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A M A G A Z I N E F R O M T H E E S TO N I A N F I L M I N S T I T U T E

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NEWS INTERVIEWS REVIEWS

The Bank

Power, Money & People

Moonika Siimets

The Little Comrade: Debut Film & Energy Shared

Rea Lest

Not Afraid of Challenges FEATURED FILMS: The Little Comrade The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow Class Reunion 2 I The End of the Chain I Green Cats


FOREWORD

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he year 2018 is a landmark year for Estonian film. The state has never before invested so much in Estonian film in such a short period. This is a year for outcomes and for grand celebrations! Precisely five years ago the Ministry of Culture created a plan to celebrate the centenary of the Estonian Republic in style. The plan also included producing films to celebrate our big anniversary. Now, five features, one children’s feature animation, two documentaries, and even one high-end TV-drama series are all in production or post-production. Estonia will start releasing the centenary films in March 2018 with the period-drama The Little Comrade by Moonika Siimets - the director and the film you can read about more in the cover story of this issue of Estonian Film. The interest among Estonian domestic audiences in local films is stable. In 2015 and in 2016 it was 10%, in 2017 8% of total market share. The market shows signs of consistency, which is always the hardest thing to achieve, since it is not Estonian Film Institute’s primary purpose. Our prime purpose is to support local talent. The repertoire of our films is diverse, especially if we look at 2017, when films like Rainer Sarnet’s November or Chintis Lundgren’s Manivald showed great success at international festivals. November was also one of our biggest box office hits and had almost 50 000 admissions, but audiences also enjoyed Jaak Kilmi’s comedy The Dissidents that brought over 85 000 people to the cinemas in Estonia. Furthermore, documentary films like Terje Toomistus’s Soviet Hippies and Sandra Jõgeva’s Love… were also well-received in the cinemas. Estonia made successful co-production projects with Finland (The Eternal Road), with Iceland (The Swan), and with Georgia (The Confession). Minority co-productions are an important part of our local film landscape. The Eternal Road was the very first cash-rebate project that brought in great benefits for the entire Estonian economy. In addition, Estonia has films on the market without state-support – these are not one-off random projects, but a trend, set by distributors and cinema chains, as 2017 has shown us. Today, we make more films than ever before. In total, 3.5 million people went to the cinema in Estonia and box-office takings totalled 19.3 million EUR. Admissions per capita is 2.67. This is a good result, especially in light of the Estonian Republic 100 films in the pipeline. Apart from new releases, this year, due to our special year of celebrations, Estonian Film Institute has many focus programmes at various film festivals around Europe. Watch out for Estonian film in 2018!

Edith Sepp Estonian Film Institute CEO

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NEWS It’s Already Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm

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NEWS Fire Lily Production Finished

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NEWS Mart Taniel Nominated for Spotlight Award for November

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NEWS The Virgin Maali & the Cultural Endowment Annual Awards

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NEWS Edith Sepp Continues as CEO of EFI. Film Critics’ Association Has a New Chairman

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10 COVER STORY Moonika Siimets A Child in History 16 NEWS Manivald at Festivals 17

NEWS Class Reunion 2: A Wedding and a Funeral

18 TALENT Starring Rea Lest

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22 SHORTS Estonian Shorts in 2018 24 IN FOCUS TV-series The Bank Power, Money & People 30

DOCS Estonian Docs in 2018

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REVIEW The End of the Chain

34 REVIEW The Eternal Road 36

REVIEW Green Cats

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REVIEW The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow

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NEWS Statistics 2017

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NEWS 2017 Festival Highlights

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NEW FILMS The overview of the latest Estonian films

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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: film@filmi.ee I filmi.ee Editor in Chief: Eda Koppel Contributing Editor: Maria Ulfsak (Eesti Ekspress) Contributors: Sigrid Saag, Johnnes Lõhmus, Kaarel Kuurmaa Translation: Lili Pilt Linguistic Editing: David Edwards Design & Layout: Profimeedia Printed in Adverts Cover: Moonika Siimets, photo by Anu Hammer ESTONIAN FILM

ISSN-2228-3714

The Year of Celebrations

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NEWS

It’s Already

Christmas

EIA’S CHRISTMAS AT PHANTOM OWL FARM

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Photo by Anu Hammer

DIRECTOR ANU AUN

is a director-scriptwriter and producer currently working at Luxfilm. Anu graduated with a BA in TV Directing and completed postgraduate studies in Film Directing at the Baltic Film and Media School. Anu’s debut feature The Polar Boy premiered at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival official competition and screened at the Cairo International Film Festival and Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. For producer Maie Rosmann-Lill, Eia’s Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm is her third feature film – her previous films The Days that Confused (2016, dir. Triin Ruumet) and The Man Who Looked Like Me (2017, dir. Katrin Maimik and Andres Maimik) both premiered in the Karlovy Vary East of West competition program. The main roles in Eia’s Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm are played by Paula Rits, Siim-Oskar Ots, Märt Pius, Priit Pius, Liis Lemsalu, Mirtel Pohla, Priit Võigemast, Jaan Rekkor, Juhan Ulfsak and Anne Reemann. The film’s production designer is Matis Mäesalu and the editor is Margo Siimon. The film is produced by Luxfilm and Kinosaurus Film.

At the beginning of January, the last of the feature films that won the Estonia 100 film competition went into production. The film is set to screen by Christmas 2018. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Kristjan Mõru

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he children’s adventure film Eia’s Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm follows 10-year-old Eia, whose Christmas holiday takes an unexpected turn after being brought to a mysterious farm in rural Southern Estonia. She follows her heart to rescue an old primeval forest, helps two lovers find each other, and is destined to unwrap her family’s well-kept secret. The screenwriter and director of the film is Anu Aun. Eia’s Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm is an adventure film for the whole family that brings the viewers closer to nature. The film is special because it uses two directors of photography - director of photography Heiko Sikka will film all

of the directed scenes, and nature cinematographer Ants Tammik will film the documentary nature scenes of forest animals and birds. “We’re planning on using the directed scenes intermittently with those in nature so that the viewer feels like our characters are really in the middle of a vibrant forest full of animals. Using this parallel editing between the forest and our characters will create sympathy for the inhabitants of the forest and increase people’s understanding of the real dangers that felling a forest can have on the animals living there,” said producer Maie Rosmann-Lill to Estonian Film. According to the producer, the future target audience was already in-

volved in the project during pre-production. “We found the main actors for the film through a casting to which 3000 children applied. Children came from every corner of Estonia to try out for the film. Some children even came across borders, from Helsinki and Moscow. There were 7 boys and 7 girls in the final round and we organized a camp in the forest with them. There we understood who the children we’d be spending several months in the forest with really were. We cast 10 year-old Paula Rits and 12 year-old Siim Oskar Ots in the main roles. They are great on camera and off. Director Anu Aun wants to make a film that looks very Estonian but is also interesting elsewhere in Europe. Anu herself has two children and she got the idea for the film as she was reading them bedtime stories. Estonia doesn’t yet have its own children’s Christmas film so we’re very happy to be able to give one as a present to our country for its 100th anniversary,” Rosmann-Lill added. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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Photos by Liisabet Valdoja

NEWS

Fire Lily Production Finished Director Maria Avdjushko’s debut feature Fire Lily will premiere in Estonia on May 9, 2018.

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he new mystical and thrilling drama asks what sort of reality can give our life meaning. The film tells the story of optometrist Pia (38), whose marriage has recently fallen apart because she was unable to have children. She lives surrounded by the mess left from moving and can only pull herself together enough to go to work. Her ex-husband, on the other hand, is already with a younger woman and they are expecting a baby. As she tries to move on with her life, Pia starts understanding the unknown and her own inner power. “I was drawn to the project because of this modern theme that hasn’t been explored in Estonian cinema before. And the strong

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Ingrid Iso­ tamm (on the right) and Epp Eespäev on the set of Fire Lily. Maria Avdjushko

group of women behind the project was no less important to me,” commented producer Aet Laigu. The film’s screenwriters are Maria Avdjushko, Leana Jalukse

and Al Wallcat and the cinematographer is Thierry Pouget from France. Fire Lily is edited by Helis Hirve and produced by Meteoriit (Estonia), A Single Man Productions (France) and Umedia (Belgium). The Estonian distributor is Estonian Theatrical Distribution. The main cast in Fire Lily is Ingrid Isotamm, Johann Urb, Eva Eensaar, Bert Raudsep, Epp Eespäev, Adele Taska and Rasmus Kallas. EF


Photo by Gabriela Liivamägi

Mart Taniel Nominated for ASC Spotlight Award for November

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art Taniel’s cinema­to­ graphic work on November earned him a spot as one of three nominees for the American Society of Cinematographers, Spotlight Award. The three cinematographers nominated for the ASC Spotlight Award this year are Máté Herbai for the film On Body and Soul (dir. Ildikó Enyedi), Mikhail Krichman for the film Loveless (dir. Andrei Zvyagintsev) and Mart Taniel for the film November (dir. Rainer Sarnet). At the moment, Mart Taniel is working on Kaur Kokk’s debut film The Riddle of Jaan Niemand, which is being made as part of the Estonia 100 anniversary celebrations and set to premiere domestically in

October. Taniel is also shooting his next film, directed by the Icelandic filmmaker Grímur Hákonarson’s (the filmmaker behind Rams) titled County. November will be released in theaters in North America from

Mart Taniel’s remarkable cinemato­graphic work on Novem­ ber earned him a nomination for the ASC Spot­ light Award.

February 23, 2018 by the film’s North American distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories. The film will also be released on HBO in a dozen countries in the fall of 2018. Director Rainer Sarnet’s November is a fairytale for adults, with the main roles played by Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi, Heino Kalm, Meelis Rämmeld, Katariina Unt, Taavi Eelmaa and Jaan Too­ ming. The cinematographer is Mart Taniel, the producer is Katrin Kissa and the production designers are Jaagup Roomet and Matis Mäesalu. November was produced by Homeless Bob Production (Estonia) in co-production with PRPL (Netherlands) and Opus Film (Poland). EF ESTONIAN FILM

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NEWS Photos by Siim Lõvi / ERR

The Estonian Cultural Endowment Annual Awards In February 2018, the Estonian Cultural Endowment distri­ buted its annual prizes for the film industry in Estonia.

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Director Rainer Sarnet received a prize for November from Estonian film critics.

The Virgin Maali

The Critics Awarded November At the beginning of January, the traditional yearly awards were given out by the Estonian Film Journalists Associa­ tion, including The Virgin Maali (Neitsi Maali) Award for Best Film of the Year. The film critics decided to give the award to Rainer Sarnet’s film November.

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he critics’ award was given out for the 25th time this year, making it Estonia’s longest-standing and most consistent film award. In addition to a bronze sculpture, the award also has a cash prize. The Estonian Film Journalists Association honored their colleague Andrei Liimets with the award for Film Journalist of the Year for his work in different print and radio publications.

Andrei Liimets

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Andrei Liimets has reason to be happy about how well Estonian film is doing. “Last year, there were at least a dozen domestic films that were strong contenders for the award. Rainer Sarnet’s November won for its memorable artistic achievement and world-class visual language,” Liimets added. Among the five nominees for the Neitsi Maali were also the documentary film Love... (dir. Sandra Jõgeva) and the feature films The End of the Chain (dir. Priit Pääsuke), The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow (dir. Sulev Keedus) and The Man Who Looks Like Me (dir. Katrin and Andres Maimik). The award for the Best Distribution Film went to Andrei Zvyganitsev’s drama Loveless. The Estonian Film Journalists Association has been active since 1993 and is a member of the international film journalists organization FIPRESCI. The first award was given out in 1994 to a film made in 1993. EF

he Audiovisual Arts committee decided to give the Lifetime Achievement Award to esteemed documentary filmmaker and organizer of the Pärnu Film Festival, Mark Soosaar. The award for the Film of the Year went to November, a prize shared between director Rainer Sarnet and producer Katrin Kissa. “Just for a moment, it seems possible for love to sprout from the mud like a lonely flower, but then we see that the world is too spiritless and the various unpredictable forces, both worldly and otherworldly, are too numerous to allow it. Mart Taniel also received the prize for Best Cinematography for November.

Love...

The award for the Best Documentary Film was given to Sandra Jõgeva’s Love... and the Best Animation Film was awarded to Chintis Lundren’s Sulev Keedus Manivald, which also screened at the Sundance Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand at the beginning of 2018. The Best Director Award went to Sulev Keedus for two films - for the feature film The Manslayer/The Virgin/ The Shadow and the documentary film War. EF


Edith Sepp Continues as CEO of EFI In November 2017, a committee made up of the board of the Estonian Film Institute (EFI) and experts from the film field decided that Edith Sepp-Dallas, who has been heading the Institute since 2013, will continue in her position for the next five years. Her second term will begin in March 2018.

Photo by Anu Hammer

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he Head of the EFI board and Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture Paavo Nõgene stressed the importance of consistency and stability inside the Institute and for the development of the film industry as a whole. EFI’s Head of Production, Piret Tibbo-Hudgins, also had her term extended for another five years until the year 2023. Edith Sepp commented that Estonian film has been through five years of rapid development, and, in general, it has proven its vitality. With these developments, it is not so important what has been achieved, but the process itself is always decisive – the

entire industry has changed and become stronger. “In regard to the immediate future of Estonian film, this can be defined through strong stories based on national identity – visible, competitive and diverse. Some new schemes are working rather well, but we need to apply the experience gained through cash rebate projects and co-productions to create a stronger local film industry. The impetus gained has to contribute to the en-richment of the means of expression for our national film. For the next five years, EFI’s aim is to continue producing films with high-production value, distributing them, and preserving Estonian film culture,” Sepp added. EF

Edith Sepp-Dallas Andrei Liimets

The Estonian Film Journalists Association has elected Andrei Liimets to be their new Chairman.

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iimets is a freelance film critic, activist, communication manager and fan of open government, with a Masters in Politics and Government. “Though I’ve had many name tags, roles and jobs in my life, the one that’s called to me loudest has been cinema,” Liimets says of himself. At the beginning of January, his colleagues also gave him the title of Film Journalist of the Year. Of the domestic films coming out in 2018 and 2019, Liimets is looking forward to the large projects made

for the 100th anniversary of the Estonian Republic most. “We’ll also have a new studio complex, Tallinn Film Wonderland, which will bring external contacts to the developing film industry and ensure that Estonia remains an attractive shooting location and co-­ production partner. Even though the economic issues common to a small country haven’t gone away, Estonian film has every reason to be excited. There have never been so many films of such different genres and with such quality made here. Making sure that those films also get fair coverage in the media, will hopefully continue to be the role of our small but diligent group of film journalists. It’s for them to find the developments, events

Photo by Alari Rammo

The Estonian Film Journalists Association Has a New Chairman

and screenings, and to cover them honestly, enthusiastically but also without restraint,” Liimets commented to Estonian Film. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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TALENTSTORY COVER

Child

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in

History

In March, Moonika Siimets will premiere her debut feature film The Little Comrade, the first of the nine film projects made in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. By Johannes Lõhmus Photos by Anu Hammer

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he Little Comrade takes place during the Stalinist terror of 1950s Soviet Estonia. The main character is 6-year-old Leelo, whose mother has to pack her bags and leave with some men dressed in black right under her daughter’s nose. Before leaving, her mother asks Leelo to always be a good girl. This is the story of a father and daughter who have to manage on their own and find the strength to support each other during a difficult time. The Little Comrade makes you think about the efforts made to be good as a child during the Soviet Union and is based on beloved children’s author Leelo Tungal’s autobiographical books. Moonika Siimets talks about old stories buried deep in her heart, young actors, human fears, the energy needed to make a film and the challenges of writing and directing the first full-length film. How can you explain using the words Little Comrade together?

I don’t know how someone from abroad with no background knowledge would understand them if they don’t know anything about our history or communism. But those who know anything about Stalin and the Soviet time might detect the irony, tragedy and absurdist humor of the era, the childish naivety. These are the themes that Leelo Tungal wrote about in her book and that I try to talk about in my film. Why did you decide to tell Leelo Tungal’s story?

When the book The Little Comrade came out in 2008, I remember reading it and shaking for many weeks after, not being able to sleep. It had such a deep effect on

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ESTONIAN FILM

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COVER STORY DIRECTOR MOONIKA SIIMETS is a talented young Estonian director and scriptwriter. She graduated from the Baltic Film and Media School of Tallinn University and attended Judith Weston’s scriptwriting and directing master classes in Los Angeles. She has directed multi-award-winning documentaries, TV series, and short films, including Is it You?, which screened at Stockholm Film Festival (2013), The Last Romeo (2013) and Pink Cardigan (2014). Her documentary credits include Report: Green Estonia (2007), Another Dimension (2012), Trendy Dog (2010), and World Champion (2009). The Little Comrade, made in the frame of the Estonian centennial film programme, is her full-length feature debut.

Director Moonika Siimets on the set with the leading actors of The Little Comrade.

Comrade Siimets and Comrade Lenin.

me and I could visualize the story so vividly as I read it. I got the distinct feeling that I want to tell the story as a film or, at least, that someone should. I was already dreaming about making films back then, but the opportunity to tell this story still seemed like an unrealistic opportunity. I really liked thinking about how to talk about this era and our dark past through the eyes of a child. It gives you an opportunity to rethink the time because children often understand the world completely differently from adults. I carry so many remnants of my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ traumas in me. I was born in 1980 and I remember the mental struggle between communism and an Estonian mindset in my home. I remember how much I wanted to be Lenin when I grew up because I really liked the statue in downtown Tartu and the song “Big Lenin, he was so noble, caring, smart and good. He held us children in his lap and gently stroked our heads.” As a child, we don’t understand the difference between truth and lies because our connection to the world is so immediate, which is how propaganda starts to work. But at the same time, Leelo in the film doesn’t exactly understand that her mother was taken away and still wants to became a Soviet Pioneer.

Little Leelo is the titular character in the film and is in almost every scene. How hard was it to find Helena Maria Reisner, who plays Leelo, and to keep her in character?

The biggest challenge from the beginning was a child performing. But with some films, you just have to trust fate – you have to be open to everything that crosses your path. And so, when we were casting the adults, we needed a child to read the text with them, so it would be easier for them to act, and there was a brave, little girl I knew who was supposed to come but couldn’t and suggested another girl from her kindergarten. And so Helena came, looking just like little Leelo might look and had memorized the text better than many of the other actors. And I started to like her more and more. Later, we discussed it with the director of photography and agreed that we could start shooting right away with a girl like that, but we were afraid we couldn’t use her because she would grow up too fast. But then we had to move our shooting schedule because of our DoP Rein Kotov’s schedules. I wanted to work with Rein, so we had to start filming a year sooner than expected. Since the relationship between the father and daughter is so central to the film, the actors had to get along as well. Helena and Tambet Tuisk, who plays her father, had such a strong bond that we were able to let them improvise and didn’t have to stick to the text too much. They had a very strong, reciprocal trust between them. Directing the little girl was a big challenge, of course. How do you explain to a child today what a Pioneer or the NKVD (People’s Comissariat for Internal Affairs) was? Maybe she can even understand the words, but she doesn’t know the fear that our generation and earlier ones lived with. I was also worried about how she would defy her father in the film because she’s a very well-raised and obedient girl. It was hard for her at first. We tried to find the right emotions using themes from today, such as the fact that her mother works a lot and maybe isn’t at home as much as she’d like so she misses her mother. Or, when Feliks tells Leelo he’s going to take her to Tallinn with him, we tried to pretend he’d promised to take her to New York. Of course, Helena is a very filmogenic and talented actress by nature as well. You mentioned having to move the shooting period forward. What did that entail?

It actually ended up being good because the prepara-

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pildiallkiri pildiallkiri pildiallkiri

tions for applying for the Estonia 100 competition were very thorough, so we were pretty ready to start shooting. Otherwise, the break would have been too long. In my personal life, the timing was very important for me and starting to shoot earlier made it difficult. Between writing the script and the beginning of the shooting period, I gave birth to two children. So when the younger one, Ekke, was only two months old, I was starting the intensive scriptwriting period. I ended up writing for 20 minutes and then breast-feeding for 20 minutes. When he was 6 months old, we were casting the actors and scouting for locations. My focus was split, but I wanted to make the film so badly that if I hadn’t done it, I’d be very sad and regret it later. It is better to be a happy, working mother – that gives you a lot of energy. The Little Comrade is your first full-length feature film, it deals with a very serious time and stars a child – sounds like quite a stressful task?

The stress and responsibility felt immense at the beginning because the amount of work seemed massive. In addition to the usual preparations for a film, I had to work with the details and the mindset of how people might feel, act and speak at that time. Every film is a challenge, but a period movie demands a specific focus on the visual side because you have to draw the viewer into the past with you.

I wanted to make the film so badly that if I hadn’t done it, I’d be very sad and regret it later. We hear a lot of period music in the film, so I went through the sound archives in Tartu and Tallinn, visited the Sports Museum to learn about the mentality and movement of athletes of the era, consulted different specialists and read a lot of books about the time. The art team worked with a lot of museums, and the costume and make-up teams interviewed ladies who are 90 now to find out how people dressed back then. And to find out if it was truth or legend that officer’s wives used to wear silk slips as dresses? We did a lot of work.

The Little Comrade, made in the frame of the Estonian centennial film programme, is the full-length feature debut for director Moonika Siimets.

What do you think – is The Little Comrade a family film to be watched together with children?

To me, this is a drama with a child in the lead. It’s a ESTONIAN FILM

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COVER STORY whether their parents want to talk to them about serious things or not. I also remember my father coming home and knowing just from the sound of his footsteps what mood he was in and why my mother was so quiet. A child takes on these fears and magnifies them. The Soviet army was stationed in Tartu and I remember my grandmother always repeating to me that I had to make sure not to look a soldier in the eye or they might rape me. Years later, I suddenly felt very anxious when I was escorted for safety by some Russian soldiers at a festival. Only then did I understand that I was projecting my grandmother’s fear, and probably also her wisdom. I remember my great-grandparents – they always thought it was better not to stand out, but to be discreet and not talk too much or resist too much. I was bothered by this as a teenager because I didn’t yet understand why they were so submissive and wouldn’t stand up for themselves in completely elementary situations. Another example is the phrase “being a good child”. That’s some sort of 20th century parenting term that says that someone is good when they are obedient to society, do as they are told and blend into the grey masses, but what you feel in your heart is something different and we should stay true to who we are. We should fight for what we believe. How much did you have to fight your own convictions while you were writing the script?

film for adults but it can definitely be watched together with children. I think that watching it together will bring up a lot of good topics for discussion after the film to help the kids understand what happened. We tend to see history in black and white nowadays, as if all we had was the Russians as occupiers and the Estonians against them. Actually, things were much, much more complicated and no one knows what was really behind the decisions made back then. I was trying to give a sense of the fear this created. I think talking about the themes in our film is a good opportunity to talk about the dark shadow of the era in general: To hand the freedom we achieved over to future generations. What are these themes?

I always work on a film through themes I’ve internalized so that I can talk about them. For example, my grandmother never wanted to talk about the horrors that war and occupation brought but, just like Leelo in the film, I could feel the fear that lived inside of her. Children have antennas that are tuned regardless of

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‘‘But with some films, you have to trust fate, ‘‘ says Moonika about The Little Comrade.

The competition went on for a long time, so I was able to write something, wait half a year without touching it, then keep going. I lived through each story – I thought, struggled, walked around and couldn’t sleep, so I kept bothering my poor partner. Then I got the feedback and had to swallow the criticism without losing myself inside it all. It’s so easy for an experienced script doctor to overtake a screenwriter nowadays, telling them how the scheme should be followed and how the third act has to be like this and the character has to develop like this. On the one hand, the scheme is right, but it’s also not the only way to make a film. It’s a very boring way to tell a story, making it all just a job. Fortunately, most situations in Estonia are still different. Here, filmmaking still has to be your hobby, your big love and passion. What are you interested in as a filmmaker? What do you look for and observe?

It’s very easy to tell a director apart. Some are motivated by costumes, others by visuals - I’m motivated by stories and characters. In documentaries, I’m drawn to the idea of opening a person up. It’s a very delicate, psychological dance between the director and the other people on set. In a feature film, I’m interested in the actor and how to help them so that the scene comes to life. That’s the most exciting part for me. Acting and directing coach Judith Weston has taught me a lot in that respect. I was able to turn to her for help with some of the difficult scenes in The Little Comrade and she gave me good advice.


Of course, the image, atmosphere and feeling of the film are also important to me. I guess I’m a feeling director because it’s easiest for me to explain something to the director of photography or production designer by describing the scene or telling a story that created the specific emotion that I want to recreate in a certain scene.

You have to find the right people who want to be as focused as you are and share your energy.

So how do you work with actors?

Generally, I know what I want to achieve. But I’m also very interested in what the actor brings to the scene. I want there to be a reciprocal dialogue and for the character to be born out of discussions, trying different things, and knowing how the actor feels about it. I find that interesting. For example, in this film, I had a very hard time creating the character of the mother. I couldn’t find my way inside her. She has an episodic role and it felt like a construction. But then, Eva Koldits came to the casting and she played that little scene in a way that suddenly I knew very clearly who Helmes was and the power that was hidden inside her. That’s what’s so interesting in filmmaking for me – how every member of the creative team adds something. When you have a deep trust between you and you’re on the same page, you’re working together on the same thing, it’s a bit like jazz – the joy and delight of the process even when it’s difficult. But, yes, that

needs to be based on trust and respect for each other’s work. Plus the preparation has to be very good, and you have to keep the big picture in mind. You can’t go completely crazy – someone might suggest something outlandish and then you have to bring them back and explain what you want to them again. It’s also very important to make your own voice heard. But I think the relationship between the actor and director is very interesting. My films have been much better for those strong relationships. It’s hard to call them my films because a whole crew has come together to make them and given something of themselves to the film. What is the biggest challenge for you as a filmmaker?

The hardest thing for me is managing all the people who want to influence me. The producers, financiers and other people who mean well, they all want to help but you have to stay true to yourself. It’s a very good learning process for me because I have to listen to my own voice and understand what is true and false. It’s a very big challenge to work through suggestions without losing your voice. Many very good directors have lost theirs because of budgetary reasons or rushing too much. I don’t like it when you have to hurry and people lose their focus or start to rush things. You have to find the right people who want to be as focused as you are and share your energy. Finding them is an immense joy, but not finding them is also a great pain that makes you have to invent ways to motivate the team. Do you think it is easy to find people who share your energy and are dedicated in Estonia?

DOP REIN KOTOV ABOUT DIRECTOR MOONIKA SIIMETS: “The general mentality on a shoot is for the most part set by the director. Moonika is dedicated, brave, resolute and uncompromising, but also open to everything. She opens her own sensitive world up to the whole crew, which is very inspiring. A few years ago when Moonika and I were working on a documentary together, she talked about her dream of making feature films. Today, I’m lucky to be her companion on her first steps towards realizing that dream. Deciding to make your first film a technically complicated period piece with a child as the main character is a very bold step. I think Moonika has managed the burden with honor. So, honorable distributors, producers and film audiences – keep your eye on Moonika Siimets, from her first film to the ones that follow!”

We managed to do it for this film (she laughs). I think it’s actually very nice to make films in Estonia in general because we have so many unique and interesting creative people, really great actors, and our technical skills are very strong now. The crew don’t stick to the schedule so tightly that they stop at a certain time. People in Estonia are very motivated, and we had a very cool crew for this film. What are your plans for the future?

I’m working on two documentary projects. The first is called Roots; it’s a compilation of the personal stories of six different female directors, and mine is one of them. The second is a poetical documentary about life, longing and searching for happiness between Estonia and Finland. I have a few ideas for feature films too, but they’re not ripe enough for me to talk about them yet. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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Photo by Petra Mrša

NEWS

Fox on the Run Estonian Animation Manivald Competed at Clermont-Ferrand and Sundance.

C

hintis Lundgren’s short animation film Manivald screened at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in North America. It was the first Estonian short film to screen in the animation competition at Sundance. Out of 8740 submissions, 69 short films were selected and only 15 short animations made it into the competition. The film also screened at the world’s largest short film festival in Clermont-Ferrand. Of 6621 films submitted for the international competition program, 75 from 48 countries made the cut. “Considering that I’m self-taught in animation, it’s a big honor for me to be selected for such important film festivals. I’m also very thankful to my co-screenwriter Draško Ivezic and script consultants Priit Pärn and Olga Pärn. Without them, the film wouldn’t have made it anywhere,” the film’s author, Chintis Lundgren, said. Manivald is a short

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film but a TV series of the same name is in development. “Hopefully the success of this film will open doors for us and allow Manivald’s adventures to continue,” Lundgren adds. Manivald is an Estonian-Croatian-Canadian co-production. In the film, 33-year-old fox Manivald is still living at home with his retired Mother, until one day, washing machine repairman, wolf Toomas

interrupts their harmonious life and instigates a love triangle that turns Manivald’s life upside down. “I prefer to use animals as characters in my films because they’re easier to relate to. It’s not that hard to identify yourself with a fox or a rabbit. If I drew a man with a mustache and a bald head that would be very

Director Chintis Lundgren and the main character of her animation hit Manivald.

specific and not everyone would see themselves in that character, and I’d like for the audience to recognize themselves and laugh at their own stupidity and problems,” explained the director to Estonian Film. Manivald has screened at more than 50 film festivals around the world and won 13 prizes so far. Director Chintis Lundgren started making animation films in 2008. Her first films were made for fun but her success at festivals led her to start her own animation studio, Chintis Lundgren Animation Studio, in 2011. Her films have screened at festivals all over the world (Ottawa, Annecy, Zagreb, OIAF, LIAF, etc.) Lundgren currently lives in Croatia, where she has a tight-knit cooperation with the studio Adriatic Animation. EF


Photo by LIisabet Valdoja

Class Reunion

A Wedding and a Funeral

2

The Class Reunion, a film based on the Danish hit by the same name, broke box office records in Estonia with almost 190,000 admissions and is now getting a sequel. Class Reunion 2: A Wedding and a Funeral will have its domestic premiere in February. The film is based on The Reunion 2: The Funeral (Klassefesten 2: Begravelsen, 2014) produced by Tomas Radoor and Rene Ezra, written by Lars Mering and Claudia Boderke and directed by Mikkel Serup. The sequel has a budget of 447,700 Euros, which is mostly coming from private partners, distribution presales and the production company’s own investment. Class Reunion 2 is produced by Taska Film (producers Evelin Soosaar-Penttilä and Kris Taska) and distributed by Vaata Filmi. The director is Rene Vilbre, the director of photography is Mihkel Soe and the Estonian screenwriter is Martin Algus. According to producer Evelin Soosaar-Penttilä, their goal is

to hold on to the record for the highest ever box office in Estonia. ”Of course, we hope to beat the results of the first film, which would mean at least 200,000 viewers,” Soosaar-Penttilä told Estonian Film. Class Reunion 2: A Wedding and a Funeral reunites the three high school friends Mart, Andres and Toomas. This time, they are planning a memorable stag party for for Toomas, but due to an unexpected turn of events, they end up at a funeral instead. It has been two years since the first Class Reunion film and the three friends have all reached new stages in their lives. Rock star Toomas (Genka) has finally decided to get married. Mart (Mait Malmsten) is having troubles with his wife. And Andres (Ago

The main characters of the new com­ edy are three friends Toomas (Genka, on the left), Andres (Ago Anderson) and Mart (Mait Malmsten).

Anderson) has declared war on the opposite sex and decided to become a resolute bachelor. Even though the men have finally embraced their midlife crises, they are still tirelessly and passionately trying to surf the waves of life. How do you retain your sex appeal while your new album is being trashed by the media? How do you move on when you discover that your spouse has cheated on you? How do you make yourself desirable to the opposite sex after being turned down on numerous occasions? Will there be a wedding, who will kick the bucket, will Mart be able to save his marriage, and will Andres ever find happiness – these questions will find answers in the new comedy. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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TALENT

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ESTONIAN FILM


Starring

Rea Lest

Rea Lest starred in two prominent films in 2017 – Rainer Sarnet’s festival hit November and Sulev Keedus’s new film The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow. Rea acts with utmost precision and restraint while at the same time diving head-first into rivers, snow, mud and complicated human relations on the screen. By Maria Ulfsak. First published in Eesti Ekspress Photos by Anu Hammer

R

ea, let’s start with Sulev Keedus’s The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow. How did you feel about the film and your role in it?

Keedus cast you for the main role when you were still in theatre school. With such a long shooting period and you playing three different roles in it, how were you able to remain connected to this one job?

Sulev has created three completely different, beautiful, but also frightening worlds. I’ve been so intimately connected to this film for so long that I was extremely happy to see it finally come together. The film has changed quite a lot from the original script, to what we filmed and from everything that I once imagined it would become.

The shooting period started so long ago – we filmed some of it four years ago. I think the long shooting period may have even helped in that the three girls in the film are separated by time and I was separated from playing them by quite a lot of time as well. I still carried the material with me right up to the end when the shooting was completed.

Who are the three characters that you play in the film?

They are three girls who are moreor-less the same age. The first novella takes place in the bleakly agrarian peasant era. The main character, Maara, is pushed into a forced marriage. I often asked myself why she didn’t escape or fight back. But then I understood that the point of this story is that one decision was delayed, it came too late. And from that moment on, everything keeps moving at an uncontrollable pace. In the second novella, which takes place after the Second World ESTONIAN FILM

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TALENT The keyword for the third novella for me is emptiness. A state of not knowing what to want or what to strive for. That’s an interesting starting point – you can say yes to everything, move forward with no sense of the future and act based on momentary emotions. You’re one of the bravest actors I know. When you’re working, you often get this self-effacing look in your eye as if all consideration and risk analysis has been thrown to the wind. Did these two physically very taxing films, The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow and November, test your limits in some way?

War, the main character has to decide whether to marry a boy she doesn’t know in order to save herself. To me, this was strongly tied to the fear of growing up and becoming a woman, to the feeling that I’m not a girl any more and I have to step into a new world without really knowing if I want to be there. The nice thing about the second story is that it is based on true events and those two people stayed together in the end, which is very beautiful.

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When you’re three meters underwater and doing physical work, your lips still go purple and you start to shake all over your body after a few hours.

When it comes to limits, Sulev’s film was a good challenge. There were several times when I thought, my God, have I reached the limits of my personal human capacity? I tried it and was happy to find out I hadn’t. For example, on the very first shooting day of my career, I showed up on set without knowing what a take is or why they say “camera, sound, action”. It was November and I was supposed to run across a field in wool socks and then dive into an ice-cold river. I was worried – I had a bladder infection and didn’t feel great. But as you work, adrenaline takes over. For example, when you have a fever, it is actually easier to be on stage than at home – and I managed everything I had to do. In the underwater scenes for Rainer Sarnet’s November, we had a fun diving short-course before starting the scene. I was happy because all my water scenes had so far been outdoors and in ice-cold water in the winter - I would finally get to swim in 23-degree pool water. What could go wrong? But when you’re three meters underwater and doing physical work, your lips still go purple and you start to shake all over your body after a few hours. I’ve never had anything like a panic attack before but down in that water, I started to feel like I couldn’t do it any more because I couldn’t breathe. But at that moment, it wasn’t possible for


me not to do it. We had to finish the shoot. I was panicking like a helpless child being held down in the deep, dark water. The freedom and courage come from the clarity of purpose in the character I’m playing. There is one specific direction for me to go and that gives me strength. When I return to my everyday life, I’m lost again. I have no idea if I want to eat pasta or rice. I don’t know anything any more. But for that one, blissful moment that I’m on stage or in front of the camera, I have no doubts – I understand what I’m doing. Martti Helde’s Scandinavian Silence is still in production. You have to stand in the slush in shorts in that film as well. Don’t you ever wish your next role was indoors, in a relationship drama that takes place in a villa in the South of France?

I’m actually happy at how things have gone. I think it is much harder to delve into the depths of the soul sitting with your legs crossed and a cup of tea in your hand than frolicking in the mud naked. What is Scandinavian Silence about?

The film is still being shot. I’m fascinated by the idea of a film that is one car, two characters and what happens – or ends up not happening – between them. A static space is quite a demanding thing to ask the audience to watch during a whole full-length film. The male lead is played by my coursemate from theatre school Reimo Sagor. I was interested in how it would be to act with someone who I seemingly know very well but also don’t really know at all – I think that’s something that might even surprise me. You are currently alternating through four very intense plays in the theatre and rehearsing for a fifth one. How do you switch gears between roles?

If I had to do two different plays on the same day, it might be strange, but you start to tune yourself into

one or other play earlier in the day. I think in advance about what we’re doing that day, on what stage and using what means. I never go on stage as someone else. I don’t put on a mask and turn into someone else. And, yet, I still wonder how much of the person on stage is me and how much isn’t, because I would probably be doing something completely different as myself. I’ve heard colleagues say that they know how to go into a role, but no one ever teaches you how to come out of a role. To be completely honest, I don’t understand what all that means. I don’t disappear into the role; I’m not transfigured. I’m always still there. But it’s true that after a play there is a sense of emptiness, after you’ve flung so much energy out into the universe. You alternate between film and theater. Do they complement each other or do you do one at the expense of the other in some way?

I think the alternating has a good effect on me. They’re both so different. Everything about them is so different – the working method (a horrible word), team, etc. – that it’s refreshing when they alternate. You had two very big film roles in 2017, preceded by Kadri Kõusaar’s Mother (2016) and followed by Scandinavian

Jenna (Rea Lest) and Tom (Reimo Sagor) are the two cen­ tral characters in Martti Helde’s Scandinavian Silence.

Silence in 2018. We don’t have many actors who are offered such interesting work in domestic films. Aren’t you afraid that Estonia will become too small for you at some point?

It seems to me that if I wanted to go abroad through the film industry, I would have to feel that I really want to be wanted out there. I should demand to be wanted. But I don’t think I really want or demand that. At the moment, I want

I don’t disappear into the role; I’m not transfigured. I’m always still there. to make strange arthouse films here together with the strange people I know. It’s not possible to work in both theater and film a hundred percent at the same time forever, anyway, so at some point you have to make a decision. So far, I’ve been able to do both. And, fortunately, during all of the rushing about, I still have days that I can spend in my pajamas at home, eating sandwiches and binge watching The Hobbit, especially now, when the weather is cold and wet and ugly and I don’t want to leave my home at all. I’m dreaming of being able to hibernate for a change. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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SHORTS

Ice

Estonian

Bewitched

Helen’s Birthday

Shorts in 2018 For Estonia, the beginning of 2018 has started with an explosion of short films. Altogether, 12 brand new short films will be released theatrically within the first three months of the year. 2017 was extremely fruitful in terms of short film production, and that has given an excellent opportunity to compile two great compilations of shorts and bring them to cinemas this year. By Sigrid Saag

T

he first compilation, A Bad Scene, consists of five shorts produced by production company Kuukulgur Film. The films take a look at the darker currents hiding in human relationships - harassment, mental violence and manipulation; global topics, all of which have recently been hotly discussed all over the world. It is always a pleasure to see experienced directors enthusiastically return to the short film format to experiment, provoke and tell stories that matter. Two films out of the five (Nissan Patrol and The Christmas Mystery) are co-directed by Andres and Katrin Maimik, a partnership which has already given rise to two feature films together Cherry Tobacco (2014) and The Man Who Looks like Me (2017), both of which

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premiered in the East of the West program at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Rain Tolk, who co-directed Early Spring and Agreement, is mostly known to the public as an actor, but has also co-directed several features and documentaries. The Short Bewitched is directed by Maria Avdjushko, who is also a well-known theatre- and film actress. She has just finished shooting her first feature film Fire Lily, which is due to premiere in March 2018. We are optimistic that many more talented short film directors might follow in the successful footsteps of their predecessors, and with this in mind The Estonian Film Institute continues to support the production of short films, allocating approximately 90,000 Euros annually. A few additional conditions have been intro-

duced for applicants in recent years - the films cannot be longer than 15 minutes, they have to be produced within one year of receiving the support and fit under a common theme set by the EFI. These conditions have helped to combine the films together for a domestic release. This brings us to the second compilation, called Fresh Blood, which will reach cinemas in Estonia in March this year. The compilation includes six short films by several talented Estonian directors including Tanno Mee, Anna Hints, Marta Pulk, Evar Anvelt and Kaspar Ainelo. They might not be internationally known yet, but their stories move and inspire, and have great potential to grab the attention of a wide international audience. For the first time, together with the six traditional live action short films, a virtu-


Strawberry Eaters

The Christmas Mystery

Nissan Patrol

Beqaa VR

Manivald

Mary and the Seven Dwarfs

al reality film Beqaa VR by Rain Rannu will be screened. The 7-minute virtual reality short movie is loosely inspired by the real-life experience of 7 Estonian cyclists held captive by terrorists in Beqaa Valley in Lebanon and will place the viewer in the shoes of an Estonian hostage. Whilst the titles Ice (dir. Anna Hints) and Helen’s Birthday (dir Tanno Mee) have already successfully started their festival life, the others are still looking to book their international premieres. When talking about Estonian short films, Estonian short animations cannot be left aside. As a country with a very long tradition in animation, we produce a wide variety of wonderful short animations each year, both for children and adults. Manivald (2017) by Chintis Lundgren has taken the world by storm and is swiftly becoming one of the most successful Estonian short animations. After screenings at Animafest Zagreb, Annecy IAFF, Ottawa

IAF, Sundance and numerous other festivals, Manivald is also now a European Animation Award Nominee and was nominated for The Canadian Screen Award in the Best Animated Short category. Other freshly completed short animations include a puppet animation Mary and 7 Dwarfs (dir. Riho Unt), drawn animation Strawberry Eaters (dir. Mattias Mälk), 2D and 3D mixed animation The Overcoat (dir. Sean Mullen, Meelis Arulepp) and Letting Go (dir. Ülo Pikkov), a stop motion animation that was developed and produced as part of the AniDox Recidency programme in Denmark. Several others will be completed in the second half of the year, among them another wonderful stop motion animation by Anu-­Laura Tuttelberg with surreal creatures – animals, birds, insects, plants made of porcelain living in the tropical rainforest. In recent years several young Estonian directors have had the opportunity to

make their first feature film after having international success with their shorts. A great example is Anu Aun, whose short film Shift (2010) was selected for more than 70 international film festivals and won numerous prizes. Anu went on to direct her debut feature The Polar Boy (2016) and is now in the middle of shooting her second feature Eia’s Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm (2018). Priit Pääsuke, who is internationally known for his short film Black Peter (2008), made his directing debut last year with the feature film The End of the Chain (2017). Another good example is Kaur Kokk, who caught the interest of the international audience with his short film Olga (2014), which premiered at Clermont Ferrand. He is now about to complete his first feature The Riddle of Jaan Niemand, due in Autumn 2018. And Tanel Toom, of course, whose short film The Confession (2010) was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Live Action Short Film category at the 83rd Academy Awards. For his debut feature, Toom is now shooting the long-awaited adaption of Anton Hansen Tammsaare’s pentalogy Truth and Justice - an iconic Estonian novel published in 1926. The film is scheduled to premiere in February 2019. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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TALENT IN FOCUS

Power, Money &People

The winner of the Estonia 100 TV series competition, The Bank is inspired by real-life events from the turbulent 1990s in Estonia. One of the screen­ writers of the series, Tarmo Jüristo, talks about banking, writing and the wild ‘90s. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Anu Hammer

T

he Estonian Public Broadcasting will screen the 10-part drama series starting in the autumn of 2018 as part of its Estonia 100th Anniversary programming. The producers hope the series will also find international success.

The narrative axis of the story is focused on four main characters, but The Bank doesn’t really have a character-driven storyline. Rather, through these characters we’ve tried to portray a unique time and place – the 1990s in Estonia. This was a society where basically every rule ceased to apply, and we had a decade to build up everything the rest of Europe had taken for granted for generations. As you can guess, all kinds of things happen during the 10-hour span of the series. The basic premise of the story follows the flow of events that really took place in the ‘90s. We open the world to the viewer through the eyes of one character – Toomas – whose real-life prototype actually went from flipping burgers to become the CFO of one of Scandinavia’s largest banking groups in just a dozen years.

Regarding how much is autobiographical, the short answer is: very little. As we were writing the story, we didn’t for a moment try to “tell it like it was”. Yes, some people might recognize situations they see on the screen, some things happened in history in a similar way to our story and some characters say things people may actually have said – but that’s all secondary when it comes to our story. Our goal is to reflect how it all felt. Life back then – banking in Estonia in the ’90s – was a job that didn’t leave much room in your day for anything else, demanding quite a sacrifice. Looking back, it was a strange and surreal experience – people doing something with the utmost enthusiasm without really knowing much about what it was or why. In a way, it was like walking on the edge of a razor blade 24/7: the ones who weren’t brave enough to take risks were quickly trampled by the brave, and yet you saw the unfortunate results of risk-taking every day as well. I remember one of my colleagues back then (a trader, of course) loved the Stephen Hunt quote: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space. I think that one sentence encompasses the time very well.”

You worked at the bank that inspired the series. How much is this text autobiographical? And

How did you end up being a screenwriter? You’ve written columns and created theatrical

Tarmo, please tell us: who are the main characters and what happens to them?

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how would you describe your life and work back then?

ESTONIAN FILM


Screenwriter Tarmo Jüristo (left) and director Jan-Erik Nõgisto on the set of The Bank.

ESTONIAN FILM

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IN FOCUS nals Frans Baunsgaard and Steen Bille, who were brought in for workshops by the Estonian Film Institute. But we still had to do most of the heavy lifting ourselves using the good old trial and error method. What was the premise as you started writing? Was your technique to start with the psychology of the characters, or the events and actions?

Tarmo Jüristo

I don’t know if you could say that the other screenwriter, Eero Epner, and I are now “dedicated screenwriters”. So far we’ve only written one screenplay, and the fact that we did was a long series of incidents, surprises and coincidences. The first idea was born seven or eight years ago when stage director Tiit Ojasoo wanted to do a play at Theatre NO99 about the early years of Hansabank. The idea didn’t get much further back then. So, three years ago, Eero (with whom I had cooperated on a few theatre projects here and there) and I found ourselves discussing digging up those old notes and applying for the Estonia 100 drama series competition. We were one of 26 projects, so we didn’t have very high hopes. We were surprised to be selected as one of four projects that continued development, and even more so when we ended up winning the competition. So we never had a plan to “write a large-scale project,” but the thing kept growing until one day we had a set full of people and the cameras turned on. Sometimes I still can’t believe it. This whole period has been a very steep learning curve. We both had experience in writing and dramaturgy (Eero from his work with Theatre NO99, which is well-known throughout Europe) and that was undoubtedly helpful but we quickly realized that a TV series isn’t just “a very long story,” but a completely different genre and world from theatre and literature. Fortunately, we had help from Danish screenwriting professio­

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Screenwriter Tarmo Jüristo: “As we were writing the story, we didn’t for a moment try to “tell it like it was”. “

TV SERIES THE BANK takes place in a bank affecting the development of the whole nation. The bank grows at dizzying speed until eventually it becomes too successful. The story mixes the triumphs and crises in the local economy, politics and people’s lives. It is partially based on true stories about the ways in which banking, economics and politics in Estonia mixed and confused during rapidly changing times. This is the story of an era of profound and change at lightning speed, which brought about large profits and irrevocable losses. Although fictitious, the series is based on real characters and events. It tells a unique story at a significant point in history, following the collapse of the Soviet empire. Everything was gone. People were at generation zero. Everything had to be rebuilt. From scratch. Politics, companies, people, life. The series is directed by Jan-Erik Nõgisto, Rainer Sarnet, Juhan Ulfsak and Marianne Kõrver. The main roles are played by Sergo Vares, Evelin Võigemast, Priit Võigemast and Gert Raudsep. The directors of photography are Meelis Veeremets and Ants Martin Vahur, the production designer is Kairi Mändla, the screenwriters are Eero Epner and Tarmo Jüristo, the line producer is Kaspar Kaljas, and the producer is Paul Aguraiuja.

Photos by Jekaterina Abramova

texts but not been a dedicated screenwriter on a large-scale project like this for television or film before.

Since The Bank is based on a true story, that was a comfortable place for us to start writing. From the beginning, we were sure we didn’t want historical accuracy to hold us back, but the general framework of events ended up remaining more-or-less what it was in real life. In that sense, The Bank is definitely the story of an era. But at the same time, we tried to touch on universal themes found within that unique and unparalleled time. Still, many of the characters in The Bank have real-life prototypes whose stories we played with just as freely as we did with the events of the era. And, finally, a very large part of what you see on screen is the fruit of pure fantasy. A ten-part series gives you the opportunity to not only tell a story but also open up a whole world. Ten hours is enough time and space to stir up several dif-


ferent storylines, let them bounce together and part, play with the tempo and style, allow the characters to develop, and so on. Actually, I think you have to do all those things in that time. We had a lot of role models as far as TV series but if we named them, it would set the bar very high for us. To mention just two series that we kept in mind for inspiration, they would be Fargo and Narcos. But there are dozens and dozens of series that we tried to learn something from. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of good drama series to use as examples these days. With The Bank, did the screenwriters just hand their text over to the producers and directors or are you involved with the life that your text leads after you let go?

We handed the text over last spring, but we are still involved and probably will be until the final version is handed over to the broadcasters. We go to the set, work with the directors, artists, actors and cinematographers. From time to time, we have to explain something to someone, adjust the dialogue somewhere or change some of the scenes. There are decisions to make in the editing as far as tempo and stress, trying different transitions, different versions of the VOs and keeping an eye on the 10-hour structure of the whole series. Generally, I think we are the only ones in the 160-member team who have a total overview of the story as a whole. In that sense, our situation is somewhat similar to starting a bank in the ‘90s - no one in the Baltics has undertaken a project of such scale and ambition, which is probably why we were able to put together a team who is, I have no doubt, the best of the best. And not just the best from Estonia – Finnish actress Kati Outinen agreed to perform in our series as well, for example. The timeframe of the series – the wild ‘90s in Estonia – is a very intriguing premise. The domestic audience will definitely recognize the characters, places and situations. But what might an international audience see in the series if they don’t know anything about the context?

As screenwriters, our first, second and third most important goals were to write a good story: a story that is interesting and captivating, one that people can identify with and that has a tempo and structure that can carry the story through 10 episodes. We hope all of that will work even if the viewer has no connection to what happened twenty years ago on the outskirts of Europe in a small society that suddenly found itself free, though we also hope that the feeling of being in a situation like that, of living, loving, working, winning and losing at a time like that, is worth spending ten hours of your life in front of a television screen. We truly think it is. This is a story that hasn’t been told yet but is worth telling (and that just happened to be the reason that Kati Outinen gave when she agreed to do our series). This is something special.

Jan-Erik Nõgisto

”When You’re Winning, You Don’t See What You’re Losing“ The TV series The Bank is a first for Estonia as far as the budget, number of shooting days and crew are concerned. The directors of The Bank all have different backgrounds. One of them, Jan-Erik Nõgisto, talks about his role on the series. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Anu Hammer

J

an-Erik, why did you decide to accept directing The Bank – what captivated you and drew you to the project?

With The Bank, both I and all the other people involved with the project were drawn to it because of the script. It is dramaturgically whole, open, a breath of fresh air without even the scent of a script doctor’s banal handiwork. Don’t get me wrong, we are all familiar with the formations that build up the story, but they also remain a blank canvas for us. The script gives us a lot of room to be creative, it works like a living organism. ESTONIAN FILM

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Photos by Jekaterina Abramova

IN FOCUS

Some might say that there’s no point in making a series about a bank because it’s just not an interesting environment. But from the beginning, and to this day, I saw this as a wide-reaching, socially important story that we’ve (hopefully) succeeded in making interesting. We have a screenplay that is based on true events, that have been concentrated and fictionally dramatized. The premise is also very specific to our story – the bank that our story is based on changed our whole nation and the nature of our society. It grew out of the situation at the time and the craziness of the post-Soviet ‘90s. It changed Estonia, it was changed, and it became a crucial element in the growth of a whole generation. You have directed short films and commercials, but this is your first time with a television series. What are the biggest challenges as a director of a series?

The most difficult part was adjusting to a completely new production model – something between a feature film and a “regular TV series”. With regular series, the production is pressed into an absurdly tight schedule, and feature films usually mean a long time traipsing around the set. We had a strange, in-between format. We did a lot of research and tried to copy the scheme used to shoot the series Mr. Robot. We were partly location-based, partly director-based, and sometimes – as the 8 or so years that the real-life events dictated – story or chronology-based. We’ve put the most emphasis on the artistic ambition of the screenplay, trying not to be just a skeleton of the storyline but to create an atmosphere, an image, a generalization as well. This series isn’t just about one, specific event that drags the characters along with it. It is a concentrate, a bouillon cube of the development of a whole generation and societal group, that we tell through smaller scale stories. The goal isn’t

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The crew and the actors on the set of The Bank.

just to tell the story but to show the audience something wider, more general and more socially specific. Now that the shooting period is over and the first episodes are edited – what do you think are the biggest strengths of the series?

The general outline of all the episodes has already been edited. They’re not finished, but the narrative is there. The strengths are those same temporal and developmental arcs that play throughout the series. We are strongly nonjudgmental of the events that take place in the series, allowing the audience to move with the story and characters on their own. The premise of our story is: “When you’re winning, you don’t see what you’re losing.” I really think it’s coming together into one complete whole, which I’m happy to see. Every decision is important. Every action, every word determines what comes next. You are not what you do for money. Your life is not predetermined. Everything you create starts to unravel at the other end. The series takes place in the ‘90s when everything changed so fast that general, social and professional mistakes were forgiven more quickly. But that also created a larger sense of personal isolation. It created the world we are in now. When you are on the path to success, you don’t notice the other things that are collapsing around you. You are directing the series together with three different directors, some of whom are more

When you are on the path to success, you don’t notice the other things that are collapsing around you.


We had four directors simply because there is so much material: One or two directors wouldn’t have been able to digest all of it. No one has made a series like this around here before. We worked on the foundations and research for a long time, trying to do something that was completely new at least in our local context and that would also be interesting to an outside audience. Something that doesn’t talk about how the financial system of some East-European nowhere country was created, but more about the effect of success on people and society in general – a society that is very small and immature in our story. Every event that happens resonates back on a wide scale. Each one of us got a different timeframe related to the development of our bank and the social groups around it. The episodes have different tempos aswell, because that’s how the story develops. But the world

around the characters doesn’t change completely – this isn’t a sci-fi series. Let’s say that the world just shows another side of itself. We worked together to decide how the characters develop and at what point we hand them over to the next director. We also have a consensus when it comes to the visual whole – and the cinematographers and production designers kept an eye on that. In general, the integrity of the whole is also guaranteed by the screenplay. The form should always follow the content and the screenplay has a strong code inside it. We’re not here to make our own auteur films but to create a whole. The series takes place in the ‘90s in Estonia – quite a crazy time. Can you tell us a story that characterizes the nature, absurdity, and – why not – the beauty of that time?

I remember all kinds of things, different incidents. An old person who watched yet another bank robbery (an

EFI Supporting TV Series High end TV series have found their footing next to feature films and their production is a growing trend in the audiovisual industry. Due to our limited budget, EFI hasn’t been able to fund series before now. We found the opportunity in the framework of the Estonia 100 annviersary program and our screenwriters proved to be talented, quick studies. After a long deve­ lopment process, the series The Bank was selected because of its original and witty content and narrative style and because it is very well written.

The Bank is a widereaching, socially impor­ tant story about the turbulent 1990s in Estonia.

Piret Tibbo-Hudgins, Head of Production of Estonian Film Institute

Photo by Viktor Koshkin

theatre-oriented, others with a very distinct and clear style as a film director. Why is that?

ATM was pulled off a wall with a van) and stood in front of the bank, refusing to move because “his money was also in that bank”. The Russian army retreating down the highway leading out from the city. The people who saw the first ATMs and took all of their money out to return it to the bank office because “they didn’t trust machines”. Telling these stories makes it easy to become sarcastic or nostalgic about the past. Bringing those stories to the written word tears them out of their contexts and changes their importance. The incidents can’t protect themselves from us and creating the proper context demands more time than we have right now. But I remember a certain vibe. Everything was changing, but also boiling together. Suddenly, everyone was in a hurry. I was very young and didn’t understand where they were going, but suddenly, everything was allowed. For some inexplicable reason, everything seemed a little gross. It wasn’t ready, it was raw but at the same time had gone bad, like a shitty, gastric-tasting Moldovan rosé. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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DOCS

The Wind Sculpted Land

Estonian

Docs 2018

Ahto: Chasing a Dream

Many hotly anticipated Estonian documentaries will premiere in 2018, and all of them are fitting in their own ways to celebrate the 100th birthday of our nation. They look to the past more than the present day. Roots

By Kaarel Kuurmaa

W

e could say that the trend actually began in 2017, with Terje Toomistu’s Soviet Hippies, the most successful Estonian documentary both domestically and at festivals. In the film, the anthropologist Terje Toomistu reveals the recent history of an occupied country through new-found spirituality. She shows us souls who have found an alternative lifestyle and hippie movement. The documentary is on its way to a lot of cinema screens internationally in 2018 and spreading its fun message of peace and love. Another long-awaited film that will hopefully travel to a lot of festivals has been completed and will premiere domestically in March 2018. It tells the story of globetrotter Ahto Valter, the first Estonian to travel around the world. At the age of 14, he was already working as a sailor on

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the fanciest ship in the Baltics, the Stormbird, and by the age of 17, he’d sailed his own boat to America. Though his life was full of other exciting adventures and twists and turns, his most remarkable feat was his trip around the world in 1938, where he sailed under the Estonian flag with his wife and 14-month son Ted as his companions. Through the years, director Jaanis Valk has been collecting unique archival material and doing interviews with people who remember Ahto Valter. Ahto left the independent Estonia as a free man and never again saw his country emancipated, due to the complications of World War II. His feats remained largely unheard of due to the propagandist Soviet treatment of history. Now we have Ahto: Chasing a Dream – an ethnographically and historically dignified documentary full of fabulous archival footage, allowing us to relive Ahto’s trip around the world.

In January, DocPoint festival’s 2018 opening film both in Estonia and Finland was a fast-paced and politically suspenseful Estonian documentary about the first government of re-independent Estonia, run by 32 year-old Prime Minister Mart Laar. The title, Rodeo: Taming a Wild Country, gives a fairly obvious clue to how tempestuous a time it was, taking a country from the grips of a crumbling, socialist giant into the blissful arms of capitalism. These were wild years full of wild actions that we are still telling legends and writing books about. The film portrays one historical perspective of how a country was saved from its economic collapse by the help of friends abroad. Thanks to the reforms that took place at the beginning of the 1990s, Estonia still enjoys a front rank status in Eastern Europe. But all of that came at a price. Directors Raimo Jõerand and Kiur Aarma have made a surprisingly


Baltic New Wave

Rodeo: Taming a Wild Country

Soviet Hippies

humorous film about the difficult decisions made – both of whom have had their films screened by many TV stations around the world. Thanks to a special fund created for the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, two very special documentary projects are also in the works. Estonia’s noble nature documentary tradition is being carried by the brightest star of the new generation, director-cinematographer Joosep Matjus, who has spent very little time in the city these past few years as Estonian nature has demanded the best hand to record it. The film’s titles take us through snowy winters, bright green springs, voluptuous summers and colorful winters. The Wind Sculpted Land is a story told through the adventure of some young moose yearlings. The film takes place in one of the largest coastal meadows in Europe called Matsalu National Park and located on the west coast of Estonia. The second documentary project made for Estonia 100 brings together six female Estonian documentary filmmakers from different generations – Nora Särak, Aljona Suržikova, Heilika Pikkov, Anna Hints, Moonika Siimets, and Kersti Uibo. The collection of short documentaries,

Girl From Nowhere

Roots, tells six very personal stories. They are stories about birth and death, being alone and together, great joy and great sadness. They are told honestly and bravely from a female perspective. The authors are well known Estonian female directors between the ages 29 and 61. The central symbol of the collection is the root - the beginning, the origin, the starting point, the cause. The six short films are joined together by talented puppet animation director Anu-Laura Tuttelberg’s fantastic animations. Award-winning director Jaak Kilmi’s new documentary film Girl From Nowhere tells an unbelievable story about a KGB agent who left the Soviet Union for the U.S., and his daughter Ieve Lešinska, who had to change her identity and name and forget her Latvian heritage. This is a true political thriller from the Cold War – a story that can be found, despite the uniqueness of each case, in many societies from behind the iron curtain. It’s a very personal and emotional story about identities broken by political games and searching for one’s past, made as a co-production between Latvia, Esto-

Seneca’s Day

nia, Germany and the Czech Republic. Another sweet tidbit for the true cinephile is being made in cooperation between the three Baltic countries. The film Baltic New Wave is like a journey into the soul of a man through the history of poetic documentary filmmaking in the Baltic States. This is a story about a unique phenomenon in the history of cinema – the Baltic school of poetic documentary and its creators – filmmakers from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia who broke the dogmatic propaganda documentary tradition in the Soviet Union in the 1960s by creating films that were totally different: humane, meaningful, and poetic. The journey leads to the grand masters of Baltic poetic documentary – Uldis Brauns, Aivars Freimanis, Mark Soosaar, Andres Sööt, Robertas Verba, Henrikas Sablevi­­ cius: their films, and a unique collection of archival material. The film will enrich the canons of all three countries celebrating their 100th anniversaries this year in a touching and uplifting way. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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REVIEW

Folksy Arthouse The idea of a folksy arthouse film is a paradox in the Estonian context. The values of the two – folksy as something simple, logical and entertaining vs. the visual and thematic independence and self-confidence of arthouse cinema – represent opposing sides and elicit contempt from fans of the other format.

E

stonian cinema still lacks a true synthesis of the two – the war film 1944 brought more than 100,000 people to the domestic cinemas whereas Veiko Õunpuu’s experimental Roukli only 5000. We can’t expect the two to have equal admissions but the numbers could be a little closer to each other. In that context, The End of the Chain is a brave experiment. Playwright Paavo Piik’s play by the same name was performed at Tallinn City Theatre a few years ago.

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Ink Big! The critics have done their job

The material was far from folksy and instead felt surreal and narratively tenuous – the exact aspects that made it great fodder for an abstract auteur film. It seems that film director Priit Pääsuke understood this disparity. He is looking for as wide an audience as possible for his film about the secret life of a burger joint. The marketing was clever: the trailer presented a series of over-the-top jokes without building up any context and leaving the impression of a funny situational comedy. This won him a wider appeal, but those who know Pääsuke’s previous work – the

short film Black Peter and documentary Impromptu – also knew that he wouldn’t rest there; there had to be something more. And there was. It sounds suspicious, but The End of the Chain doesn’t disappoint either viewer. The film takes you into a sterile microcosm, a space with floor-to-ceiling windows where people come for the burgers but also to hide from the outside world. The Chain is a safe, non-critical zone where you can throw off your social armour and bare your true underbelly. The film is a series of studies that form a portrait of the times; a nuanced, existential peek into the everyday problems of a city-dweller. The dynamic narrative isn’t without comedy and the balance between joking and the absurd keeps the film on point. The fictional fast food restaurant where most of the film takes place doesn’t strive for authenticity. The idea isn’t to remind the view-


trinsic obstacles we all stumble over in our everyday lives. The key to The End of the Chain is our modern city and the people whose unstoppable lives are moving faster and faster, throwing them all the more often face to face with solitude and hopelessness, making them ask: what now? We are told to be better, smarter, stronger, prettier, faster, more ambitious. But somewhere we hit a wall and have to stop and take some time to think. The Chain is going to be closed down. This gives the people there a moment of freedom.

The End of the Chain By Kaspar Viilup First published in Sirp er of the smell of grease or be compared to large, international chains. Quite the opposite – the Chain acts as a zero environment. It’s just a room full of chaotically placed tables, a ball pit and a few advertisements – none of which creates any meaning or sets any conditions. The context is created by the people who end up there. Their stories and problems are reflected in the windows and left to resonate in the emptiness of the room.

This has brought on an array of criticism: “the film feels like a play”, “it’s not cinematic”, “I have to imagine it into a film”. But isn’t this actually deceptive? Maybe the director is trying to show us that we need an audience to understand our problems and find solutions for them: that we need to declare our hardship and pain out loud in order to comprehend it. We need to pour it out. The listener is important – someone from outside your comfort zone, someone who becomes a figurative victim, whether that be another random employee, a waitress (Maiken Schmidt) or whoever. Perhaps The End of the Chain isn’t cinematically aesthe­ tic. Perhaps the dramaturgy lacks a consistent tension and the characters lack a deeper soul, which makes them shells of humans with no understandable emotions. Perhaps the camera and soundscape are also rambling with no real place or goal in mind. No one is in a hurry, there’s a sense of serenity. It is an almost apocalyptic still life that doesn’t leave anywhere else for us to go. Reality is reflected on the silver screen without excessive tragedy. We watch what happens minute by minute, feeling the commonalities, the microproblems and in-

The film takes you into a ster­ ile microcosm, a space with floor-to-ceiling windows where different people come for the fast food - but also to hide from the out­ side world.

Thus far, The Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (1979) is considered the only true cult film in Estonia. It has lived its life and reached fans domestically and abroad for decades. The End of the Chain has similar potential. It’s far from a perfect film – the restrictions of a short shooting period become apparent in the halted editing and the script could be a little denser – but the film hits a ten on the emotional scale. The author’s voice is clear and it feels like an arthouse film while also being simple, artistically precise and cinematic. In 2016, directors Triin Ruumet and Vallo Toomla premiered their debut films (The Days That Confused and Pretenders respectively), proving that the younger generation of Estonian filmmakers isn’t afraid to break out of the mould of depressing, Nordic films with their unique and personal auteur films. Priit Pääsuke can proudly join their ranks with his debut full-length feature. The End of the Chain blurs the line between art and commerce even more, proving that films can be made in Estonia with mostly private funding. There are jokes, laughter, sadness and introspection, all in our grey and familiar, everyday world. Yellow streetlights shine in the background, the random car drives by and hypnotic techno blasts on your headphones. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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Photos by Andres Teiss

REVIEW

The Eternal Road Every historical film must face one question: how can you tell a story in an interesting and captivating way when everyone knows what happens at the end.

Y

ou could say that Finnish director Antti-Jussi Annila had it even harder, as his film The Eternal Road is not only based on true events, but also on Antti Tuuri’s historical novel, which in turn was based on Pentti Haanpää’s 1931 novel The Witch Circle. A viewer can guess what will happen to the naively excited American Finns and their plans to rebuild Soviet Karelia in the 1930s without knowing the history. But, in a way, that’s not the point of the film. The goal of the screenwriters

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ESTONIAN FILM

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

Annila, Tuuri and Aku Louhimies is to show the dynamics of terror and the twists and turns taken by human psychology in conditions that reveal, with unbearable cruelty, how little influence the individual really has on life. The film centers on Jussi Ketola, the main character of a trilogy of novels written by Tuuri. The film begins with idyllic mountains broken up by the entrance of a black car – a symbol we also see later in the film – driving into a farmyard where Tommi Korpela (as Ketola) is stuffed in and “deported”. This was a common tactic of Finnish

The Eternal Road By Peeter Helme First published in Eesti Ekspress


rade Stalin – the father to us all – as the son of the kolkhoz pastor (an unbelievable position!) Toivonen (Hendrik Toompere as father and Hendrik Toompere Jr. as son) zealously reports. All the while, dark shadows hover over these difficult, but optimistic lives.

right-wing extremists in the ‘30s – they would nab (suspected) communists, beat them up, and drop them off at the Eastern border of Finland so the traitors could join their likes on the other side. A new life begins under new stars, with new ways and a new name. They make it clear to Ketola that there’s no coming back. He’d better forget his family and focus on the new assignments that await. In Karelia, both the main character and viewer are treated to an incomprehensible sight: thousands of Finns from Minnesota have come there to escape the financial crisis and inequality, and are now eagerly building up a socialist society. Things are strange. A jazz band plays in the saloon, baseball teams are competing on the field and settlers in cowboy hats press their hands together in devout prayer, all under the watchful eye of Com-

Speaking of dark shadows, a special role is played by Lembit Ulfsak, for whom playing NKVD Major Novikov became the last role of his life. Though there are a lot of Estonian actors in this made-in-Estonia film, they mostly have background or episodic roles. Ulfsak is one of them, though his character is all the more powerful for it. Novikov is silent as his stooped figure and sullen eyes watch over the actions of his underling, the jovial and obscenely familiar Karelia Security Officer Kallonen (Hannu-Pekka Björkman). From the beginning, it’s clear who holds the power. Novikov appears like the cold breath of primal evil. He rarely opens his mouth and only to bark at the reluctant Ketola. And that’s all it takes. Powerful stuff. As I’ve said, we know what happens at the end. In the second half of the 1930s, there was a change of course in the Soviet Union. The indigenization (коренизация) period ended and, as was custom in that country, the end was final and thorough, meaning that the end of the policy also meant the end of its followers. The Eternal Road doesn’t aim to analyze the processes that

A viewer can guess what will happen to the naively excited American Finns and their plans to rebuild Soviet Karelia in the 1930s without knowing the history.

took place, so the viewer may be confused about why the terror begins. But, on the other hand, perhaps the inexplicability actually explains it best. We can look back on the socio-political changes made by the Soviet regime but the people that the regime simply rolled over didn’t understand any of it and only felt fear.

The Eternal Road is a personal story but it is not about a hero. Ketola was not a hero. You could call him a survivor but the given context gives that word a bad connotation. No, he doesn’t betray anyone. But he’s also helpless to change anything. And who wasn’t back then? Maybe the biggest lesson that history teaches us is that it can’t be changed. And if you survive, it’s only by chance. The Eternal Road has some very rough and visceral scenes that almost qualify it for a horror film. Maybe it is this, as well as the directness and overall lack of pathos, that keeps the end from being boring. We also have to remember that the film was made for the 100th anniversary of Finland, so we should undoubtedly see it as Finnish self-reflection and therefore agree with what many Finns, themselves, have said: that fortunately the anniversary brought something more than another look back at the Winter War, because the Finnish story of the last century is much more complicated than just that one event. EF ESTONIAN FILM

35


REVIEW

Two Old Men in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time Two old thieves get out of prison. Markus (Tõnu Kark) and Eduard (Sergei Makovetsky) have been locked up for 20 years and are now ready to meet the world outside of the prison walls. Neither man is bad at heart, they’re just small-time crooks who happened to get caught.

T

hey soon realize after their release that life is much different to how they remember. The year is no longer 1997 but 2017. After some antics, the friends agree on a place to meet later and go their own ways, like a fairy tale. They’re both planning to sort out some unfinished business from their past. Markus goes and tries to get rich, while Eduard decides to find his one-time true love. The film’s two main characters clearly feel that no one needs them anymore. They are rare types, in the wrong place at the wrong time. After being released from prison, they basically find themselves in

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ESTONIAN FILM

Green Cats

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

By Juhan Raud First published in Postimees the future. But they’re not surrounded by flying cars, robots or clones. They’re surrounded by curious things like sleek trams and people lost in their smart phones. In other words, they find themselves in modern Tallinn. And it’s

hard for them to adapt. They don’t feel nostalgic for the past, but clearly they soon start to feel anachronistic in this new time. They’re almost like green cats that don’t exist, and thus they take turns haunting their new present and trying to find their place in it. At the beginning, the story runs smoothly. The actors are great too: Tõnu Kark’s Markus is a powerful figure whose contradictions and charm add a whole new dimension to the film. Director and screenwriter Andres Puustusmaa wrote the role specifically for Kark. The character is warm as well as defiant, proud but also hungry for life, he has foresight but also looks back to his past. Kark moves smoothly between friendly mellowness and tough melancholy. His experience and curiosity intermingle flawlessly. Markus is a paradox: he’s charismatic but also tired. He’s a man who’s seen at once too much and not enough. With all that said, it seems somewhat strange that the film starts with a parable about a bad


scorpion and a naive turtle. It’s a fable with a clear moral: no one ever changes, and everyone remains true to their own nature. Markus has a scorpion tattoo on his hand, but the symbol isn’t carried much further in the film. Kark’s wonderfully played character is controversial and indirect. He has no clear trait that this parable could be referring to – and that’s what makes him so captivating. Markus’s friend Eduard (nicknamed Shtshuka, or the Pike) is a

It’s great watching Tõnu Kark’s trickster character play with the different, opposing sides of himself, playing them against other people. melancholic, slightly aristocratic but warm thief who really underwent a change in prison. Eduard suffers from memory problems (which is where his cruel nickname comes from) and now has to watch his own personality and contact with the world slowly slip away. At first, his ineptitude seems almost sweet, but it soon becomes clear that things are far from funny. And, yet, Sergei Makovetsky plays the character in a way that Eduard’s tragedy is given a silver lining that makes you feel for him all the more. It’s clear that his dignity is the most important thing to Eduard, which makes his attempts to retain it in difficult situations captivating. And yet, the film starts to drag at a certain point – somewhere in the second half. Eduard meanders from episodic scene to episodic scene, becoming almost invisible. And this invisibility is allowing him to be the witness to a lot of very strange situations. But as the film progresses, his adventures seem to have less and less to do with the film as a whole. The viewer watch-

The best part about Green Cats are the performances given by the actors.

es the two main characters’ stories cross at times, but they still remain distant from each other for the better part of the film. The line of causality gets broken and some of Eduard’s scenes could have been edited out without affecting the story much. This kind of aimlessness reflects his mindset, but the script might still have been a bit tighter. At the same time, Markus works on his plan to get rich. He networks in the halfway house that’s appointed as his new home and takes advantage of the political hysterics that accommodating refugees has created. He rebuilds his relationship with his family and happens to meet storeowner Marta (Ülle Kaljuste). The female character honestly doesn’t have much to do in this film even though Kaljuste manages to do rather a lot with the little she’s given. The film is mostly in Russian. It’s great watching Tõnu Kark’s trickster character play with the different, opposing sides of himself, playing them against other

people and sometimes making the world around him take his own strange shape. At times, the present that Markus and Eduard are living in is no longer very recognizable, but that might just depend on the viewer. It’s also possible that Puustusmaa has made Tallinn more exotic to attract the Russian market. For example, Markus’s sweats have a Soviet sports emblem on them (the sweats make sense in the context of the story) but wearing them feels wrong on a subconscious level, as if the main character in the film had gone to prison long before the year 1991. There are other such strange moments in the film, each of which we could justify on their own but that nonetheless have a strange effect when they are all considered together. The script might have been a bit more sensitive in talking about certain societal themes. But, in general, forgoing a few faux pas of style and taste, this is a good film and the best parts about it are the performances given by the actors. EF ESTONIAN FILM

37


REVIEW

3Women

Yearn for Somewhere Warm Director Sulev Keedus is not a man who com­ promises. He starts a new film when the idea of what he wants to say to the world is ripe. He polishes his oeuvre until every last symbol and dialogue is right.

H The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow By Eva Kübar First published in Postimees 38

ESTONIAN FILM

is film The Man­ slayer / The Virgin / The Shadow is comprised of three novellas from three different eras (the 19th century, the spring of 1949 and modern day) and depicts the fate of one woman in each epoch. The end of the 19th century in Estonia is shown in muddy blackand-white. The month is November, drawing an even sharper parallel, in addition to the visuals and theme, to Rainer Sarnet’s November, where even the main roles are played by the same actors.

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

Maara (Rea Lest) is being forced to get married. Her true love, Saska (Jörgen Liik), tries to convince her to escape with him somewhere warm where there are fields of crimson but to no avail. Considering our climate, the dream of a warm place is a constant and seemingly invariable motif in Estonian culture. Of course, nowadays we just buy a ticket and post on Facebook: “Flying from Tallinn to Havana”. But there was neither the way nor the means for Maara to think in those terms. She gets forcibly wrapped in a Seto belt by village women and put through a mighty Seto


The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow consists of three novellas, all three main characters are played by talented young actress Rea Lest.

wedding, teeming with symbolism. The same belt, by the way, becomes a leitmotif in the third story when we see it in the backpack of Luna Lee (Rea Lest) – a modern, lost soul trying to find substance in every encounter. The women in all three novellas are truth seekers; they are strong, spirited rebels who fight to the end even when the system is clearly stronger than they are. “You’re different,” Heino (Risto Vaidla) says to Elina (Rea Lest) in The Virgin, and this “different” is said with respect, not to hint at the woman’s sexual unattractiveness. Heino and Elina are in a fictional marriage to keep Elina from being deported from Estonia. They sleep in different beds and share a roof with other relatives and acquaintances, one of whom (in an existentially different form) is the famous Cuban chess player José Raúl Capablanca (Meelis Rämmeld). The situa-

tion is at once comical and horrific. Include the psychologically broken exhibitionist Luise (Helena Merzin) and we have a company of freaks who perfectly convey the tense atmosphere of the spring of 1949 in Estonia. Outwardly they live their lives, working at the mine, washing their underclothes and peeling onions, but their nerves are taught and every knock on the door might be the devil. No one knows whom to trust. The only thing that actually might help is a game of chess. Chess player Capablanca adds Cuban and hispanic cultural motifs to the film. They are there until the end, though the first mention is a fleeting one in The Man­slayer – Saska wants to take Maara to the fields of crimson, perhaps a refe­ rence to the abundant limestone in Cuba. Dim-witted Raul finally gets a worthy chess partner in The Virgin – one who also has ties to Cuba...

Maara and Elina meet in the third novella’s modern day adolescent Luna Lee, the daughter of a devoutly esoteric mother who thinks children can be raised using the trendy mantras found in self-help books. Elina follows this advice by trying out the “Start your life!” version. As mentioned, all three women are “different” in a good sense. They are witches without knowing it. In any case, all three would have found themselves burned at the stake in the 16th century, though feminism is not a theme in The Man­slayer / The Virgin / The Sha­dow (unlike Sulev Keedus’s previous film Letters to Angel (2011)). Maara, Elina and Luna Lee are somewhat unaffected by most things. Maara isn’t affected by the village witch doctor’s smoke and snake elixir, Elina is unfazed by the authorities and fast-talking men, and Luna Lee remains a skeptical observer of

The women in all three novellas are truth seekers. They are strong, spirited rebels who fight to the end. ESTONIAN FILM

39


REVIEW

the LSD-infused neohippies and their theatrical games. Keedus throws a slew of value systems out with the bathwater in his film. In addition to the aforementioned, we may start doubting the value of constant world travel because we can never be sure that we are actually seeing the things we are photographing. This idea is carried in The Shadow by the character Youssef (Jörgen Liik), who is purportedly Fidel Castro’s son (Castro had 10-20 children). But intellectuality isn’t necessarily the path to truth either. It’s a good, even charming, pretense, like the way Father Teofilos (Tambet Tuisk) spews Spinoza quotes in The Shadow, but ultimately things end up being even more confused. Still, it may be that Teofilos, the “one who loves God”, might have been given the biggest chances of finding truth of all of Keedus’s characters. At least there’s a miracle in the church scene in The Shadow, though whether it comes from witchery or the heavens (or a symbiosis of the two) is for the viewer to decide. As a whole, the second of the three novellas has the most classical narrative structure. But since Keedus has never been particularly focused on narrative, The

40

ESTONIAN FILM

Keedus throws a slew of value systems out with the bathwater in his film. Maara (on the right) and Elina (above) face different prob­ lems about men and marriage.

“You’re different,” Heino (Risto Vaidla) says to Elina (Rea Lest) in The Virgin.

Manslayer and The Shadow are more poetical in form. The final novella, The Shadow, is the densest and most ambivalent in meaning. Keedus uses it to reinforce our direct connections with previous generations, so that everything experienced by Maara and Elina affects Luna Lee. Death follows Luna Lee around in different forms throughout her novella but the girl

is also in contact with the other side and able to weave back and forth between the two worlds (another feature of shamanism/witchcraft). This power might just come from Maara, whose belt the girl carries around in her backpack – for example. But such power also brings fear and guilt. In the end, life is just a stage and we are marionettes on it. But who is controlling us – are we doing it ourselves? In order to feel warmth, do we need to travel to Cuba, or is the human contact at a Seto village party enough? Kee­ dus may not give us the answers, but he does give us a lot to think about. EF


Statistics 2017 2017 CINEMA TOP 10 Original / English title

Admission

BO

Country

1 Despicable Me 3

148 754

705 109

US

2 Pirates of the Caribbean 5

107 068

661 959

US

3 Boss Baby, The

101 772

498 490

US

4 The Dissidents

85 306

480 610

EE/ FI

5 Cars 3

83 356

391 194

US

6 Fast & Furious 8

82 827

484 891

CN / US /JP

7 Swingers

79 346

470 372

EE

8 Fifty Shades Darker

71 045

419 839

US /CN

9 Beauty and the Beast

62 382

355 947

US

54 438

245 456

US

10 Emoji Movie The Dissidents

ESTONIAN FILMS 2017 TOP 5 English title

November

CINEMA ADMISSIONS 3 228 511 2 943 714 2 742 646

2 447 054

2013

77,8

350 635 347 036 282 421

2014 2015

Production

1 The Dissidents

85 306

480 610

Taska Film

2 Swingers

79 346

470 372

Platforma Filma

3 November

46 701

229 916

Homeless Bob Production

4 The Man Who Looks Like Me

28 888

151 819

Kuukulgur Film

5 The End of the Chain

16 470

89 484

Alexandra Film

Other countries USA 2,8

151 398 122 938

BO

MARKET SHARE BY COUNTRIES

Foreign Films Estonian Films 2 407 155

Admission

13,5 5,9

2016

2017

2013

7,4 67,5

Europe Estonia 2,6

5

64

64,3

5,37 4,6

4,9

5,53

5

13 55

22

20,2

24

11,4

10,5

8

2016

2017

20,4 4,7

AVERAGE TICKET PRICE (EUR)

2014 2015

2013

2014 2015

2016

2017

ESTONIAN FILM

41


TALENT NEWS

November

2017

Festival Highlights BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

SHANGHAI INTER­NATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The Trial: The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov (EE/PL/CZ) Director: Askold Kurov Berlinale Special

November (EE/NL/PL) Director: Rainer Sarnet Panorama

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL November (EE/NL/PL ) Director: Rainer Sarnet International Narrative Competition Award - Best Cinematography

42

ESTONIAN FILM

ANNECY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Empty Space (EE) Director: Ülo Pikkov Official Selection –Short Films in Competition

Manivald

Manivald (EE/CR) Director: Chintis Lundgren Official Selection –Short Films in Competition Amalimbo (SE/EE) Director: Juan Pablo Libossart Official Selection –Short Films in Competition Penelope (EE) Director: Heta Jäälinoja Official Selection - Graduation Films


Portugal

INDUSTRY AWARYDS The Man Who Looks LIke Me

Amalimbo

Locarno International Film Festival Portugal Director: Lauri Lagle First Look prize for post production Locarno International Film Festival The Little Comrade Director: Monika Siimets Le Film Français Award

The End of the Chain

LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Scary Mother (GE/EE) Director: Ana Urushadze Concorso Cineasti Award - Best First Feature

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL The Swan (IS/DE/EE) Director: Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir Discovery

SAN SEBASTIAN INTERNA­ TIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Constructing Albert (ES/EE) Directors: Laura Collado, Jim Loomis Culinary Zinema: Film and Gastronomy

BUSAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Confession (GE/EE) Director: Zaza Urushadze World Cinema

WARSAW INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Confession (GE/EE) Director: Zaza Urushadze International Competition

KARLOVY VARY INTERNA­ TIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Mart Taniel

The Man Who Looks Like Me (EE) Directors: Katrin Maimik, Andres Maimik East of the West - Competition

NOMINATIONS

The End of the Chain (EE) Director: Priit Pääsuke East of the West - Competition November (EE/NL/PL) Director: Rainer Sarnet Official Selection - Out of Competition

IDFA Roosenberg (BE/EE) Director: Ingel Vaikla Competition for Student Documentary

CAIRO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL The Man Who Looks Like Me (EE) Directors: Katrin Maimik, Andres Maimik International Panorama The Swan (IS/DE/EE) Director: Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir International Critic’s Week Competition for Feature and Documentary Films. Award - Shadi Abdel Salam Award for Best Film

Mart Taniel Nomination: American Society of Cinematographers’ Spotlight Award for November

Manivald Nomination: European Animation Award for Best Background and Character Design in an Animated Short Film

FOREIGN LANGUAGE OSCAR CANDIDATES Estonia November Director: Rainer Sarnet Production countries: Estonia, The Netherlands, Poland Laos Dearest Sister / Nong Hak Director: Mattie Do Production countries: Laos, Estonia, France Georgia Scary Mother Director: Ana Urushadze Production countries: Georgia, Estonia ESTONIAN FILM

43


NEW FILM

The Little Comrade

O

ne day, six-year-old Leelo’s school teacher mother is taken away by soldiers and the little girl has to find answers to a lot of questions on her own: why is the blue-black-white flag forbidden, what’s a traitor, why is a scary NKVD detective snooping around in their home and is being a Soviet Pioneer a thing of honor or shame? Through frequently tragicomic situations, Leelo tries to be as good a girl as she can in the two-faced, Stalinist world around her so that her mother will one day come back home. DIRECTOR MOONIKA SIIMETS is a talented young Estonian director

and scriptwriter. She graduated from the Baltic Film and Media School of Tallinn University and attended Judith Weston’s scriptwriting and directing master classes in Los Angeles. She has directed multi-award-winning documentaries, TV series, and short films, including Is it You? (2013), which screened at Stockholm Film Festival, The Last Romeo (2013), and Pink Cardigan (2014). Her documentary credits include Report: Green Estonia (2007), World Champion (2009), Another Dimension (2012), Trendy Dog (2010) and Another Dimension (2012). The Little Comrade, made in the frame of the Estonian centennial film programme, is her full-length feature debut.

FILM INFO Original title: Seltsimees laps Genre: family, historical drama Language: Estonian Director: Moonika Siimets Screenwriter: Moonika Siimets Cinematographer: Rein Kotov, E.S.C. Main Cast: Tambet Tuisk, Helena Maria Reisner, Yulia Aug, Eva Koldits, Liina Vahtrik, Juhan Ulfsak, Lembit Peterson, Maria Klenskaja Art Director: Jaagup Roomet Sound design: Matis Rei Composer: Tõnu Kõrvits Editor: Tambet Tasuja Producer: Riina Sildos Produced by: Amrion (Estonia) To be released: March 23, 2018 100 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Amrion Riina Sildos Phone: +372 677 6363 E-mail: info@amrion.ee www.amrion.ee

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ESTONIAN FILM


Class Reunion 2: A Wedding and a Funeral

T

he sequel to one of the most loved Estonian comedy films Class Reunion 2: A Wedding and a Funeral sees the return of the three high-school friends Mart, Andres and Toomas. This time they are planning a memorable stag party for Toomas, but due to unexpected turn of events end up at a funeral instead. Even though the men have finally embraced their midlife crisis, they are still tirelessly and passionately trying to surf the waves of life. How to retain your sex appeal while your new album is being trashed by the media? How to move on when you discover that your spouse has cheated on you? How to make yourself desirable to the opposite sex again, after being turned down on numerous occasions? Will there be a wedding, who is going to kick the bucket, will Mart be able to save his marriage, and will Andres ever find happiness?

DIRECTOR RENE VILBRE has directed different TV shows, commercials, documentaries, short and fiction films. Selected Filmography: Short film Another (for ARTE, Grand Prix at the Cinessone Film Festival, France 2006), more than 10 international festivals; feature film Mat The Cat (Children & Youth Film Prize of the Nordic Film Institutes, 47. Nordische Filmtage Lübeck 2005), more than 15 international festivals; feature I Was Here, international premiere at Karlovy Vary IFF 2008 (Moscow International Festival of Detective films, Winner in category “Crime and Punishment”, The Year’s Best Film by The Cultural Endowment of Estonia, more than 15 international festivals all over the world); Kid Detectives & The Secret of the White Lady (2013).

FILM INFO Original title: Klassikokkutulek 2: pulmad ja matused Genre: comedy Language: Estonian Director: René Vilbre Screenwriters: Lars Mering, Claudia Boderke, Martin Algus Cinematographer: Mihkel Soe E.S.C. Art Director: Anni Lindal Main cast: Mait Malmsten, Henry Kõrvits, Ago Anderson Editor: Tambet Tasuja Producers: Kristian Taska, Evelin Penttilä Executive Producers: René Erza, Tomas Radoor, Ilkka Matila Produced by: Taska Film Domestic premiere: February 16, 2018 90 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Taska Film Kristian Taska Phone: +372 520 3000 E-mail: film@taska.ee www.taska.ee

ESTONIAN FILM

45


NEW FILM

The Manslayer The Virgin / The Shadow

T

he film consists of three chapters. The Manslayer takes place in the end of 19th century. The leading character Maara is a young bride who is about to start her life in her new family. The Virgin, set in the spring of 1949, tells the story of a young woman called Elina, who has been deported from Ingria into Estonia during the previous war. The Shadow takes place in the present, on the border of real life and fantasy. The main character Luna Lee has decided to flee from home. Is there anything besides emptiness somewhere? The film is led by the singularity of the leading character – Maara, Elina and Luna Lee are all played by the same actress.

DIRECTOR SULEV KEEDUS completed the Higher Courses for Directors and Scriptwriters in Moscow in 1989. Since 1981 he has been a freelance director and has produced 5 features and 15 documentaries. Selected Filmography: In Paradisum (documentary, 1993) Georgica (feature, 1998) Somnabulance (feature, 2003) Jonathan from Australia (documentary, 2007) Letters to Angel (feature, 2011) The Russians on Crow Island (documentary, 2012) War (documentary, 2017)

FILM INFO Original title: Mehetapja / Süütu / Vari Genre: drama Languages: Estonian, Spanish, French Director: Sulev Keedus Screenwriters: Sulev Keedus, Madis Kõiv Cinematographers: Erik Põllumaa E.S.C., Ivar Taim Main cast: Rea Lest Art Director: Toomas Hõrak, Anna-Liisa Liiver Sound design: Saulius Urbanavicius Composer: Martynas Bialobžeskis Editor: Kaie-Ene Rääk Producer: Kaie-Ene Rääk Co-producer: Rasa Miskinyte Produced by: F-Seitse (Estonia), Era Film (Lithuania) World premiere: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2017 - Official Selection 141 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / Dolby Digital CONTACT Antipode Sales and Distribution Elena Podolskaya Phone: +791 6604 5884 E-mail: elena@antipode-sales.biz www.antipode-sales.biz/

46

ESTONIAN FILM


Green Cats

FILM INFO

T

he story of two old folks, Markus and Eduard, who have spent the most time of their lives behind prison walls. From a young age they have revolved in circles around thieves and other rouges. State robberies and frauds have led men to long periods of punishment from Soviet Estonia until nowadays Europe Estonia. Now, the seventy-year-old men have been granted amnesty. Both have a passionate desire to change their lives and plan their life in freedom. Once liberated, they soon realise the world has changed and they do not fit in anymore. DIRECTOR ANDRES PUUSTUSMAA is an Estonian director and actor. In 1994 he graduated from The Drama School of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and started working in the Estonian Drama Theatre. In 2002 he moved to Moscow to study directing at the Moscow

Andres Puustusmaa

Film Institute (VGIK). Since 2004 he has worked as a director on feature films and TV-series both in Estonia and Russia. Selected Filmography: 18-14 (2007) Red Pearl of Love (2008) Rat Trap (2011) In Warsaw (2016)

Original Title: Rohelised kassid Genre: drama, comedy Languages: Estonian, Russian, English Director: Andres Puustusmaa Screenwriter: Andres Puustusmaa Cinematographer: Pavel Emilin Art Director: Martin Mikson Main cast: TĂľnu Kark, Sergey Makovetskiy, Mait Malmsten, Kirill Kyaro, Ăœlle Kaljuste Composer: Priit Pajusaar Editor: Andreas Lenk Producer: Katerina Monastyrskaya Produced by: Leo Production World premiere: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2017 105 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Leo Production Katerina Monastyrskaya Phone: +372 5829 7356 Email: katimons@gmail.com www.leo-production.eu

ESTONIAN FILM

47


NEW FILM

FILM INFO

The Eternal Road

B

ased on true events, The Eternal Road is an epic story of one man’s struggle for survival. Jussi Ketola returns to Finland from the great depression that struck America only to face growing political unrest. One summer night of 1930s, nationalist thugs violently abduct Ketola from his home. Beaten and forced to walk the Eternal Road to Soviet Union, where cruelty seems to know no end, his only dream is to return to his family at any cost. Hope dies last. DIRECTOR AJ ANNILA is an award-winning director from Finland, who is best known for his unique and unprejudiced choice of topics. His first feature Jade Warrior (2006) was a martial art adventure and the first Finnish film to get a theatrical release in China. His sec-

AJ Annila

ond feature Sauna (2008), a psychological horror film, was awarded at a number of international film festivals and was nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize.

Original title: Ikitie Genre: drama Languages: Finnish, English, Russian Director: AJ Annila Screenwriters: Antti Tuuri (novel), AJ Annila, Aku Louhimies Cinematographer: Rauno Ronkainen Art Director: Kalju Kivi Main cast: Tommi Korpela, Sidse Babett Knudsen, HP Björkman, Sampo Sarkola, Irina Björklund Sound: Fredrik Dalenfjäll Editor: Tambet Tasuja Producer: Ilkka Matila Co-producers: Kristian Taska, Martin Persson, Gunnar Carlsson Produced by: MRP Matila Röhr Production Oy (Finland), Taska Film (Estonia), Anagram (Sweden) World premiere: Helsinki International Film Festival Love & Anarchy 2017 Festivals: Tallinn Black Nights FF, Santa Barbara IFF 104 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / Dolby Digital CONTACT MRP Matila Röhr Production Oy Ilkka Matila Phone: +358 40 501 1025 E-mail: ilkka.matila@matilarohr.com www.matilarohr.com SALES TrustNordisk Susan Wendt Phone: +45 6029 8466 E-mail: susan@trustnordisk.com www.trustnordisk.com

48

ESTONIAN FILM


Rodeo

I

t is 1992 and the first free elections held in Estonia since World War II have to the surprise of all brought to power young and idealistic political forces. They are led by 32-year-old Mart Laar, Europe’s youngest prime minister, who is charged with crafting a country out of chaos. This is a story about gaining and losing trust, about the widening conflict between idealists and a rising economic elite, when a prime minister’s good options grow fewer by the day. DIRECTOR RAIMO JÕERAND is a freelance screenwriter and documentary director, mainly focused on historical

FILM INFO topics, among them The Blue Hills (2006), with Kiur Aarma. 2006 - 2013 he worked as development and documentary consultant at Estonian Film Institute. DIRECTOR KIUR AARMA has studied semiotics, journalism, and scriptwriting at the University of Tartu and at the Baltic Film and Media School in Tallinn. He has over the past 15 years worked as an author, producer, and co-director of multiple internationally acclaimed documentary films, including Disco and Atomic War (2006), Lotman’s World (2008) andThe Gold Spinners (2013).

Original title: Rodeo Languages: Estonian, English, Russian, Swedish, Finnish Directors: Raimo Jõerand, Kiur Aarma Screenwriters: Raimo Jõerand, Kiur Aarma Cinematographer: Manfred Vainokivi Editor: Matti Näränen Composer: Ardo Ran Varres Sound: Horret Kuus Producer: Kiur Aarma Co-producer: Ari Matikainen Produced by: Traumfabrik (Estonia), Kinocompany (Finland) World premiere: January 29, 2018, DocPoint Helsinki 74 min / DCP / 16:9 / stereo CONTACT Traumfabrik Kiur Aarma Phone: +3725651560 E-mail: kiur.aarma@gmail.com

ESTONIAN FILM

49


NEW FILM

Ahto. Chasing a Dream

O

n a sunny day in November 1938 a magnificent white schooner set sail from Greenwich with 14 people on board. Among other wealthy passengers from US, Canada and England there is also a young an Estonian Captain Ahto Valter, his Scottish-American wife and their 1,5 years old son Teddy “Baby in cage” Valter. With a crew of adventurers chosen from 5,000 applicants in the United States, ketch Ahto starts a memorable and adventurous voyage around a world, flying the Estonian flag. Voyage that lasted 18 months and was full of happiness, love and joy, but also betrayal and war. After arriving from a long trip back to America Ahto founds out that world he left 1,5 years ago is not the same anymore - he can’t return to homeland Estonia never again... This colorful journey around the world will open to us thanks to Ahto’s diary and unique footage that was shot during

50

ESTONIAN FILM

Jaanis Valk

the trip. A dramatic story of a man who overcomes a mutiny on a ship, accidents at sea, headwind, reefs and the beginning of a World War II. Everything to fulfill his dream. DIRECTOR JAANIS VALK has a Master of Arts in Film Arts and has directed three short fiction films and several short documentaries. Some of his previous works include Call of the Heart. Inna Taarna, The Pharmacist, From Side to Side. Ahto. Chasing a Dream is his first full-length documentary.

FILM INFO Original title: Ahto. Unistuste jaht. Languages: English, Estonian Director: Jaanis Valk Screenwriters: Jaanis Valk, Anto Juske Cinematographer: Erik Norkroos Editors: Kersti Miilen, Erik Norkroos Producer: Erik Norkroos Produced by: Missing Pictures Rühm Pluss Null (Estonia) To be released: March 8, 2018 94 min / HD / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Rühm Pluss Null Erik Norkroos Phone: +372 680 5640 E-mail: erik.norkroos@gmail.com www.ahtofilm.ee


War

I

n a Christian culture, suicide is a taboo, and a soldier’s suicide is a double taboo. Rivo, who has been on a military mission to Afghanistan twice, suffers from a post-traumatic disorder, which ends in suicide. For four years, Rivo’s girlfriend Hanna tries to battle his psychological disorder, but then gives up and moves from Estonia to Australia. One year later Rivo steps in front of a train. His last message to those who know him is to forgive him. Who is a (professional) soldier in today’s world? How does he cross the Bridge of Death? Does he have to sacrifice himself for the chain of command in order to participate in situations where none of what he was taught in childhood applies anymore? Where do you draw the line between justified and unjustified suffering? Euphemisms may not work on a personal level. The glorification of war has aggravating, not alleviating effects. War is a story about a peacekeeper, who after having returned from a mission could

FILM INFO not come to terms with his life anymore, with the life between the present and the eternity. The documentary was filmed in Afghanistan and Australia. DIRECTOR SULEV KEEDUS completed the Higher Courses for Directors and Scriptwriters in Moscow in 1989. Since 1981 he has been a freelance director and has produced 5 features and 15 documentaries. Selected Filmography: In Paradisum (documentary, 1993) Georgica (feature, 1998) Somnabulance (feature, 2003) Jonathan from Australia (documentary, 2007) Letters to Angel (feature, 2011) The Russians on Crow Island (documentary, 2012) The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow (2017)

Original title: Sõda Languages: Estonian, English Director: Sulev Keedus Screenwriter: Sulev Keedus Cinematographer: Sulev Keedus Sound: Anna-Liisa Liiskmaa, Erle Vaher, Mart Kessel-Otsa, Harmo Kallaste Editor: Kaie-Ene Rääk Producer: Kaie-Ene Rääk Produced by: F-Seitse International premiere: Nordische Filmtage Lübeck 2017 55 min / DCP / 16:9 / 3.0 CONTACT F-Seitse, Kaie-Ene Rääk Phone: +372 5648 8902 E-mail: kaie@fseitse.ee www.fseitse.ee

ESTONIAN FILM

51


NEW FILM

Roosenberg

FILM INFO

R

oosenberg is a place, a space, a building, a film. Roosenberg is Amanda, Godelieve, Rosa and Trees. Roosenberg is a letter that tells of an encounter with four elderly nuns in a fascinating abbey in Belgium. The every day communal life of four sisters, their religious practice and final departure from the building tells the story of modernist architecture. It is a memory, a story of a space at the beginning of the end. DIRECTOR INGEL VAIKLA is a visual artist and filmmaker from Estonia, currently based in Belgium. She studied photography in Estonian Academy of Fine Arts (BA) and film in Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Gent (MA). In her work she questions the relationship between architecture and its users, and the representation of architecture in camera based mediums. Ingel was part of the team representing Estonia at the

52

ESTONIAN FILM

Ingel Vaikla

2012 Venice Architecture Biennale with a contribution titled How Long is the Life of a Building? Ingel has been curating film programmes for Tallinn Photo Month Biennale and for the International Interior Architecture Symposium SISU. Her documentary film The House Guard (2015) has been screened at numerous international film festivals and exhibitions. She recently finished her latest film Roosenberg that speaks of the author’s encounter with a fascinating modernist monastery in Belgium designed by monk architect Dom Hans van der Laan.

Original title: Roosenberg Director: Ingel Vaikla Screenwriter: Ingel Vaikla Cinematographer: Ingel Vaikla Sound design: Simonluca Laitempergher Editor: Olivia Degrez, Ingel Vaikla Producer: Ingel Vaikla Produced by: Ingel Vaikla / Vaikla Studio World premiere: IDFA 2017 Festivals: MĂ ntica Theatre Festival, Exhibition at deSingel Architecture Gallery, Docpoint Tallinn 2018 29 min / HD / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Vaikla Studio, Ingel Vaikla Phone: +372 5691 2772 ingel.vaikla@gmail.com www.vaiklastudio.ee


14 Cases

FILM INFO

F

ilmed over three years, 14 Cases follows different age Estonian Russians who are struggling with their identities but desperately wish to be integrated into the modern society. Russian-speaking families in a decision-making period. DIRECTOR MARIANNA KAAT Graduated from the St. Petersburg State Arts Academy in 1986. Until 1991 she worked as a script editor and a director for Eesti Telefilm and thereafter as the acquisition manager for Estonian Television. In 1998 she founded her own production company Baltic Film Production and since then has produced and directed documentaries, features and TV series.

Marianna Kaat

Selected Filmography: The Last Phantoms (2006) Pit No. 8 (2010) A Working Title Wunderkind (2012) Underground (2015)

Original title: 14 käänet Languages: Estonian, Russian Director: Marianna Kaat Screenwriter: Marianna Kaat Cinematographer: Rein Kotov E.S.C. Camera: Max Golomidov Sound design: Tiina Andreas Music: Frenetic Virtual Orchestra Editor: Kadri Kanter Producer: Marianna Kaat Produced by: Baltic Film Production Estonian premiere: September 28, 2017 83 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Baltic Film Production Marianna Kaat Phone: +372 502 7509 E-mail: info@bfp.ee www.bfp.ee SALES Antipode Sales and Distribution Julia Kuzischina Phone: +792 6306 6651 E-mail: julia@antipode-sales.biz www.antipode-sales.biz

ESTONIAN FILM

53


NEW FILM

FILM INFO

Constructing Albert

T

he most important culinary revolution of modern times took place at elBulli, a restaurant in a remote cove on the Catalan coast. Ferran Adrià is the famous maestro people know, but behind elBulli’s success was also a hidden genius: Albert, Ferran’s younger brother. Four years after closing of elBulli, Albert has decided to become master of his own world, building 5 unique restaurants in the centre of Barcelona. Enigma, the jewel in the crown of this gastronomic empire, will prove to be his greatest hurdle. Will Albert escape the shadow of his famous brother and enter the Pantheon of great chefs? DIRECTOR LAURA COLLADO has a degree in Journalism and a passion for storytelling, Laura founded Trueday Films in 2012 to develop and produce gripping and entertaining stories. Constructing Albert is Laura’s debut as a director.

DIRECTOR JIM LOOMIS Graduated with honours in Film and Television from Napier University in Edinburgh. Jim has been working in documentary for more than twelve years. His credits as DOP and editor include films produced for broadcasters such as BBC, DK, ARTE, Al Jazeera International, CNN, TVC and TVE - I Will be Murdered (2013), Colgados de un sueño (2012), Life from others (2012), Ferran Adrià Revealed (2010) to name a few.

Original title: Constructing Albert Languages: Catalan, Spanish, English Directors: Laura Collado, Jim Loomis Screenwriters: Laura Collado, Jim Loomis Cinematographer: Jim Loomis Composer: Arian Levin Sound design: Horret Kuus Editor: Jim Loomis Producer: Laura Collado Co-producers: Marianne Ostrat, Muntsa Tarrés Produced by: Trueday Films (Spain), Alexandra Film (Estonia), Televisió de Catalunya (Spain) World premiere: San Sebastian International Film Festival 2017 - Culinary Zinema: Film & Gastronomy Festivals: Napa Valley FF, Palm Springs IFF, Docpoint Tallinn 82 min / DCP / 2.35:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Alexandra Film Marianne Ostrat Phone: +372 523 3577 E-mail: marianne@alexandrafilm.ee DISTRIBUTION NORTH AMERICA Juno Films Elizabeth Sheldon Phone: +1 609 9331806 E-mail: elizabeth@junofilms.com www.junofilms.com SALES - REST OF THE WORLD Wide House Elise Cochin Phone: +33 670 0056 46 E-mail: ec@widehouse.org www.widehouse.org

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ESTONIAN FILM


Mary and 7 Dwarfs

H

aving spent her whole life inside the nunnery, an old and dignified nun Maria has determined to fulfill her youth fantasy. The only problem there seems to be her incomplete, almost non-existent memory. Maria is afraid that her youth fantasy might prove to be a sin. DIRECTOR RIHO UNT has graduated from Estonian State Institute of Arts in 1982 as interior designer. Since then he has worked in Nukufilm studio as a director. His films have won a number of awards at animation festivals. Selected Filmography: Brothers Bearhearts (2005) Miriam and the Flood (2006)

Riho Unt

Happy Birthday (2012) Miriam’s Kite (2013) The Master (2015) Miriam by the Lake (2017)

FILM INFO Original title: Maria ja 7 pöialpoissi Language: Estonian Director: Riho Unt Screenwriter: Riho Unt Animators: Triin Sarapik-Kivi, Olga Bulgakova Editors: Riho Unt, Sergei Kibus Sound design/mixing: Horret Kuus / B6 Studio Tehnique: Puppet animation Producer: Kerdi Oengo Produced by: Nukufilm World premiere: PÖFF Shorts 2017, Tallinn 13 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Nukufilm Kerdi Oengo Phone: +372 615 5322 E-mail: nukufilm@nukufilm.ee www.nukufilm.ee

ESTONIAN FILM

55


NEW FILM

Letting Go

FILM INFO

S

tory about a young girl from an orphanage who wants to let go of the shadows that haunt her past.

DIRECTOR ÜLO PIKKOV is an internationally renowned filmmaker, producer and film scholar. Since 1996 Pikkov has directed several award-winning animation films (Empty Space, Tik-Tak, Body Memory, The End, Dialogos). He has published articles on film and written fiction books for children and adults. Currently Pikkov is completing his doctoral studies at the Estonian Academy of Arts.

Ülo Pikkov

Original title: Lahtilaskmise lugu Director: Ülo Pikkov Screenwriter: Ülo Pikkov Animators: Marili Sokk, Triin Sarapik-Kivi Editor: Ülo Pikkov Composers: Andrea Martignoni, Amos Cappuccio Sound design/mixing: Andrea Martignoni, Amos Cappuccio Tehnique: stop motion animation Producer: Ülo Pikkov Co-producer: Michelle Kranot Produced by: Silmviburlane World premiere: PÖFF Shorts 2017 Festivals: Animateka International Animated Film Festival, Fredrikstad Animation Festival, Piccolo Festival Animazione 11 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Silmviburlane Ülo Pikkov Phone: +372 5648 4693 E-mail: info@silmviburlane.ee www.silmviburlane.ee SALES Picture Tree International Phone: +49(0) 304 208 2480 pti@picturetree-international.com www.picturetree-international.com

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FILM INFO

Manivald

M

anivald is still living at home with his retired mother. The day before his 33. birthday a young hot wolf called Toomas comes to fix their washing machine. A love triangle develops, which leaves Manivald more and more frustrated. DIRECTOR CHINTIS LUNDGREN is an Estonian animation director. She started in 2008 as an independent author and since 2011 she runs her own animation studio called Chintis Lundgreni Animatsioonistuudio. She is also a co-founder of Adriatic Animation, a new animation studio based in Croatia.

Chintis Lundgren

Selected Filmography: The Great Grey Shrike (2009) About the Hard Life of the Barn Swallow (2011) Mysterious Swamp (2013) Life with Herman H. Rott (2015)

Original title: Manivald Languages: English, Estonian Director: Chintis Lundgren Screenwriters: Chintis Lundgren, Draško Ivezic Animators: Chintis Lundgren, Draško Ivezic, Darko Vidackovic, Mia Murat Editors: Chintis Lundgren, Jelena Popovic Composer: Terence James Dunn Sound design: Pierre Yves Drapeau Tehnique: Hand-drawn animation Producer: Chintis Lundgren Co-producers: Draško Ivezic, Jelena Popovic Produced by: Chintis Lundgreni Animatsioonistuudio (Estonia), Adriatic Animation (Croatia), NFB (Canada) World premiere: Animafest Zagreb Festivals: Annecy IAFF, Palm Springs International Shortfest, Sundance FF, Clermont Ferrand Short Film Festival 13 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / Stereo CONTACT Chintis Lundgreni Animatsioonistuudio Chintis Lundgren Phone: +372 5193 0739 E-mail: chintis.lundgren@gmail.com www.chintislundgren.com SALES New Europe Film Sales Marcin Łuczaj Phone: +48 88 211 9890 E-mail: marcin@neweuropefilmsales.com www.neweuropefilmsales.com

ESTONIAN FILM

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NEW FILM

The Christmas Mystery

T

he Christmas Mystery is a black comedy about a student Jass, who earns extra income by impersonating Santa. Behind one of the doors is a lone woman who reads him poetry and offers whiskey. Jass realizes all of a sudden that he’s been drawn into a bizarre sex game with the woman, but being a polite young man, he has a hard time saying “no”. In that moment the easy side job turns into a surreal dream for the young man.

University with a degree in directing documentaries. He has worked as a journalist, Film director and editor, scriptwriter and copywriter.

DIRECTOR ANDRES MAIMIK studied at Tartu Art College and the Estonian Institute of Humanities. He graduated in 2009 from Tallinn Pedagogical

Their two co-written and co-directed fulllength feature films Cherry Tobacco (2014) and The Man Who Looks Like Me (2017) premiered at Karlovy Vary IFF.

DIRECTOR KATRIN MAIMIK is a director and screenwriter. Katrin received a bachelor’s degree in dramatic theory from the University of Tartu in 2005 and an MA in scriptwriting from Tallinn University’s Baltic Film and Media School in 2013.

FILM INFO Original title: Jõulumüsteerium Genre: drama, comedy Language: Estonian Directors: Andres Maimik, Katrin Maimik Screenwriters: Andres Maimik, Katrin Maimik Cinematographer: Mihkel Soe E.S.C. Art Director: Katrin Sipelgas Main cast: Maria Avdjushko, Markus Habakukk Sound design: Sven Sosnitski, Quartal Studio Editors: Andres Maimik, Helis Hirve Producer: Maario Masing Produced by: Kuukulgur Film Domestic premiere: January 12, 2018 20 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT: Kuukulgur Film Katrin Maimik Phone: +372 5650 2721 E-mail: katrin@kuukulgur.ee www.kuukulgur.ee

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Estonian film 2018/ 01  

ESTONIAN FILM is a magazine of news, reviews, articles, interviews and everything else regarding Estonian films. Estonian Film is published...

Estonian film 2018/ 01  

ESTONIAN FILM is a magazine of news, reviews, articles, interviews and everything else regarding Estonian films. Estonian Film is published...

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