic roles for renowned Estonian actors Mikk Mikiver (on the left) and Sulev Luik.

turns, Glebsky’s character has a chance to reveal itself with all its symbolic limitations. In the true spirit of detective stories, he denies the supernatural explanations and is only able to see aliens as someone liable for the acts committed together with the terrorists. The terrorists are already approaching and Gleb­ sky’s principles finally lead to the demise of the guests, although the hotel manager Snewahr with Simonet help them to escape, so that the guests could leave the Earth. 1 Lavastaja Grigori Kromanov. Compiled by Irena Veisaite-Kromanova. Tallinn, 1995, p. 525.



CLASSICS Photo by Viktor Mentunen

The films luxurious charm is best relayed in the evening party scenes, where the inspector plays billiards with Olaf. The latter cannot comprehend Simonet’s figures of speech, but pockets all the balls flawlessly. Olaf’s ac­ curacy is the reflection of Glebsky’s one-dimensionally rational worldview. The direction and strength of Olaf’s strikes determine the trajectory of the balls, a New­ ton-like mechanics of ideas establishes the linear rela­ tion between cause and consequence. But Olaf’s accuracy is not admirable, and strips the game of all wonder and anticipation. The inspector’s loss transforms into a hypnotic dance scene – the film’s only pause for reflection, and a visual tour de force. The camera sometimes moves dy­ namically along with the protagonist, but stays mostly static on Glebsky’s face, reflecting his adopted rigid stance. The story improvises elegantly on various ideas like the possibility of extra-terrestrial life, guilt and identity, without fear of contradiction. Script-wise, Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel is organized and rational, vectoral and consequential, following the protocol of the detective genre. A sci-fi film is never just a story, it is also an inde­ pendent visual universe. The location, hotel, amazes with its hypermodernity. Streamlined interior design, reflec­ tive surfaces, hotel corridors and intersecting levels are in sharp contrast with the organized story. These envi­ ronments created a fantastic impression upon release, comparable to the one achieved by the narrative. The costume designer was one of the most influential Soviet fashion designers Vyacheslav Zaitsev. For the shooting, a three-storey hotel room complex was built inside Tallinn Tennis Hall, and a replica of the hotel in the Kazakhstan mountains, 2300 metres above sea level. The latter can be seen near Alma-Ata even today. These visual details carry some additional implications that could not ever fit into the confines of a script. 2 3 Lavastaja Grigori Kromanov. Compiled by Irena VeisaiteKromanova. Tallinn, 1995, p. 191. 4 5 Lavastaja Grigori Kromanov. Compiled by Irena VeisaiteKromanova. Tallinn, 1995, p. 186.



The exterior of the hotel is still standing in the mountains of Kazakhstan.

The same goes for Sven Grünberg’s music. Com­ pared to electronic passages from the likes of Kraft­ werk, or Jean-Michel Jarre, Grünberg’s soundscapes liberated from rhythm come off as notably more poet­ ic and experimental. The head official of Goskino (USSR State Committee for Cinematography in the Soviet Union), an officer of secret service was convinced that the authors were using the Soviet film to secretly conceal Pink Floyd’s music.2 But more im­ portant than testing the limits of censors, was the soundscape that Kromanov wished to bring to the film. The music was supposed to carry those threads of thought that were impossible to depict in pictures and words – the transcendent atmosphere of the mu­ sic hinted at the possibilities of the future.3 The cinemato­ grapher of the film Jüri Sillart (in the middle) working on the set.


For the audience, this was a journey to the beyond, in more than one way. Depictions of the West found their way to Soviet cinema primarily through science-fiction. Although the conquest of space was an important mo­

Photo by Viktor Mentunen


Scene of ecstatic dancing stands out in films rational train of thought.

tive in Soviet ideology, it was usually done by immacu­ late heroes, whose image couldn’t harbour any doubt or human dilemmas. More complex, multidimensional characters were not welcome on the screen, and could operate believably only in a foreign environment. The depiction of the West was tolerable as long as the characters conveyed Western vices, doubts and mis­ takes. The luxurious hotel and the terrorists fit that canon. Glebsky’s limited public servant though, was exactly the kind of figure with double meaning to earn the Strugatsky Brothers the notorious image of dissi­ dents later. A guardian of the law who interprets the rules in the most limited manner possible was a very Soviet figure, but in this film here, his restraint was justified with the fact that he operated in the ambigu­ ous West and therefore represented the blind follow­ ing of the rules of others, not “ours”. Besides the science fiction genre and visual zeit­ geist, an extra dimension was added to the film by the mountains and nature. It is a transition zone between our civilization and the supernatural, as indicated by the word “dead” in the title of the film. Upon Glebsky’s arrival at the hotel, owner Snewahr introduces him to the legend of the dead mountaineer first thing, telling the story of how the hotel got its name. Later, the mountaineer makes a sinister appearance in Glebsky’s dream. The films uni­ verse stands dangerously close to nature and death. Mountains, their irrationality stressed even further by the music, frame this luxurious island of civilization, belonging to the realm of the unexplainable. THE LAYERS IN THE SCRIPT

The escape of aliens leads to final standoff with the terrorists.

The text of Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel was an experi­ ment for the Strugatsky brothers. They had written science fiction that had also been adapted for screen, like Stalker - but Arkadi had a high regard for crime stories, Rex Stout, Hammet, le Carré.4 In Dead Moun­ taineer’s Hotel, they tried to refresh the detective sto­ ry, using extra-terrestrial forces instead of the usual solution. As screenwriters, they developed the story to­ gether with the director Kromanov. The film main­

tains the scripts experimentality, outlining the themes important to the director more clearly. This is all placed in an aesthetically innovative environment, reflecting our idea of Western luxury and lifestyle. Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel still astounds with its cha­ otic but also functional way of uniting storylines, ide­ as and connotations, giving off a vibe of liberated and unstoppable energy. In the final scenes of the film, science fiction trans­ forms into a documentary perspective when the pro­ tagonist addresses the viewer directly. Justifying his choices, Glebsky appeals to irrevocable logic, but his need to justify himself as a protagonist becomes appar­ ent in the process. Glebsky understands that the clari­ ty of his choices actually leads to emptiness, closure and a waste of a unique opportunity, much like Olaf’s perfect strikes extinguished the playfulness of the game of billiards in the first part of the film. “And what business do I have with those non-humans disguised as humans,” the inspector finishes his monologue. When Newton-like physics of cause and consequence are set against the supernatural, it only works when it reduces the multi-layered processes to simple signals. This was a strong statement in a country that constructed itself on a model of progress based on scientific and techno­ logical innovation. Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel has remained a mys­ tery between the domains of national film classics and genre entertainment. Like guests in the film, it’s some­ thing alien that has assumed a familiar shape, and we do not know exactly what it wants from us. Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel was Kromanov’s final film. Although the film won recognition abroad, in Tri­ este, he couldn’t accomplish his ideas in Tallinnfilm, and he alternated his time between theatre and cine­ ma, his life between Tallinn and Vilnius. Coming from a Russian cultural background of pre-war Estonia, he embodied something other and elusive himself. “He lived in a somewhat different time-space from the oth­ ers, he didn’t completely fit into the cultural picture of our republic, and had an alienating, not quite compre­ hensible effect,”5 said the film’s producer (then direc­ tor) Raimund Felt when Kromanov passed away. EF







irebird is a touching love story set in the Soviet Air Force during the Cold War. Sergey, a troubled young private, is counting the days till his military service ends. His life is turned upside down when a daring fighter pilot, Roman arrives at the base. Driven by curiosity, Sergey and Roman navigate the precarious line between love and friendship as a dangerous love triangle forms between them and Luisa, the secretary to the base Commander. Sergey is forced to face his past as Roman’s career is endangered and Luisa struggles to keep her family together. As the walls close in, they risk their freedom and their lives in the face of an escalating KGB investigation and the fear of the all-seeing Soviet regime. Based on a true story.

DIRECTOR PEETER REBANE Peeter’s directing portfolio includes feature films Firebird (2021), Sailing to Freedom (in development), documentaries Tashi Delek! (2015) and Robbie Williams: Fans Journey to Tallinn (BBC World-

Peeter Rebane

wide, 2014) and numerous music videos including Moby’s “Wait for Me” and Pet Shop Boys’ “Together.” He has been a jury member at various film festivals including Black Nights Film Festival and Cape Town International Film Festival. He graduated from Harvard cum laude in economics, psychology and visual arts. After a career as a producer, he went on to study directing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and at Judith Weston’s studio. He has a passion for telling local human stories with a universal resonance.

Original title: Firebird Genre: drama Language: English Director: Peeter Rebane Screenwriters: Peeter Rebane, Tom Prior Cinematographer: Mait Mäekivi E.S.C. Production Designers: Eva-Maria Gramakovski, Kalju Kivi, Frantseska Vakkum Editor: Tambet Tasuja Composer: Krzysztof A. Janczak Sound: Matis Rei Main cast: Tom Prior, Oleg Zagorodnii, Diana Pozharskaya, Margus Prangel, Nicholas Woodeson, Jake Henderson Producers: Brigita Rozenbrika, Peeter Rebane, Tom Prior Co-producers: Dankuro Shinma, William Randall-Coath Produced by: The Factory (EE/UK/US), No Reservations Entertainment (UK), Firebird Productions (UK) World premiere: March 2021, BFI Flare Festivals: Moscow IFF, Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film 107 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT The Factory Dankuro Shinma +44 (0) 778 987 4163



Compartment No. 6


young Finnish woman escapes an enigmatic love affair in Moscow by boarding a train to the arctic port of Murmansk. Forced to share the long ride and a tiny sleeping car with a rough Russian miner, the unexpected encounter leads the occupants of Compartment no. 6 to face the truth about their own loneliness and yearning for human connection.

DIRECTOR JUHO KUOSMANEN is a Finnish film director. His first feature film, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (2016) won the Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes, the EFA Discovery Award, the Golden Eye at Zurich and a Gold Hugo for Best New Director at Chicago. His medium-length film The Painting Sellers (2010) won the Cinefon-

Juho Kuosmanen

dation Award at Cannes, and his short film Citizens (2008) won a Silver Leopard at Locarno. He has also directed silent films for a live orchestra and avant-garde operas.

FILM INFO Original title: Hytti nro 6 / Kupee nr 6 Genre: drama Language: Russian Director: Juho Kuosmanen Screenwriters: Andris Feldmanis, Livia Ulman with Juho Kuosmanen (based on the novel Compartment No. 6 by Rosa Liksom) Cinematographer: J-P Passi F.S.C. Production Designer: Kari Kankaanpää Editor: Jussi Rautaniemi Sound: Pietu Korhonen Main cast: Seidi Haarla, Yuriy Borisov, Julia Aug, Dinara Drukarova Producer: Jussi Rantamäki Co-producers: Riina Sildos, Natalya Drozd-Makan, Sergey Selyanov, Jamila Wenske Produced by: CTB Film Company (RU), Aamu Film Company (FI), Amrion (EE), Achtung Panda! (DE) World premiere: Cannes Film Festival – in Competition 105 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Amrion Riina Sildos +372 504 8985 SALES Totem Films ESTONIAN FILM



FILM INFO Original title: Öölapsed Genre: youth comedy Language: Estonian Director: Priit Pääsuke Screenwriters: Ewert Kiwi, Mart Raun Cinematographer: Mart Raun Production Designer: Kadri Kuusler Editor: Priit Pääsuke Composer: Janek Murd Sound Designer: Harmo Kallaste Main cast: Grete Konksi, Piret Krumm, Alice Siil Producer: Marianne Ostrat Produced by: Alexandra Film Domestic premiere: 9 July, 2021

Kids of the Night


hree sisters – Liis, Karin and Jane – have all reached a different breaking point in their lives. Liis has just graduated from high school and finds out that her planned future with her boyfriend may not be as certain as she thought. Older sister Karin, the first victim of their parents’ expectations, is trying to survive in a modern sexist business environment. The youngest of the sisters, teenager Jane, is trying to stand up to her party-loving friend’s pressure to be someone she is not. One fateful night reveals all the secrets and feelings these three have never dared to admit.

DIRECTOR PRIIT PÄÄSUKE premiered his short fiction Black Peter at the 38th Tampere Film Festival in 2008 and won 11 prizes from 22 festivals across the world. In 2015, he premiered his feature length documentary debut Impromptu. Priit’s fiction feature debut The End of The Chain premiered at the Karlovy Vary IFF – East of the West competition programme in 2017. In October 2019, his second feature documentary Tõnis Mägi: Silence in Light premiered. Kids of the Night is Priit’s second feature film.



101 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1

Priit Pääsuke

CONTACT Alexandra Film Marianne Ostrat +372 523 3577




hildren are left to grandma’s without smartphones. Real life seems boring, working feels hard. Luckily, they find instructions for kratt – a magical creature from old Estonian mythology who will do whatever its master says. All they have to do now, is to buy a soul from the devil! Life stops being boring in a bloody way. DIRECTOR RASMUS MERIVOO is one of the most unique Estonian filmmakers in recent times. His film school short Alien – Saving Valdis In 11 Chapters

Peeter Rasmus Simm Merivoo

became an instant cult classic because of its bold and original storytelling. After shooting a debut feature Buratino in Russia he moved onto TV to direct a season of popular horror series Süvahavva. In Kratt, his second feature, Rasmus is returning back to his roots – writing and directing.

Original title: Kratt Genre: comedy, fantasy Language: Estonian Director: Rasmus Merivoo Screenwriter: Rasmus Merivoo Cinematographer: Jako Krull Production Designer: Krete Tarkmees Editors: Rasmus Merivoo, Kristin Kalamees Composer: Tauno Aints Sound: Jevgeni Berežovski,Tanel Roovik Main cast: Mari Lill, Ivo Uukkivi, Jan Uuspõld, Nora Merivoo, Harri Merivoo, Paul Purga, Marek Tammets, Mari-Liis Lill, Alo Kurvits Producers: Rain Rannu, Tõnu Hiielaid Produced by: Tallifornia Premiere: November 2020, Youth and Children’s Film Festival Just Film Awards: Youth Jury special mention at Youth and Children’s Film Festival Just Film Festivals: Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, Fantasia IFF 105 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Tallifornia / Tõnu Hiielaid +372 5336 6981 SALES Media Mooove / Justyna Koronkiewicz +48 535 547 355 ESTONIAN FILM



Sandra Gets a Job


andra Gets a Job is a psychological drama about a young Doctor of Physics, Sandra, who unexpectedly loses her job in a research group. Getting a new job seems simple at first glance, but after a few failures Sandra feels herself ever more clearly as unemployed. Every new attempt to find a job is increasingly humiliating. In addition, she must hide her failure, at least from her successful parents who also work in the world of science. DIRECTOR KAUPO KRUUSIAUK graduated from Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School as a film director. He also studied at FAMU in Prague and has a stage director diploma from

FILM INFO Kaupo Kruusiauk

Estonian Theatre and Music Academy. Kaupo has previously directed numerous short and documentary films. His debut feature film Sandra Gets a Job premieres in 2021. Kruusiauk currently also gives film lectures in Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication school.

Original title: Sandra saab tööd Genre: drama Language: Estonian Director: Kaupo Kruusiauk Screenwriter: Kaupo Kruusiauk Cinematographer: Sten-Johan Lill E.S.C. Production Designer: Tiiu-Ann Pello Editor: Kaie-Ene Rääk Composer: Kali Briis Sound: Horret Kuus Main cast: Mari Abel, Alo Kõrve, Raimo Pass, Kaie Mihkelson, Henrik Kalmet Producer: Anneli Ahven Produced by: Kopli Kinokompanii To be released: Autumn 2021 96 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / Dolby SR CONTACT Kopli Kinokompanii Anneli Ahven +372 5562 2041




On the Water


n the Water, based on Olavi Ruitlane’s book of the same title, focuses on the life of a preadolescent boy Andres. He is a gentle soul growing up in the care of his grandparents in small-town Soviet

Original title: Vee peal Genre: drama, comedy Language: Estonian Director: Peeter Simm Screenwriter: Olavi Ruitlane Cinematographer: Manfred Vainokivi Production Designer: Eugen Tamberg Editor: Kersti Miilen Sound: Horret Kuus, Henri Kuus Main cast: Rasmus Ermel, Marko Matvere, Aarne Soro Producer: Marju Lepp Co-producer: Manfred Vainokivi Produced by: Filmivabrik Premiere: November 2020, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 106 min / DCP / 16: 9 / 5.1

Peeter Simm

awards at international festivals and also national awards. He has also directed several short films, documentaries and theatre plays.

CONTACT Filmivabrik Marju Lepp +372 516 3641

Estonia. There are no peers, and his knowledge and friendships are limited to a few men living in his backyard – a former prisoner and two hapless fishermen. His only chance of escape from his grandfather’s strict demands is taking a fishing rod out on the local lake. On the Water is a bit of a brutal tale hidden beneath a comic and adventurous surface that highlights people’s basic needs for understanding, caring, humanity, and love. DIRECTOR PEETER SIMM graduated from VGIK (Moscow State Institute of Cinematography) in 1976. He has directed nine feature films, has won ESTONIAN FILM



My Dear Corpses


nexpectedly evicted from his house, Erki faces a rather difficult task to take care of his lonely mother. He is forced to agree to become a corpse carrier. But the situation is about to get a whole lot worse, when Erki meets his new colleague for whom it is just another day in the field.

DIRECTOR GERMAN GOLUB was born in 1993 in Pärnu, Estonia. He graduated from Tallinn Polytechnic School in 2015 as a television camera operator and from Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School in 2020 with cum laude as a film director. Aside from studies, German has been freelancing for Estonian Public Broadcasting, various Estonian production companies and foreign productions, including Tenet. His filmography to date consists of several student short

German Golub

films including Sealed (2019) that was filmed in China, Black and White Colours (2019) and My Dear Corpses (2020) which won the Student Academy Award in the category of International Narrative Short Film.

FILM INFO Original title: Mu kallid laibad Genre: tragicomedy, graduation film Languages: Estonian, Russian Director: German Golub Screenwriter: German Golub Cinematographer: Juss Saska Production Designer: Kätlin Loomets Editor: Kaupo Muuli Sound: Siim Škepast Main cast: Ruuben Joosua Palu, Erki Laur Producers: Sander Lebreht, Antero Noor Produced by: Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School (BFM) Premiere: November 2020, PÖFF Shorts Awards: Student Academy Award in the category of International Narrative Short Film 34 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Sander Lebreht +372 5330 5434



Life of Ivanna


vanna, a 26-year-old mother of five children, is living in the Arctic region in northwest Siberia. She lives a traditional nomadic life, driving her herd of reindeer at the tundra as her family did for centuries. But due to the environmental side effects of climate change most of her reindeers are dying and she knows that she will soon be ruined and forced to make a dramatic decision. Her husband, Gena, has already left the family. He moved to the city, hoping to find a job as an oil worker in the Russian oil fields but didn’t succeed and spends his time drinking and fighting. Ivanna is willing to give her marriage a last chance. She will give up her traditional life, leave the tundra, move to the city, and get a job at Gazprom. But time has changed, Gena became violent and alcoholic and Ivanna realizes that the civilized city life is not what she expected.

But there is no way back, Ivanna will have to take life into her own hands and secure a future for her and her five children. The film follows Ivanna and her family closely for four years through her dramatic life-changes, from the harsh life at the tundra to the modern life in the Siberian city of Norilsk.

Renato Borrayo Serrano

DIRECTOR RENATO BORRAYO SERRANO was born in Guatemala in 1992. He graduated from documentary directing at the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK). He has directed several films that were shown at many international film festivals. His latest film Film for Carlos received Honorary Jury mention at DokLeipzig 2017 and the prize for Best Short Film at Docudays UA 2018.

FILM INFO Original title: Жизнь Иванны / Ivanna elu Theme: social issues, environment, family Languages: Russian, Nenets Director: Renato Borrayo Serrano Screenwriter: Renato Borrayo Serrano Cinematographer: Renato Borrayo Serrano Editors: Renato Borrayo Serrano, Inge-Lise Langfeldt Composer: Timo Steiner Sound: Israel Bañuelos Producer: Vladislav Ketkovich Co-producers: Marianna Kaat, Mette Cheng Munthe-Kaas, Pertti Veijalainen Produced by: Ethnofund Film Company (RU), Baltic Film Production (EE), Ten Thousand Images (NO), Illume (FI) World premiere: co-presented by CPH:DOX 2021 & Hot Docs 2021 Festivals: Krakow FF, DOK.fest München, goEast FF, Shanghai IFF, DocAviv, 5th Human Vision FF, El Gouna Film Festival 77 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1

CONTACT Baltic Film Production Marianna Kaat +372 502 7509 SALES CAT&Docs




Tell Me



n the first days of worldwide lockdowns, filmmakers from 15 countries set up phone lines for people to leave anonymous messages from their confinement. Starting from the very beginning when the Chinese had not yet determined the origin of the virus, to the Brazilians demanding quarantine from their leaders months later; Tell Me combines hundreds of voices from around the world, into a poetic documentary. It is a whirlwind of emotions crossing all boundaries of culture and nationality by fresh directors from around the world. A true experiment of cinema, Tell Me serves the viewer a portrait of humanity in isolation by creating a space after the tone, a void where people could leave anything they wished to be free of, crystalizing a moment in time the whole world experienced together. DIRECTOR MARTA PULK was the leading director and author of the idea. She was born in 1988 in the midst of the Estonian Singing Revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union. Her films feature



Marta Pulk

a strong visual handwriting and relentless interest towards the human spirit and what makes us fight. Her films often spotlight a sharp societal theme and combine together the robust and the poetic. Working in both documentary and fiction, Marta’s films have travelled the festival circuit, with her latest A Year Full of Drama selected for Sydney International Film Festival, Docs Against Gravity, BAFICI and many others. In Tell Me, she works as a lead director, connecting all co-directors’ work into one poetic narrative. The network of co-directors met during a Werner Herzog workshop in 2018, and hail from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Kosovo, Peru, Turkey, UK, and USA.

Original title: Räägi ära Theme: social issues, mental health, pandemic Languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Albanian, Estonian, Mandarin, German Director: Marta Pulk Cinematographers: Aivo Rannik, Agustin Barrutia et al. Editor: Jaak Ollino Composer: Chihei Hatakeyama Sound: Gabriel Solis Producers: Karolina Veetamm, Tanya Marar Co-producer: Marta Pulk Produced by: Kafka Films (EE), Ettevaatlik Sten (EE), SomeNobody productions (JO) To be released: Autumn 2021 75 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Karolina Veetamm +372 5196 8064

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


T U C 30% cash rebate on local expenses


Payment in 40 days directly to a foreign account Competitive rates for world class film professionals


All locations within a 3 hour drive


Articles inside

NEW FILMS The overview of the latest Estonian films article cover image

NEW FILMS The overview of the latest Estonian films

pages 54-64
FUNDS How to Find Money in Estonia article cover image

FUNDS How to Find Money in Estonia

pages 40-41
CLASSICS Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel article cover image

CLASSICS Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel

pages 48-53
REVIEW Dawn of War article cover image

REVIEW Dawn of War

pages 42-43
EVENT Happy Black Nights Birthday article cover image

EVENT Happy Black Nights Birthday

pages 36-39
DIRECTOR Priit Pääsuke article cover image

DIRECTOR Priit Pääsuke

pages 30-33
NEWS Erik Stoneheart in Production article cover image

NEWS Erik Stoneheart in Production

pages 34-35
NEWS Animist article cover image

NEWS Animist

pages 28-29
DOCS Marianna Kaat article cover image

DOCS Marianna Kaat

page 18
NEWS Deserted in Production article cover image

NEWS Deserted in Production

pages 10-11
TALENT German Golub article cover image

TALENT German Golub

pages 6-9
DOCS New Doc by Marta Pulk is on the Way article cover image

DOCS New Doc by Marta Pulk is on the Way

pages 20-21
IN FOCUS Peeter Rebane article cover image

IN FOCUS Peeter Rebane

pages 22-27
NEWS MEDIA in Estonia article cover image

NEWS MEDIA in Estonia

page 17
DOCS Estonian-Finnish Documentary Cooperation article cover image

DOCS Estonian-Finnish Documentary Cooperation

page 19
NEWS Smoke Sauna Sisterhood article cover image

NEWS Smoke Sauna Sisterhood

pages 4-5
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