Estonian Film 2018 / 2

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Lauri Lagle on Portugal

Kaspar Jancis

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen

Aet Laigu

Discovering Talents

Esko Rips

A Producer on the Move FEATURED FILMS: The Little Comrade I Portugal Fire Lily I Captain Morten and The Spider Queen Roots I Bridges of Time I Ahto. Chasing A Dream




The beginning of the year has seen a historic change in Estonian film – by the end of April, the admission for Estonian films in cinemas had already reached 350 000, meaning the market share for Estonian films has grown to 30%. This was also noticed by decision makers – Estonian film financing will get an increase of 1 million euros per year for the next four years. The Estonian Republic 100 Film Programme has served its purpose and our production volume has grown immensely. We started releasing the centenary films in March with the period-drama The Little Comrade, by talented first-time feature director Moonika Siimets. After the first four weeks in cinemas, the film had already gathered more than 100 000 admissions.

Our production volume has grown immensely. This year, 10 Estonian features will be premiered. In April, Lauri Lagle’s debut feature Portugal was released, marking the continuing attachment to art-house films in Estonia. Portugal is hardly limited to Estonia - it is an original examination of the contemporary life of a modern woman. Another drama about a woman’s inner journey, Maria Avdjushko’s directorial debut Fire Lily, will premiere domestically in May. Both films will have their market screenings in Cannes. The brand new feature animation Captain Morten and the Spider Queen will premiere in Zagreb. Morten, a salute to Estonian animation traditions, is a puppet animation for the entire family. Apart from animation and features, we also put a focus on documentary films. The Estonian Republic 100 documentary Roots, by six female directors, tells six very personal stories about first love, the loss of a child, ageing, infidelity and fragile relationships with close ones. At the moment, two fresh Estonian documentaries are travelling the world. Kiur Aarma and Raimo Jõerand’s Rodeo was released at HotDocs in Toronto and also had impressive cinema admissions in Estonia. The story is about Estonia’s first free elections in 1992. Jaanis Valk’s Ahto – Chasing a Dream, a film about a memorable and adventurous voyage around the world at the end of thirties also had box-office success in Estonia. And a variety of modern and older Estonian documentaries will screen in special programmes at Krakow and Karlovy Vary film festivals. Watch out for Estonian films in 2018!

Edith Sepp, CEO of Estonian Film Institute

Content 4

NEWS Truth & Justice


IN FOCUS Lauri Lagle – Love, Longing & Criticism


TALENT Margus Prangel

10 PRODUCER Aet Laigu - Strong

Female Point of View

12 TALENT Ingrid Isotamm

6 12

14 COVER STORY Kaspar Jancis.

A Jack of All Tales

21 NEWS News from the Animated World 22 NEWS Winners of the Estonian Film

and Television Awards 2018

25 NEWS ASC Award for Mart Taniel 26 PRODUCER Esko Rips – A Producer

on the Move

28 EVENT Tallinn Hosted ACE Annual



30 IN FOCUS Rein Kotov

The Man Behind the Camera

34 EVENT Black is the New Balck 36 EVENT Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event 38 NEWS Mihkel – The Crazy 90’s 39 NEWS Estonia 100 Celebrations 40 DOCS The Groundbreaking New Wave 42 DOCS Roots 44 REVIEW Ahto. Chasing a Dream 47 REVIEW The Little Comrade

Through a Child’s Eyes

50 NEW FILMS The overview of the latest

Estonian films


Estonian Film is published three times per year by Estonian Film Institute Estonian Film Institute Uus 3, 10111, Tallinn, Estonia Phone: +372 627 6060 I E-mail: I Editor in Chief: Eda Koppel Contributing Editor: Maria Ulfsak (Eesti Ekspress) Contributors: Sigrid Saag, Johnnes Lõhmus, Translation: Lili Pilt Linguistic Editing: David Edwards Design & Layout: Profimeedia Printed in Adverts Cover: Kaspar Jancis, photo by Viktor Koshkin ESTONIAN FILM


Watch Out for Estonian Films



Truth & Justice

Will Reach Screens in February 2019

This summer will see the last leg of the shooting period for one of the most eagerly an­ ticipated films of the Estonia 100 film competition, Truth and Justice. The film is directed by Tanel Toom and produced by Ivo Felt of Allfilm, and takes place over several decades. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Allfilm


he shooting period started in April 2017 and will last until August 2018 for a total of 72 shooting days. Truth and Justice is based on Anton Hansen Tammsaare’s pentalogy of novels by the same title, which are classics in the Estonian literary canon. The film adaptation will premiere in February 2019 for the Republic of Estonia’s 101st Anniversary. The film has a budget of 2.5 million euros. Producer Ivo Felt commented on this large-scale project for Estonian Film: “A man’s quest for his ideals



could end up being the end of him. As you slave away in the prospect of a happier life, you might find yourself forgetting the welfare of your loved ones and your original goals and slowly turn bitter instead. Man versus the land, his family, his relationships and questions of morality – those are the universal themes that will make the audience think as they watch this adaptation of one of our most important novels, Truth and Justice.” According to Felt, the film is spectacular and engaging, and though it touches on serious themes itdoesn’t lack a comical note. He also says that even though Truth

The events of Thuth and Justice take place over several decades.

and Justice is a very seminal film adaptation for Estonians, it is no doubt also the type of drama that will be watched all around the world. The main character of Truth and Justice is the young and energetic Andres. Together with his wife, Krõõt, he arrives at the new farm he bought on credit to establish their new life. Their new home, Robber’s Rise, must become a place that takes care of the family. The household needs a lot of work and endurance – his battle with nature, fate and his spiteful neighbor, Pearu, begins.

When life deals the man more suffering than his long-expected successes, he desperately searches for truth and justice – from the courts, the tavern and the Bible – sacrificing his family, friends and eventually himself in the process. His dream of a prosperous and nurturing Robber’s Rise falls deeper and deeper into the shadow of reality. The film stars Priit Loog, Priit Võigemast, Maiken Schmidt, Simeoni Sundja, and Ester Kuntu. The director and screenwriter of Truth and Justice is Tanel Toom, the cin-

Director Tanel Toom and his crew on the set.

ematographer is Rein Kotov and the production designer is Jaagup Roomet. The film is co-produced by Madis Tüür and Armin Karu. Producer Ivo Felt admits that making Truth and Justice has been quite complicated. “A large ensemble of actors, an epic, historical drama, no lack of children, animals, difficult shooting locations and sets – we have found ourselves fighting against the land just like the characters in the film. For something of this scale, our 2.5 million euro budget is tiny. At the moment, we are finishing up the shooting period and post-production is already underway,” Felt adds. EF





Longing & Criticism

An interiew with theatre director and actor Lauri Lagle (37), whose directorial debut in filmmaking, the drama Portugal, premiered in Estonian cinemas this spring. By Meelis Oidsalu. First published in Eesti Ekspress Photo by Virge Viertek


auri Lagle is one of the few “total authors” in Estonian theatre - the type of director who creates a uniquely singular atmosphere on stage, whose methods praise authenticity over mastery and whose failures can thus be more interesting than another director’s masterpiece. His theatrical work mixes a dreamy lightness with the weight of wakefulness.



He is brave enough to look inside things that seem so mundane, so obvious that we don’t think about them, don’t notice them, or forget how to perceive them. Lagle’s most well-known film role to date is the main character in Veiko Õunpuu’s Free Range (2013) where his portrayal of Fred turned a new page in the catalogue of Estonian film characters. We saw for the first time a representative of Jean Twenge’s 2006 book Generation Me - a

young person who is equally narcissistic and thirsty for total egalitarianism. You are known as a theatre director and actor. In the spring of 2018, your first feature film as a film director, Portugal, will premiere. Why did you decide to direct a film and why was it Portugal?

The initial impulse for Portugal came from the Portuguese word ‘saudade’. Put simply, it means an immense longing for a feeling that people have yet to feel, something that might not even exist, something that doesn’t exist in the present. That same longing is the origin of the Portuguese melancholic love songs called fados. The characters in the film are looking for

Lagle on the set of Free Range with his co-star Laura Peterson.

Does working as a director break you down and how do you recover? What are you doing when you’re not creating?

I live a regular life and my recovery comes through any other activity. Acting in other people’s work is also a way to rest from directing. How did you end up acting in films? How did Veiko Õunpuu find you?

Õunpuu came to watch my play (Untitled)

Director Veiko Õunpuu (on the left) and Lagle as Fred on the set of Free Range.

at the NO99 theatre and we met at the premiere party. He said he’d been looking for someone for Free Range and asked if I wanted to play Fred. I liked his approach. He got a sense for me through my play, tried to understand how I perceived the world and understand my thoughts, and then he made his decision. I trusted his process more because it wasn’t just casting solely through looking at external characteristics. I find Õunpuu’s directing process to


Actor and director Lauri Lagle.

that indescribable, passionate, Portuguese feeling here in Estonia. So, yes, the film is set in Estonia. We had to do a lot of searching to find our own “Portugal” in Estonia. We filmed in cities and on the beach, in Western Estonia and in the East. Are you ready to reveal what the film is about?

The film is about love and the changing phases of love. About the ways the characters manage adapting to change when their centre of balance is off. The characters are looking for the point of love and understanding in the world. They all have the same goal – finding happiness. That’s a process where you have to observe the changing phases of your heart.

is best described with the words curiosity and empathy, both in life and his work. He is equally warm and understanding towards both his partners on the film crew, as well as the characters he creates – no matter how much they may differ from him as professionals or people. Lauri sees these situations as learning opportunities because he is not afraid to trust life and grow, ask for advice, or show that he’s inexperienced. It is trust in your actors and crew that turns a set into a safe place to open up and bloom, and that becomes a driving force. Lauri says very little but does so with precision. Every tiny piece of description and dialogue in his script is very precisely positioned to portray the exact feeling that the director is aiming for. As he gives direction to his actors, the cinematographer or his other colleagues, he chooses his words with a calm assurance. Not using excessive words to describe things allows curiosity to flourish and opens up the vastness of the world. Lauri’s sincere and honest world­ view shines through his directing of plays and his first feature film Portu-

gal, which received its first international accolade as a rough cut screened at the Locarno International Film Festival last summer, where it won the First Look Award. “For its modern and fresh view of the world,” the jury decision states. And I agree. But I would also add that such a viewpoint is a very necessary one. Tiina Savi, Producer of Portugal ESTONIAN FILM



Actress Mirtel Pohla plays the lead character Karina in Portugal.

Lauri Lagle on the set of Veiko Õunpuu’s Roukli and his own directorial debut Portugal (on the lower left). Erik Põllumaa, the talented cinematographer of Portugal.

Mirtel Pohla and the make-up designer Liisi Roht.

Criticism can be very interesting if it’s not just trying to tear you down. be very intrinsic. His direction was intuitive and subliminal in a way that he sort of led you to what happens to Fred as a character in the film. He communicated through different channels and that was exciting. He shared his world and how he understood what was happening and who the characters were. As an actor, I had the opportunity to help him create that world through my character and my own comprehension. I personally think that it’s liberating to not talk about acting technique but about how to move towards a whole together.



How much of you was there in Fred from Free Range?

Fred is a character that was created based on a situation and environment, using my skills and experience, and working together with the director. How sensitive are you to criticism of your work? Have you ever found criticism to be helpful?

Criticism can be very interesting if it’s not just trying to tear you down. I read and listen with interest in order to find out what really happened in the space between the audience and the people on

stage, what energy moved in that space. It’s a stimulating question – we are watching the same thing, but how does it make you feel? How do you understand it? A large part of feedback and opinions don’t come from media channels but from the people we watch a play with. Of course I have my own idea of when I haven’t achieved what I planned, so I also know if something isn’t working. Criticism is most helpful when it can help lead me to new understandings or if it hints at new possibilities. EF


Margus Prangel

Full of Surprises Margus plays one of the lead roles in Lauri Lagle’s eagerly anticipated debut Portugal, released domestically in April 2018. Prangel is known for his work in theatre and film. He has been in Ilmar Raag’s The Class (2007), René Vilbre’s I Was Here (2008) and Triin Ruumet’s 2016 debut film The Days That Confused. By EFI Photo by Virge Viertek


argus, are any of your film roles particularly important or meaningful to you? Which ones and


Theatre or film? And what is it about each that attracts you to them?

A film is like the Olympic games. You prepare thoroughly, you perform for a moment, and then you get a diploma for your wall. Theatre is like jogging. It’s a little different each time, the people are different, the places are different, tomorrow you’ll try better or perhaps run backwards in a hedgehog costume. Is there a director outside of Estonia whose films you would like to act in or whose work you admire, who is important to you or has influenced you? Why?

I like the ones you can see creating their own world, their own system, ones who surprise me and aren’t predictable. There are a lot of them, such as Charlie Chaplin, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Andrei Tarkovski, Lars von Trier, Quentin Tarantino and many others. In Estonian cinema, I belive Lauri Lagle is an example of someone who knows how to create a certain wholeness or integrity on the screen. EF

Of course! I’ve realized that the roles I play deal with the same problems and questions that I do in real life. The issues may not mirror what the film is talking about, but there are similar currents running through the role’s internal world. My most important full-length films were The Class and I Was Here. Now I’m very excited about the premiere of Portugal because the shooting period was long, hard and very interesting. When you are offered a role in a film, what criteria do you use to decide whether to take it? Have you ever said no to a role?

You can tell right away if you’re being offered something because of the role, or just to have another familiar face. But I’ve rarely said no to a role and only if the timing doesn’t work or if they start making a bad version of an “Estonian film” where everything is super deep and keeps getting deeper and no one really gets it.





Female Point of View Aet Laigu works as a producer and screen­writer at her own production company Meteoriit. Her previous film Mother (2016, dir. Kadri Kõusaar) premiered in the Inter­national Narrative Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival and won several awards both inter­ nationally and in Estonia. Her new film Fire Lily (dir. Maria Avdjushko) hit domestic screens in May 2018 and is still waiting for its international premiere. By Maria Ulfsak Photo by Virge Viertek




et, tell us please what your new film Fire Lily is about, and why you decided to produce this film?

Fire Lily is the debut feature of director Maria Avdjushko. Generally speaking, it concerns different realities that can give our life meaning, but also desires that don’t quite turn out the way we want them to. What I liked about the story is that it’s modern and fresh, definitely something that has never been done in Estonian cinema before. No less important was that the theme was strongly centred on women and had a strong female point of view, which unfortunately today is still a rare find in the industry. In the main roles you have a relatively unknown actress, Ingrid Isotamm, and Johann Urb who is a star in Hollywood. That’s an interesting combination - why did you decide to choose them?

I like to discover talent, not only directors but also writers and actors. Similarly, in my previous film Mother, actress Tiina Mälberg played her first major role in cinema and following that she went on to win, among other things, Best Actress at the Estonian TV and Film Awards. For me, it is more important to find the right actor or actress for the role than their relative stardom. As for choosing Johann Urb, we just needed the best-looking guy for the role, who also just happened to be the most successful Estonian actor internationally.

Economics and he connected us. In fact, I’ve been involved in the production of all of Kadri’s films, and we’re currently casting and financing her new film Dead Woman. So, perhaps not intentionally from the start, I have found my niche over the years working primarily with female authors – both with promising talents, like Maria, and already acclaimed directors and writers.

You could say that my first encounter with Kadri Kõusaar was by chance, as I got to know her brother while I studied

holds a business degree and MA in Film and TV Studies from the University of Warwick (UK). She is also an alumna of EAVE (2010) and the prestigious film business programme of National Film and Television School in London - Inside Pictures (2013), and was appointed Producer on the Move in 2016. Aet is a voting member of The European Film Academy.

What is the project Dead Woman that you are currently working on?

Dead Woman is my fourth collaboration writer-director Kadri Kõusaar. The project has been supported by the Estonian Film Institute and has attracted high-caliber independent European co-producers such as Sirena Film (Personal Shopper, The Dancer) among others, and one of the most prolific Arab actors Ali Suliman (Lemon Tree, Paradise Now) in the male lead. In short, Dead Woman is a modern kidnapping story, where two lost souls who are at the same time as different as they are similar, meet under the most unusual circumstances and fall in love.

I like to discover talent, not only directors but also writers and actors.

You produced the features The Arbiter (2013) and Mother (2016), both of which were directed by Kadri Kõusaar, and now Fire Lily, which is directed by Maria Avdjushko. Both are female directors and these stories also more or less revolve around women. Is that incidental, or an intentional choice to work with women?


Please tell us about your background as well. You studied Economics at university and did your MA in Film Studies. Why and how did you become a film producer?

The short answer is some Bulgarians and a Frenchman. The long story started more than 15 years ago. During the last year of my Economics degree, I was working for the International Marketing Department of one of the largest steel manufacturers in Eastern Europe, and I just realised that this wasn’t what I had imagined myself doing for the rest of my life. So, on the spur-of-the-moment, I bought myself a one-way ticket to Iceland, where I became friends with a group of Bulgarians and our most common hobby was watching films, sometimes until the very early hours. I remember clearly that it was seeing Luc Besson’s The Big Blue that literally decided it for me. EF

The Arbiter

SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY Fire Lily (May 2018) dir. Maria Avdjushko. Mother (2016), dir. Kadri Kõusaar. International Narrative Competition section at Tribeca Film Festival. The Arbiter (2013), dir. Kadri Kõusaar. East of the West section at Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Magnus (2007), dir. Kadri Kõusaar. Un Certain Regard section at Cannes Film Festival.





Star of Fire Lily The

Ingrid Isotamm (38) is known mainly as a stage actress in Estonia. She plays Pia, the lead in Maria Avdjushko’s debut feature Fire Lily, and although Ingrid was also in Martti Helde’s award-winning film In the Crosswind (2014), Fire Lily is the first time she has played a leading role in a feature film. By EFI Photo by Virge Viertek



Ingrid Isotamm as Pia in Maria Avdjushko’s mystey drama Fire Lily.

I play a 36 year-old, infertile woman named Pia who has just gone through a difficult divorce. She’s in a dark hole and doesn’t know where to go, until strange things start to happen, things she can’t ignore and which force her to pull herself together. You can see what happens next in the film. The shooting period was the most interesting and intense time of my professional career. Even though I felt like I didn’t know what to do and I couldn’t manage at first, as the days went on, I thought about that less and less. The process was so interesting and immersive. I wasn’t used to filming scenes out of sequence. We pretty much started shooting from the end, so you don’t have the logical emotional growth to back you up like you do in the theatre. All you get is “...and action!” and your tears have to fly. As director Maria Avdjushko is also an actress, she knew how to direct me and make comments that really helped. It was easy to trust her and she was able to make me feel like everything was working. The crew was full of wonderful people who took care of me and made me feel needed, and we had a lot of fun together. I don’t know if people cry at the end of every shooting period, but it was sad when everything

ended. I’m very thankful for the experience. It will stay with me.

Photos by Liisabet Valdoja


ngrid, you are known as a theatre actress, have worked in the puppet theatre and had roles in short films and Martti Helde’s In the Crosswind. But Fire Lily was your first leading role in a film. Who do you play and how was the shooting period?

When you are offered a role in a film, what criteria do you use to decide whether to take it?

It would be pretty funny to set criteria as a film actress at the start of her career. In Fire Lily, I was being cast for a supporting role. I read the script and thought whoever plays the lead would need to be a very brave woman and I would never have the courage to do it. When the producer called and asked me to try out for the lead, I quickly said, “Yes”. So that’s how well I know myself! Theater or film? And what is it about each that attracts you to them?

Film! But I might change my mind after the premiere because I haven’t seen the finished film yet. My internal critic is very tough and it won’t be easy for me to watch. It’s hard for me to compare theatre and film because I’ve worked for a theatre for 10 years and as a freelance actor for another 6, and my experience with film is mostly as a viewer. I’m drawn to both by interest and love. I like to watch and I like to perform in them. It’s a job that’s alive, something that you can’t – or at least I can’t – do listlessly or without emotion. And once you get a taste, there’s no turning back. These worlds - which if you’re lucky you can en-

All you get is “...and action!” and your tears have to fly. ter, and if everything works out, bring others along with you - are powerful. Is there a director outside of Estonia whose films you would like to act in or whose work you admire, who is important to you or has influenced you? Why?

There are a lot of directors whose work I like and, of course, many whose films I always want to see. I measure things by films and books that have made their mark on me. Even if you don’t like a film while you’re watching it, it’s amazing how you watch one film and half-way through realize you’ve already seen it, but with another, years later you still remember it in great detail. I guess films that really affect you get recorded in a different part of your brain. EF ESTONIAN FILM


TALENTSTORY COVER Captain Morten and the Spider Queen by Kaspar Jancis will premiere in the Animafest Competition Programme at the Zagreb International Film Festival and soon after that in Out of Competition Programme at Annecy.

Jack of All Trades A



Kaspar Jancis is a director, screenwriter, artist, editor, animator, illustrator, set designer, musician and author – a real multitalent. By Johannes Lõhmus Photos by Viktor Koshkin


n animation circles, he’s known for his clever, abstract, short films that draw you in, make you think, then also make you doubt in your own mental clarity. His films usually have something a little off about them with flies, love, muttering, strange poses and a rich variety of opportunities for interpretation. For the last six years, he has been working on his first full-length puppet animation Captain Morten and the Spider Queen, which will be finished this spring. . Captain Morten and the Spider Queen is a fulllength puppet animation based on a children’s book by

Kaspar Jancis and made in cooperation between Estonia, Ireland, Belgium and the UK. It tells the story of little, redheaded Morten, who is forced to show unbelievable fortitude for his age to make sure that his games don’t bring big trouble down on him. Captain Morten and the Spider Queen is a fairy tale that takes place on land and sea with all the requisite pirates and ladybugs present. The film’s main producer is the Estonian animation studio Nukufilm. Who is Morten and what is his story?

Morten is a captain’s son whose mother is living in the South Pole as a penguin, and who is forced to live with




CAPTAIN MORTEN AND THE SPIDER QUEEN will premiere internationally in the Animafest Competition Programme at the Zagreb International Film Festival. The film has also been chosen to the Out of Competition Programme at Annecy. Captain Morten and the Spider Queen is a puppet animation film produced in cooperation with Nukufilm Studio (Estonia), Telegael (Ireland), GRID-Animation (Belgium) and Calon (Great Britain). The film had a budget of over 6 million Euros and took six years to complete, making it the most expensive animation film ever produced in Estonia as well as the first full-length puppet animation film made in Ireland. The story was written by author, musician, animation director and set designer Kaspar Jancis. Morten is Kaspar Jancis’s first full-length film and is based on

stepparents because his father won’t take him to sea with him, no matter how much he begs. Just like all parents, his father thinks it’s better for Morten to go to school and let his stepparents raise him. But Morten wants to be responsible for his own future, so he builds himself a ship and gives it a crew made up of bugs. A series of unbelievable events causes him to end up on that same ship with the bugs, who are far from friendly towards him. And that’s how the story starts to unfold. Captain Morten and the Spider Queen is an oldschool fantasy like Alice in Wonderland and the stories of Roald Dahl. It’s not just soft and friendly but also has sharper aspects to its fantasy world, with allegories of personal freedoms and the obstacles standing in your way to achieving them hidden in the subtext. The film is about a real-life conflict and the events that unfold when you are searching to prove yourself.



As his next project, Kaspar Jancis will start wor­king on a drawn short animation called The Cosmonaut.

his children’s book The Adventures on Salamander. The international version of the film is in English and was voiced by internationally renowned actors Brendan Gleeson, Pauline McLynn, Ciaran Hinds and Michael McElhatton, as well as comedy actors Jason Byrne, Tommy Tiernan and Neil Delamere. “It’s quirky and original”, says co-producer Robin Lyons, “but at the same time it’s most definitely a family film. It’s a rites of passage film with some fantasy twists and imaginative visual elements. It’s moving, it’s adventurous and at times it’s very funny.” Currently, Captain Morten and the Spider Queen has been sold to France and Poland. It will reach French cinemas in the autumn. The film is distributed by Sola Media.

The main force behind Captain Morten and the Spider Queen is the desire to create the kind of world you want to live in. Your previous work has mainly been directed towards adults. What made you want to create a story for the younger viewers?

The reason has been a very positive chain of coincidences. I didn’t have this film in my head for the past ten years, waiting to be made. The story developed step-by-step until it finally became a film. It all started when Tallinn was the Cultural Capital of Europe and they ran a competition for stories from the seaside. My band, Kriminaalne Elevant, and I had the idea to write music for some sort of narrative story like a theatre play or a book. At first, we planned a musical show that included a circus and a masked theatre that would travel around the Baltic Sea.

pildiallkiri pildiallkiri pildiallkiri

We submitted our application for financial support but the process took so long that I had time that summer to sit by the bonfire with a friend who is a publisher and tell him the story. He suggested that I write the story into a book, which I did. As I wrote the book, I also wrote music to go with it so, in the end, we published a book and CD combo together. Since I can draw, I illustrated the book myself and since I had just become a father, I was full of desire to put all of my skills to work for this fun project. As a new father, I wanted to create the kind of characters children could also draw easily. Soon after the book was published, we found out that our theatre play about stories from the seaside received support, so we began to prepare the play, but the preparations started looking very much like a film script. At the same time, the current head producer at Nukufilm and one of the studio’s owners, Andres Mänd, was reading my book and listening to the music and had the idea that it would be an ideal full-length puppet animation project for Nukufilm and could get wider attention in the world. So we decided to try. We made a trailer and started looking for international partners. Finally, we ended up with a group made up of Nukufilm from Estonia, Grid VFX from Belgium and Telegael Studio from Ireland. The computer graphics and animation was done

in Belgium. A little more than half of the shooting period took place in Ireland and the other half in Estonia. The creative side was all Estonian – the design, story and script, even though we had writers from America helping us with the script.

Nukufilm made six identical copies of the main character Morten.

Who were your role models for this story?

From the film world, definitely Henry Selick and Tim Burton’s earlier works, as well as Roald Dahl’s books and their film adaptations, have all inspired me. There was an interesting story with Dahls’ book James and the Giant Peach. I started reading it after a review of my book when I was already developing the film. After I finished, I was a little shocked because the characters in the two stories are so similar – a boy with a red tuft of hair and tiny eyes and ladybugs, grasshoppers and spider characters too. But since Morten’s story is based on my own childhood memories, I got over the surprise quickly. The original impulse for the story was my enthusiasm for building little sailboats as a kid, sailing them in streams and stuffing bugs into them to act as crew and to see what they would do on the small boat floating down the stream. Morten’s story grew out of these memories. He’s playing but also harassing the bugs, stealing their freedom and unleashing the chain of events where the bugs start suppressing the weakest ESTONIAN FILM



links in the conditions of their stolen freedom. It’s an endless chain that swallows up Morten as well in the film, forcing him to survive and learn from his own thoughtlessness. Everyone has probably had contact with that kind of top down pressure at some point. These so-called role models gave me the courage to use certain grotesque elements to tell Morten’s story. The filmmaking process was kind of like a sailing trip aswell. We constantly found ourselves in situations where we knew the crew, cargo and ship but our arrival time and place still depended a lot on the weather. Now it seems we are starting to approach the harbour and hopefully my colleagues and I have been able to make our mark and create a valuable piece of work. There have been quite a few writers involved with this story. How was your original story developed and why did it go through so many people’s hands?

I had the libretto for the original play written and that became the backbone of the story at first. The play was a mixed-style, 50 minute children’s musical and it did very well. But since I’ve never written a film with



Kaspar Jancis on the set of Captain Morten and the Spider Queen.

dialogue, a children’s film or a full-length film, I needed help from people who had studied screenwriting so that we could really tackle the project seriously. I wanted to experiment with the classical form – the three-part narrative of the main characters: the antagonist and protagonist and everything else. It was completely foreign territory for me because I was used to making completely different films. To try to do that, I needed someone who knew the rules of screenwriting well and had experience in that field. We found the American screenwriter Mike Horelick who I went to visit in Los Angeles. We wrote the first draft in the garage in the back of his skateboarding store. From that, he wrote the first script version in 2012. Riho Unt and I tried to draw that first script to create a storyboard we could use for funding. At that time, our third partner was Canada and not Belgium, and they also wanted to contribute creatively to the story, so they added their own screenwriter Paul Risacher. I agreed with his suggestions so we wrote a new outline together in Canada. He then wrote the second draft and, with that, I went to work on the Tierra del Fuego ship in Rotterdam. I had 40 days there to work on the storyboard uninterrupted. I

was actually on that ship to film my marine biologist uncle Ivar Murdmaa at work but I had a lot of extra time to work on Morten aswell. A scientist’s work is very routine and I got what I needed pretty quickly from him. The storyboard grew into the third draft, which was already far enough along that I no longer made larger changes but was able to start work with the creative producer Robin Lyons to hash out the details and de-americanize the dialogue. Even though the story had developed a lot since the original idea, none of the developments would have happened without that fist version. Writing the script for Morten didn’t mean that the original story was dismantled, but rather it evolved into something new – we moved towards new ideas through old ones. I’ve heard that with films that are intended for wider audiences, the producers often put a lot of pressure on the story. But I think we’ve been lucky and the original story has more or less been preserved. The ideas in this film have bounced around different continents. What cultural sphere do you think the film is based in?

The film is a fairy tale, which makes it culturally universal and means it could be interesting to people no matter their nationality or culture. For example, we made a very conscious decision not to use national music but find something universal that still had a certain twist to it. I’m very happy with the work of our Canadian composer Pierre Yves Drapeau. To be more specific, the architecture in the film is from a neighborhood of wooden buildings like Kalamaja in Tallinn or some even smaller town in Estonia. The landscape is more Irish. The boy is a redhead (he laughs), which is probably also an Irish cliché. I actually tried to place him in a non-specific cultural environment but I guess he ends up being somewhere between small-town Estonia and an Irish coastal village. This seems like an unprecedented collaboration in scale for Nukufilm Studio and the others involved. How did you all manage?

I think we had a very good team, which worked together and communicated very well. For example, the production designer and co-director Riho Unt was very close to the whole process and took over the set construction and colour choices so I could focus on my work as a director, even though at the beginning we did all of that together and interchangeably. Ragnar Neljandi was the cinematographer and

The main force behind Captain Morten and the Spider Queen is the desire to create the kind of world you want to live in.

Morten is an adventurous film for both kids and adults.

Märt Kivi the head animator, and their work in creating the visual world was truly world class. The thought put into the lighting and the thorough preparation were also no doubt behind our success. The Belgians also quashed any fears I ever had regarding 3D animation. They were able to create a very complete world. Most of the prep work and sketches were made in Estonia, and then our creative team flew to Ireland to continue working. Both we and the Irish had about 9 months of shooting, and that whole time we were constantly on the edge because we had to combine a lot of computer animation with our puppet animation. Our studio lacked previous experience with making such specific and costly puppets, but now our puppet masters have learned the rather rare skill of making joint-armature puppets, which they learned from the British. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue this work in the future because we learned a skill for making world-class puppets. What’s so specific about making these puppets?

Making one puppet is like being an engineer. The puppet has to be light, it has to stay in position, it can’t fall but it also can’t be too heavy or hard to move. It has to bend easily, but also not too much. Finding that balance is very hard work. You need specific materials and machines at specific settings to make sure you end up with an expressive joint-armature puppet, especially with full-length films where you have to use one puppet for a very long time. For an animator, a bad puppet is like a pair of running shoes that are too tight for a runner. We had six identical copies of the main character. We had two or three of the others. We had a total of ESTONIAN FILM



about 24 characters, which is actually not that many since we didn’t have any large scenes and most of the action takes place in one location – the cafe and its surroundings. Morten’s fantasy world where he’s running around as a bug also takes place in that same cafe where there’s been a flood and the water has risen dangerously high. The eyes of a tiny creature see so many fantastically dangerous situations around him and Morten has to pull himself together to overcome them. Making this film required the team to constantly bring themselves to the brink of the impossible. It was a true marathon. What life do the puppets live after the film?

They have a symbolic role in premieres and exhibits. We’ve often thought about reusing puppets but filmmaking is such a long process that the puppets tend to fall apart. Often, the only parts we can reuse are the metal skeletons that hold them together. The puppets mostly represent the film the way that actors do. And now for a classic film industry question – who is the target group for Captain Morten and the Spider Queen?

Because of my own personal experiences, I’ve never been able to understand the target group issue. My mother is a choreographer so even before I was 6 years old, I would sit at the Estonia ballet theatre and watch performances for adults. I can’t say that I en-



Kaspar has been working on his first fulllength puppet animation Captain Morten and the Spider Queen for the last six years.

joyed them very much, but they stayed with me. Just like something stayed with me when I was 9 or 10 and watched Fellini or Tarkovsky with my older brother and his friends. I was drawn into that world. My absolute idols when I was 3 years old were Charlie Chaplin, Max Linder and the other silent film heroes. Those films clearly weren’t meant for children but they were comedies that worked no matter the age of the viewer. I want to tell these kinds of universally understandable stories. I was completely sincere when I made the Morten film and I based it on my own, internal criteria, not on some kind of specific target or age group. We can’t be so two-faced that we only show children a cleaned up, flowery world at the same time as there are darker forces inside people too. We should prepare children for those forces as well and make them ask questions like why something like this would happen, just like in classic fairy tales, which are sometimes full of horrible things in our modern sense – children learn by facing these “horrors”. I think a very good example from the puppet film world is My Life as a Zucchini. The theme of the film took a pretty brave step and dared to talk about certain things that no one would before, which garnered a positive reaction. The film approached those themes in a humane, interesting and entertaining way. And what are your next plans?

This spring, I’ll start working on a drawn short animation called The Cosmonaut. It’s a sorrowful story about its ageing hero told in a tragicomic way. I’m also planning a full-length feature film called Antipolis, which takes place in a backwards world found in the inner core of the world. I’m sure that’s going to be a very interesting process. We hope to start shooting in the summer of 2019. I’m also mulling an idea for a fulllength animation film about alchemists and inhabitants of the moon. And some theatre design work in the mix, which gives me a nice break and helps pay the bills in between the underfinanced and hectic cinema work. EF

Manivald Captain Morten and the Spider Queen

Fields of Boredom

News from the

Animated World 2018 promises to be a fruitful year for Estonian animation. The upcoming months will be very busy with several films selected to the programmes at Animafest Zagreb and Annecy International Animation Film Festival, special focus programmes and the release of the full feature puppet animation Captain Morten and the Spider Queen. By Sigrid Saag


ithin the first half of the year, three extensive focus programmes on Estonian animation have already taken place internationally celebrating 100 years of the Republic of Estonia. The programmes took place at Brussels Animation Film Festival, Monstra International Animation Film Festival in Lisbon and Stuttgart Animation Film Festival. The final preparations are currently being made for the upcoming focus programme at the 58th Krakow Film Festival and a special focus on Estonian animation awaits in August at the Hiroshima International Animation Film Festival in Japan.

international animation event for years and it has always been a great honour to have a film included in the program. While last year the Estonian-Croatian-Canadian short film Manivald by Chintis Lundgren took the festival by storm, this year we are especially proud to have a feature film in the grand competition. Among the eight selected titles, Captain Morten and the Spider Queen by Kaspar Jancis will have its world premiere. The adventurous puppet animation film came to life as a co-production between Estonia, Ireland, Belgium and United Kingdom. In the short film competition programme, Mary and 7 Dwarfs by Riho Unt will be screened, and in the Student Film Competition Estonia is represented by Moulinet by Sander Joon (Estonian Academy of Arts). The World Panorama section includes additional works from the Estonian Academy of Arts - Once in the Fields of Boredom by Teele Strauss and A Table Game by Nicolás Petelski Mesón. Annecy International Film Festival will take place from 11th-16th of June. Their short film competition also includes Mary and 7 Dwarfs by Riho Unt, the programme for Graduation Films screens A Table Game by Nicolás Petelski Mesón and Muteum by Äggie Pak Yee Lee (Estonian Academy of Arts). Feature Films Out of Competition will screen Captain Morten


Mary and 7 Dwarfs

At the same time, our newest animation films have made their way to the official selection of some of the most prestigious animation film festivals in the world. The World Festival of Animated Film Animafest Zagreb - will take place from 4–9th June this year. It has been a leading

and the Spider Queen by Kaspar Jancis. Estonia will also be present with a booth at MIFA so if you happen to be around, please do come and find our stand and drop by to say hi! We’ll be glad to let you know more about Estonia and Estonian animation. EF




November: Rea Lest (on the left), Jörgen Liik, Rainer Sarnet and Katrin Kissa.

Winners of the

Estonian Film and Television Awards 2018

The Estonian Film and Television Awards (EFTA’s) 2018 gala on Saturday 24th March saw winners in 29 categories, 15 for the film and 14 for the television industry. The biggest winner of the evening was Rainer Sarnet’s November, which won 8 awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Female Lead. Chintis Lundren’s Manivald was awarded Best Animation and Sandra Jõgeva’s Love took the prize for Best Documentary. By EFI Photos by Erlend Štaub



November: Jaanus Vahtra


t was the first time any live event was broadcast simultaneously on three different Estonian TV channels, with the Nordea Concert Hall housing over 1300 industry members. Head of the Estonian Film Institute (EFI) Edith Sepp voiced delight at such a joint project. “I’m more than happy that this three-way inter-channel broadcast was successful, and that members of both the film and television industries could go home happy. This shows that people are willing to put their backs together to promote the industry. The EFTA awards this year were truly re-


November: Jaagup Roomet (on the left) and Matis Mäesalu.

November: Rea Lest.

Green Cats: Tõnu Kark.

Manivald: Chintis Lundgren.

Best Feature – November (directed by Rainer Sarnet) Best Documentary – Love (directed by Sandra Jõgeva) Best Animated Film – Manivald (directed by Chintis Lundgren) Best Short Film – Ice (directed by Anna Hints) Best Actress in a Film – Rea Lest (November) Best Actor in a Film – Tõnu Kark in (Green Cats) Best Director – Rainer Sarnet (November) Best Screenwriter – Sulev Keedus (The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow) Best Cinematographer – Mart Taniel (November) Best Composer – Jacaszek (November) Best Art Director – Jaagup Roomet / Matis Mäesalu (November) Best Sound Designer – Marco Vermaas (November) Best Editor – Martin Männik (Soviet Hippies) Best Costume Designer – Jaanus Vahtra (November) The Year’s Highest Achiever in the Art of Film-Making – Taivo Tenso

Art of Film-Making: Gaffer Taivo Tenso.

Love: Igor Ruus (on the left) and Sandra Jõgeva.

markable, with 29 different categories represented. Naturally, there are many more excellent people who I want to recognize for their efforts in enriching the Estonian film and television industries,” Sepp said. The Head of the Film Industry’s Super-Jury Mr. Raimo Jõerand says all of the film awards found their rightful homes. At the same time, he admitted that comparing the different films in contention for the same award was a difficult task. “Why would one film, made one way, be any better than a film made another way? Luckily the jury members were allowed to discuss and present their arguments for or against, and everyone’s opinions were respected. This year’s winners demonstrated real quality through the deep engagement of ESTONIAN FILM



November: Jacaszek.

Ice: Eero Talvistu (on the left), the daughter of Anna Hints and Aksel Ojari.

November: Marko Vermaas.

Soviet Hippies: Martin Männik.

The Manslayer / The Innocent / The Shadow: Sulev Keedus.



the filmmakers, the time they invested, and the tenacity they showed. The authors of the films that premiered last year have invested five, six, or even fifteen years of their energy,” elaborated Jõerand further on this year’s winners. Looking to the future, the Head of the

Jury pointed out how complex next year’s EFTA awards will be. “The EFTAs are becoming a fixture in the annual film industry calendar and next year it will be even more difficult. 2018 is a big year for Estonian film, which has already launched strongly.” EF

Photos by

Mart Taniel

a great honour considering the others who were nominated with me. Of course I’m happy. But this award for the cinematography of the film has to be shared with Rai­ ner Sarnet, the man who imagined this world, described it to me, and allowed me to be inspired by it,” Taniel said. In 2017, November also received the prize for Best Cinematography at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The North-American distribution rights belong to Oscilloscope Laboratories and November hit North-American cinemas in Spring 2018. November has also been sold to HBO and will become internationally available for VOD in Autumn 2018. Director Rainer Sarnet’s film November is a fairy tale for adults where the leads are played by Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi, Heino Kalm, Meelis Rämmeld, Katariina Unt, Taavi Eelmaa and Jaan Tooming. The cinematographer is Mart Taniel, the producer is Katrin Kissa and the production designers are Jaagup Roomet and Matis Mäesalu. November is a co-production between Estonia, the Netherlands and Poland. The production companies responsible are Homeless Bob Production, PRPL and Opus Film. EF

Receives the ASC Spotlight Award for November


art Taniel was awarded the American Society of Cinematographers’ Spotlight Award for his work as cinematographer on the film November. The award ceremony took place in Los Angeles on February 17, 2018. The ASC Spotlight Award was presented to Mart Taniel by cinematographer and ASC President John Bailey, who praised November for its “extraordinarily well-considered beauty in every shot that should inspire us all.” Mart Taniel finished his speech with the prevailing emotion of the day: “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go home and have a heart attack.”

This year, three cinematographers were nominated for the ASC Spotlight Award: Máté Herbai for the film On Body and Soul (dir. Ildikó Enyedi), Mikhail Krichman for Loveless (dir. Andrei Zvjagintsev) and Mart Taniel for November (dir. Rainer Sarnet). The Spotlight Award recognizes outstanding cinematography in features and documentaries that are typically screened at film festivals, in limited theatrical release, or outside the United States. The ASC award in the Theatrical Release category went to Roger Deakins for the film Blade Runner 2049. “Even being a candidate was

Mart Taniel is already shooting his next two films, Kaur Kokk’s debut feature The Riddle of Jaan Niemand and County by the Icelandic filmmaker Grímur Hákonarson.






A Producer on the Move

Esko Rips (36) is the producer behind many internationally successful short films and the popular children’s film The Secret Society of Souptown. This year he was selected to rep­ resent Estonia in the Producers On the Move programme at the Cannes Film Festival. The initiative is aimed at connect­ ing young, enterprising European producers with potential co-pro­ duction partners, strengthening their industry networks and, at the same time, providing a solid and visible platform for the next generation of European filmmakers. By Maria Ulfsak Photo by Virge Viertek




sko, what are your plans regarding your participation in the Producers On the Move programme? What are your expectations for the programme?

First of all, I want to say that I’m very happy to be chosen for the programme. One of my main goals during the programme is to introduce our project O2 to potential co-producers. I believe that Producers On the Move is an ideal platform for that. What projects are you currently working on?

We at Nafta Films are constantly working Esko and his on developing and finding new, interesting team in Lebanon. projects with our team, which includes director Margus Paju and producers Diana Mikita, Andreas Kask, Liis Orav and Ilya Medovyi. In addition to O2, which we are developing with director Margus Paju, we are also actively developing Reconstruction, a film based on the novel by the same title, with director On the set of The Secret Evar Anvelt and screenSociety of Souptown. writer Laura Raud; Anti-Lebanon, a feature film about the seven Estonian bicyclists who The short film The Good Shepherd tells were imprisoned in Lebanon; a family the story of the hostages through the comedy called Totally Boss with screenviewpoint of a local shepherd living in the writer Martin Algus and director Ingomountains of Lebanon. It was important mar Vihmar; our first documentary film to have authentic actors in the film. In about the most successful company to short, everything indicated that it made come out of Estonia, Skype, made in coopsense to film in Lebanon. Since Nafta eration with Film Tower; and a spin-off Films is always actively searching for TV series of the children’s film The Secret new talented directors, we started develSociety of Souptown with young directors oping the film together with director Helen Takkin and Oskar Lehemaa. Evar Anvelt, who was also very drawn to the story and topic. This was Evar’s first You are working on several projects challenge as a film director (he has tied to Lebanon. Why Lebanon? worked as a commercial director and is I’m interested in projects that address, also well known in Estonia as a musician describe and observe stories of Estoniand colourist). Lebanon in itself is an exans with a global aspect, in addition to tremely inspiring place with all its histothe local level. We have three projects in ry, culture and atmosphere. Estonia and development or near-completion that are Lebanon are far from each other, not just tied to Lebanon: a short film, a VR film geographically but also culturally and and a feature film. historically. But when we were there, we We started working on projects conmade great friends with the locals and nected to Lebanon about 3 years ago. The our cultural differences ended up enmain basis or reference for all of our hancing our cooperation together. work with Lebanon is traveler Tiit PruuOne goal we definitely had in producli’s book Anti-Lebanon, which talks about ing and developing a short film in a new, the process of freeing the seven Estonian strange environment was to break out of cyclists held hostage in Lebanon in 2011. our own comfort zones. We felt this right

Esko (on the right) with his colleague from Lebanon, Dany Chamoun.

from the beginning, in the scriptwriting stage. We were dealing with a new culture and place with its own rules and approach to the world. The Good Shepherd is a film with a very humanist message and a positive undertone, despite the serious topic it tackles. In our current interculturally and politically tense world, I find every bit of positivity to be very welcome. It’s possible that the first state-supported VR film in Estonia, which we filmed in Lebanon together with director Rain Rannu, grew out of our desire to try out a new medium. But the story of the cyclists also gave a very unusual opportunity to place the viewer in the shoes of the hostage, so we made use of the opportunity we had by filming two short films in Lebanon at the same time. Right now, both films are finished and waiting for their international premieres, and the full-length feature Anti-Lebanon is in the development phase at the moment. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Tallinn Hosted

ACE Annual Reunion The ACE Annual Reunion took place in Tallinn on April 12-15, gathering members of the ACE Network from the past 25 years. More than 80 members of the ACE Network, includ­ ing the whole ACE27 group, participated in the Tallinn session. By Eda Koppel Photos by Erlend Štaub and Ardo Kaljuvee


stonian, Latvian and Lithuanian professionals were also welcomed to the afternoon’s sessions, which included a presentation by K5’s Oliver Simon (ACE DE) and an interview with Haut et Court’s Carole Scotta (ACE FR). The ACE Producers Annual Reunion is held in a different country every year over a long spring weekend, and, open to all members of ACE Network, this event is an opportunity for experienced producers to share news, knowledge, opinions and practical advice in an informal but confidential environment. The event took place in different venues around the city so that participants could see as many different places as possible - from modern achitecture and the charm of the hipster district, to the unique Seaplane Harbor and medieval Old Town.



Jacobine van der Vloed, the Director and Head of Studies, said: “We very much appreciated the warm atmosphere and generosity. Tallinn is a lovely city, and the ACE Network enjoyed being there to the fullest. We have met wonderful producers from Estonia and the other Baltic countries and we sincerely hope that many of them will become ACE producers in the future.” Simon Perry, ACE president added: “In my experience no Annual Reunion until now has enjoyed such high quality hospitality from our hosts - in terms of culturally interesting locations, consistently excellent cuisine, and rewarding interaction with enthusiastic professionals.” Colin Young, Founder of ACE commented: “Possibly like many in the ACE delegation attending the celebration of its 25th anniversary, this was my first visit to the Baltic region.

Edith Sepp, CEO of EFI

ACE 25 year anniversary celebrations. Colin Young (ACE founder) and Simon Perry (in the centre) blowing candles.

Simon Perry, ACE President

ACE PRODUCERS is an exclusive network of experienced independent film producers from Europe and beyond. Membership of the network is based on professionalism, mutual trust, collaborative working and openness to new ideas. A fundamental aim of ACE Producers is to encourage and enable international co-productions. Founded in 1993, ACE Producers now has around 200 active members from more than 45 countries. Network members gather for further training and professional events at all major festivals

and markets during the year, and regularly co-produce with each other. From Estonia, Kristian Taska (Taska Films), Riina Rildos (Amrion), Katrin Kissa (Homeless Bob Production) and Anneli Ahven (Kopli Kinokompanii) are members of the ACE Producers’ Network. The ACE 2018 Annual Reunion in Tallinn was held thanks to the support of Estonian Film Institute, Enterprise Estonia, the Baltic Creative Europe MEDIA Desks, Creative Gate, Estonian Film Industry Cluster and Estonian Cultural Endowment.

From left Riina Sildos (ACE 17, EE), Milena Poylo (ACE 9, FR), Christine Kiauk (ACE 23, DE)

The event took place in different venues. A session at Vaba­ lava, Telliskivi.

I consider it my great good fortune that the destination was Tallinn. This is a proud city and its leaders have to be congratulated for preserving and maintaining its beautiful ancient core; even if it now contains a McDonalds, it is also home to a Scottish pub. My one regret is that I could see that

only from the outside. Our hosts were generous with their time and their information and I can genuinely not recall anywhere that ACE has met in its 25 years where the hospitality and services needed for a multinational conference were provided so abundantly. Any complaints? Only that our visit was too short.” EF ESTONIAN FILM



Photo by Priit Grepp

Cinematographer Rein Kotov and director Moonika Siimets working on The Little Comrade.

Man The

Behind the


Experienced cinemato­ grapher Rein Kotov’s work includes the Oscar-nomi­ nated Tangerines (2015) as well as this spring’s Estonia 100 programme-opening film The Little Comrade. He talks about his path to film­making.


By Verni Leivak First published in Postimees

Photo by Teddy Puusepp

Rein Kotov on the set of Truth and Justice

Photo by Heikki Leis

The set of Truth and Justice.


hat makes this spring’s debut film by Moonika Siimets, The Little Comrade, special in your filmography?

Every film is special. Every film director is a very special person – it’s a very tough career. We didn’t have any female directors for a long time; now, we’ve had three female debuts in a few years. I met Moonika Siimets some years ago when we were filming The Secret of Salme. It was a very fun story, and back then, she already spoke to me about how she wanted to make feature films. When Moonika went to study filmmaking and I saw her first short film, I thought – Wow! I was very positively surprised. So The Little Comrade is special to me because I worked with a very talented director with a great sense of humor who is able to inspire the whole film crew with her personality, attitude and behavior.

stand why they behaved like that – the texture and state of the natural environment are extremely important. That was a very beautiful summer. How did you realize that you have an eye for cinematography?

You started in the film world pretty early on – your first job was on the 1984 film Requiem.

I was part of the art crew as a regular, 18 year-old construction guy. I was looking for work after high school so I walked into the Tallinnfilm Studio hoping that they had work for me. They offered me a job in construction for Olav Neuland’s film Requiem. We spent about two months by the Koiva River building a house where the captain lived. The house was later smashed by a tank, I think – we were kicked out before the shooting started! I briefly remember a moment when the construction crew left and the shooting crew came in. They were very angry because we had trampled the grass all around the shooting location. Back then, I didn’t understand why, I even found them a bit offensive. But now I under-

I started working with photography very early on, when my aunt gave me a photo camera for my tenth birthday. We had a neighbor who was a photographer and it all seemed so exciting. Back then, we used the so-called analogue processes – I got the equipment I needed and learned the whole process from start to finish. Could you still load a roll of film onto a developing reel in the dark?

I think I could. That whole world was very exciting, starting with the fact that you had to build a darkroom in your bathroom. I photographed everything – views, people around me... A few friends and I wandered around the forest and tried to capture animals on camera. When we caught one, it seemed so cool to us. But I especially liked the developing process. That moment when an image starts to appear on your paper is magical. I felt like I was discovering something that no-one else could see. I still get that feeling today – the hope that I’m capturing something that touches and that others can’t see. ESTONIAN FILM


Photo by Renee Altrov


First of all, you should want to be behind the camera, not in front of it.


Where did the ambitious plan to apply for the Moscow Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) come from?

realise who does what or what’s even going on.

At that time it was the only school where you could study to be a director of photography for film. I had lived with that notion since the last few years of high school. The first time I tried to get in was after two years in the Soviet Army. I didn’t make it that time, but I got in the second time around. I was 22 then. Before going to school, I worked at Tallinnfilm for two years in the chronicle news division as a camera assistant. From there, I was put on long documentaries. My main jobs were to load the film cassettes – old roll out, new roll in – making sure the material got sent to the lab, taking care of the equipment and lugging everything around during the shoots. All that gave me the extraordinary opportunity to spend two years observing the creative process of very dedicated filmmakers. I think the chronicle division was a great place to start because it was a soft beginning – a smaller group accepts you faster. If I had ended up on features right away, I may have been scared off, because making a feature film can sometimes be a very anxious and chaotic process. Feature films have big crews, it’s possible you won’t

You finished film school in 1991, which was a very complicated time for Estonia. Were you sure you’d find work as a cinematographer?


Photo by Renee Altrov

Dancing scene from the set of Tanel Toom’s debut feature Truth and Justice.

Absolutely not. No one knew what the future would bring at all. But you don’t worry so much when you’re young. Are cinematographers in Estonia able to choose their projects?

Cinematographers get to choose films based on their previous work; based on what they captured on screen and how they acted on set. The screen is ruthless. Is it true that the bigger the film star, the easier it is to work with him or her?

It’s very different; there’s no pattern to it. Sometimes less experienced actors do seem to act like bigger stars than some more experienced ones, but I would still say it’s not always the case. One thing I can say is that actors who are more experienced in film seem to feel surer of themselves on set. They assess the situation more accurately, appreciate the crew and know how to save their energy. Inexperienced actors sometimes don’t understand

and that can make them confused. What is your record for number of takes?

On Tangerines, our record number of takes with director Zaza Urushadze was forty-five. That was a scene with three actors – the Georgian, the Chechen and Estonian Ivo played by Lembit Ulfsak. It was a long scene with a long dialogue and we didn’t shoot it in pieces but all in a row. The camera moved from one actor to the other, then found the third and so on.

Photo by Allfilm

Estonian cinema­ tography is doing very well. everything that has to do with dramaturgy, acting, the world of sound and music. You’re not a solo artist in film. What do you think of the level of cinematographers in Estonia?

Photo by Renee Altrov

On the set of lauded Tangerines with the screen legend Lembit Ulfsak (in the middle) and producer Ivo Felt (on the left).

Truth and Justice takes place over several decades.

I guess it was worth it – not every film is nominated for an Oscar, right?

A lot of things have to fall in place for one film or another to get an Oscar nomination. But the prerequisite is that it has to be a film that touches the viewer. I guess that connection with the audience plays the most important role. That was the time when the war between Russia and Ukraine had just started and there had been a war with Georgia earlier. With Tangerines, I remember that most of the crew was Georgian. There were five to ten Estonians in total. If you’ve ever been to Georgia, you know that they have their own manner of speaking and interaction – they’re very temperamental. And yet I was still surprised. It was the first day of shooting, we’d been preparing for it for weeks, and I was

just starting to get used to the way that the Georgians interact amongst themselves. Like for example when we think they’re screaming, it just means that they’re discussing something. But when Zaza stopped mid-take on the first day of the shoot and started waving his arms and shouting “No, Rein, not like that!”, I thought it was all over. Of course, I could see that the pan wasn’t working too. But here, up North, we finish the take and then discuss what went wrong.

But where does a cinematographer really get that ability to see the world in a unique way and show that to others?

It’s very personal. I try to shoot based on myself. First of all, you should want to be behind the camera, not in front of it. Then you need an interest in photography, and in observing nature, observing the light, observing people. You have to be interested in how to catch it and imitate it. Then, you should be interested in fiction. Knowing what’s going on in music wouldn’t hurt. Often you need rhythm to build up sequences. And yet, film and photography are actually totally different. The image is made in a similar way, but one captures a still image and the other a moving one. And the moving image also includes

Estonian cinematography is doing very well. On the one hand, the Baltic Film and Media School has gotten results and, on the other, a lot more films are being made. Lately, we’ve started to see a real need for professional filmmakers, and we have a whole new generation of good cinematographers. Just recently, Mart Taniel received the ASC Spotlight Award from the American Society of Cinematographers for his film November. That’s a big honour – it’s not a political title, but rather filmmakers judging filmmakers. You’ve been a nominee for the European Film Awards.

That was a long time ago, when we made The Heart of the Bear with Arvo Iho in 2001. I imagine that the film caught their eye because of the exotic natural setting. The film took place in Siberia, even though we didn’t film there. We were on this side of the Ural Mountains in Komi. On colder days, the temperature went down to minus forty Celsius. Fortunately, we also had an old mechanical camera with us and it worked in such extreme cold. In the synch camera there were oils which froze. And right now you’re working on Tanel Toom’s Truth and Justice?

It’s pretty serious work, in every sense. For me, it’s the most difficult work I’ve done. We’re all a little out of breath, but it feels good. We’ll finish shooting this summer and the film will premiere in February 2019. I’d use the words of the author of the original work, A. H. Tammsaare, to comment on the film: “Social problems are not forever, social interests change every 5-10 years. But psychological problems remain more or less fresh, whether they be from the era of the Ancient Greeks or our modern day.” EF ESTONIAN FILM



Black Is the New Black What’s brewing at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival?

2017 Black Nights FF Award Ceremony

Embracing the darkness of the northern nights with the bright works and minds of global cinema, the team at Tallinn Black Nights aka BNFF is excitedly looking forward to the new edition with fresh updates to the programme. By Hannes Aava


017 was a record-breaking year for the festival, with more than 1200 film professionals and journalists in attendance, a potential global media audience of over 1 billion, 540 features, shorts and animations screened as well as an attendance of more than 80,000 people. It also saw a warmly received focus on Flemish cinema and the celebration of the 100th birthday of Finland. The 22nd edition will continue the birthday celebrations as BNFF will be paying respects to the 12 countries (including Estonia) and the legendary Swedish film director Ingmar



Bergman who will all have their 100th birthday this year. The festival has also introduced a conceptual change to one of its competition programmes, as the former Estonian Film Competition will be turned into a Baltic Competition. According to the festival director Tiina Lokk the Baltic Competition is actually an old idea that the team is excited to return to. “It was a programme we had to cancel years back, as the Baltic film output was just not sufficient enough to support the format. We are glad that the situation in the three countries has improved significantly and we can embrace

the regional aspiration of BNFF, to introduce the best cinematic output of the three states to our audiences,” she added. Focus on the 100-year-olds

1918 was a big year in European politics for many nations - as an historic precedent, numerous new countries were put on the map, some for the very first time in history. BNFF is celebrating the 100th birthday of some of the countries that were born in late 1917 and 1918. The focus countries of 2018 are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia (known as Czechoslovakia until

Photo by Erlend Štaub

Photo by Ahto Sooaru

Photo by Aron Urb

Photo by Ahto Sooaru

Photo by Ahto Sooaru

Best Director award winner Ju-hyoung Lee (Excavator)

2017 saw series introduced in the festival programme for the first time Babylon Berlin premiere

1989), Ukraine, Iceland, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Austria and Romania. The festival will introduce the cinematic output of the respective countries by selecting new films made within the last year and by also screening a tailor-made archive programme which will present one film from each country respectively. Eva Näripea, the head of the Estonian Film Archive is supporting the festival with curatorial duties of the programme, collaborating with some of the heads of the respective archives of the focus countries to put together a coherent and comprehensive programme. The Estonian Connection: Ingmar Bergman

Celebrating another significant anniversary, namely the 100th birthday of one of the most renowned auteurs of world cinema – Ingmar Bergman – BNFF will

screen five films from his oeuvre and shine a light on his ties with Estonia. The film programme will be accompanied by an autobiographical jubilee exhibition, a lecture and an audiovisual symphony created by Estonian composer Jüri Reinvere, that was first performed during the Gothenburg film festival. The programme includes High Tension (1950), a Cold War-era film noir from the early stages of his career. It is a rare chance to see Estonian refugees who were hired to play episodic roles. Among others we see the art critic and stage director Hanno Kompus, singer and actor Els Vaarman and actor Rudolf Lipp. Bergman has written in his notes that encountering the exiled actors left a strong impression on him due to the “richness of their lives and experiences”. Bergman, having travelled in Eas­tern Europe and being married to an

Director Tembirek Birnazarov (left) and leading actress Dina Jacob (right) of the Grand Prix-winning Night Accident

Estonian pianist and a refugee, Käbi Laretei – used Estonian as an influence for the made-up language spoken in his quietly bizarre The Silence (1963), which is thematically inspired by the real-life events of Laretei. The story follows two women, sisters and polar opposites in character, and the young son of one of them, escaping war in a fictional Eastern European country, effectively becoming refugees in the process. The film’s themes of sexual identity, existential solitude and interpersonal communication issues make it a direct precursor to Persona, which was made three years later. The programme will be rounded off by the well-known Bergman classics Persona (1966), Cries & Whispers (1972) and Autumn Sonata (1978), all starring the two-time Academy Award nominee Liv Ullmann. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Photo by Aron Urb


Work in Progress Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event With nearly 600 industry guests from 48 countries and 450 pre-arranged meetings in 2017, Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event is gradually becoming the must-visit finale of the professionals’ calendar year, welcoming guests from Northern and Eastern Europe, CIS countries, North America and even Asia. 2018 will see a further develop­ ment of the established programme of panels, works in progress showcases, a co-production market and some exciting new initiatives currently in the works.


By Hannes Aava

he previous edition saw several new projects being successfully launched, adding the new talent platform Creative Gate to the event’s agenda. The project aim is to help professionals from film-related fields such as acting, production design and music composition to find their way to the industry internationally and showcase talent already actively participating in filmmaking in the Baltic region. The highlights of 2017 included the Screen Stars Tallinn showcase/workshop series



for talented up-and-coming actors from the Baltic sea region, and several new masterclasses for film music composers, art directors etc. The current agenda is to develop the platform further with events happening all-year-round. Another new project that was launched and will see significant new developments is Baltic Preview, a short film project showcase set to become the first short film market in Northern Europe. The 2018 edition, taking place from the 26th to 28th of November will see co-operation with the Torino Short Film Mar-

ket, which takes place at a similar time. The two events are co-inviting representatives of several key short festivals and platforms. Furthermore, just like last year, Baltic Preview will showcase 15 projects from the three Baltic countries.

S FOR STORYTELLING As a first step of new initiatives regarding storytelling, Script Pool Tallinn script development contest was launched in 2017. The first edition received new projects from internationally accomplished filmmakers such as Shonali Bose (Margarita With A Straw) who won the 5000euro award provided by Telepool, Andrea Pallaoro (Hannah), Alexander Kott (Insight), and Black Nights Official Selection’s Best Script winner in 2016 Igor Cobileanski (Eastern Business). These and several other scripts that made it to the final selection last year are now available on demand for anyone interested in co-development. The next step, which is currently in the works, is the Future of Storytelling Lab, which is aimed at nurturing a new generation of storytellers with the skills

and ambitions to operate in the new audiovisual landscape, defined by multiplatform solutions and audiences looking for entertainment from other formats series, VOD and games. This new lab would select international screenwriters on the basis of a story concept with the potential to scale up to digital platforms. They will travel to Tallinn for sessions providing a comprehensive education in the process of creative digital writing and project development for digital multiplatform production, including one to one feedback sessions with professional Photo by Aron Urb

Slush and Latitude59, along with the other major markets on the circuit. In the middle of its second cohort, with 13 projects and companies through the pipeline, the projects and companies Storytek_ has supported include Amulet Studio from Croatia developing a language agnostic short format animation series Manabu educating children on global issues, VFC - a neurotech driven and cloud based solution for distributed test screenings by Quebec’s production powerhouse La Maison De Prod, whose genre feature Les Affames was recently acquired by Netflix, and CUES - prediction algorithm of marketing solutions for independent films to find their audiences, which was selected for Berlinale Startups 2018 and developed by BAFTA-winning UK producer Victoria Thomas, along with regional highlights such as Fanvestory - revolutionizing the royalties business through a fan investment platform, and Metatron - applying machine learning to archive monetization. Storytek will host a presentation session on the acceleration, investment and development possibilities as well as the world renowned Estonian e-residency digital ecosystem during Marché du Film NEXT conference programme on the 9th of May at the Palais, along with the presentation of the best of Cohort One projects and companies. EF

Winner of the Eurimage Co-Production Development Award: The Great Bear Finland, director Jan Forsström (center), producer Kaarle Aho (right) and Maria Forsström (left).

mentors, group sessions, and a pitching competition. The best projects would receive partnership deals with the Lab’s partners, including the Storytek_ Accelerator.

STORYTEK_ - ACCELERATING THE FUTURE OF CONTENT Storytek_ Accelerator, founded in 2017 by private investors and BNFF, brings together deep knowledge of the audiovisual sector, technology and funding, with a selection of hand-picked tech entrepreneurs and content creators. The purpose of Storytek_ is to help creatives, producers, and early-stage companies to develop business, fast-track their content, products and services to the global mar-

kets and access finances. Storytek offers a challenging 10-week mentor program to build the platforms and content twice a year, where producers and content creators, and startup companies developing products and services for the film and media verticals will sprint their projects and companies with the guidance of innovators and mentors from the world’s leading film, content and media tech companies. Additionally, the participants will benefit from business matching with potential corporate clients and investors, as well as gain access to the best in the tech and content worlds as Storytek_’s demo days synchronize with the region’s premium tech and content events including




Estonian actors Kaspar Velberg (on the left) and Pääru Oja play the lead roles in Mihkel.

The Crazy 90’s Icelandic-Estonian-Norwegian co-production feature Mihkel (Halastjarnan), written and directed by Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon, will premiere in Estonia in August 2018. By Maria Ulfsak


he film’s international premiere has not been set yet. Mihkel is Magnússon’s first full-length feature and is based on a real life tragedy that took place in Iceland in 2004. It is a crime drama about two young men on a journey that brings them to Iceland. They get involved in a dangerous deal that puts their childhood friendship to the test. International sales for the 1.8 million euro film are being handled by sales agent Level K. The project was a minority co-production for Estonia – it starred two Estonian actors and some of the shooting took place in Estonia. The Estonian co-production company for Mihkel is Amrion with co-producers Evelin Penttilä and Riina Sildos. The main production company is Truenorth from Iceland, and the Norwegian co-production company is Evil Doghouse Productions. Evelin Penttilä, one of the Estonian producers for Mihkel, remembers meeting director Ari Alexander Magnússon in Tallinn in December 2011 at an event celebrating the European Capital of Culture and decid-



ing they’d like to work together. “Ari came here with his short film Urna – a poetic rendition of the tragic novel by Icelandic writer Gudbergur Bergsson. His documentary films and background in painting give him a unique worldview as a director.” Mihkel is based on true events that took place in Iceland and that continue to receive a lot of public attention to this day. Young, talented Estonian actors Kaspar Velberg and Pääru Oja were cast as the main characters. The prologue of the film takes place in Narva during the beginning of Estonian re-independence. The story then jumps to

Mihkel is Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon’s first full-length feature.

the modern day where one of the main characters Mihkel delivers a package to his friend Igor. “The cooperation with Iceland is unique because it gives Estonian actors the opportunity to star in an Icelandic film that also mostly takes place there. Mihkel is a generational story about the crazy ‘90s when borders were opening and societal changes threw human relations and fates into an uncontrollable whirlwind. The film takes place in Narva in the summer of 1991, in wintry Reykjavik, and in a picturesque little Icelandic fishing village named Djupivogur,” Penttilä commented. Riina Sildos, Mihkel’s second Estonian co-producer, says that cooperation with Iceland is new and intriguing for her. “We are working with top professionals in the field and a very experienced creative team,” Sildos added. EF


On 24th February 2018, one hundred years passed from the proclamation of Estonia as an indepen­ dent, democratic republic. In order to celebrate the anniversary, the Estonia 100 Film Programme was launched to bring numerous new works to movie theatres in 2018 and 2019.


ithin this programme, five feature films (The Little Comrade, Take It or Leave It, The Riddle of Jaan Niemand, Eia’s Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm, Truth and Justice), two documentary films (Roots, The Wind Sculpted Land), a full-feature animation film Lotte and the Lost Dragons, and a TV Series The Bank will be produced.

Additionally, a diverse programme of events will take place internationally, offering thousands of opportunities to celebrate around the world up until 2020. Numerous film focuses have also been planned, which include programmes with current and historic Estonian feature films, shorts, documentaries and animation. Some also include lectures and workshops and shed more light on our history, culture, film industry and funding possibilities. The program is already at full speed and wonderful events have already taken place at Stockfish Film Festival, Brussels Animation

ene r c n s tive e a i c n b sto rospe also E l cia ret can ther Spe s and mes us o s. ing gram vario event pro nd at ional fou ernat s? u n i int h d t ste ng wi e r i e Int ebrat the r cel ntact Film urthe n Co onia for f n Film Festival, Est titute ion o s Clermont FerIns rmat focu rand Film Festiinfossible mes. val, Berlin Interpo gram national Film pro Festival, Glasgow International Film Festival, Lisbon Animation Film Festival, Tampere Film Festival, Northern Lights Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, GoEast Film Festival, Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Films and more is still to come.

DON’T MISS OUT ON THE OPPORTUNITY AND FIND ESTONIA AT THE FOLLOWING EVENTS: • Cannes International Film Festival France / May 2018 • Beldocs Serbia / May 2018 • Baltic Film Days St. Petersburg, Russia / May 2018 • Krakow Film Festival Poland / May 2018 • Annecy International Animation Film Festival France / June 2018 • Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Czech Republic / July 2018 • Locarno International Film Festival Switzerland / August 2018 • Carl International Film Festival Karlskrona, Sweden / August 2018 • Baltic Film Days Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius / August 2018

• International Animation Festival Hiroshima Japan / August 2018 • Helsinki International Film Festival Love And Anarchy Finland / September 2018 • Reykjavik International Film Festiva Iceland / September 2018 • San Sebastian International Film Festival Spain/ September 2018 • Estonian Film Days Rome, Italy / September 2018 • Rügen International Film Festival Germany / October 2018 • Estonian Film Days Madrid, Spain / October 2018 • CPH:PIX Copenhagen, Denmark / October 2018

• Baltic Film Days New York, USA / October 2018 • Jinzhen International Short Film Festival Hancheng, China / October 2018 • Estonian Film Days Valetta, Malta / October 2018 • Edinburgh Short Film Festival United Kingdom / November 2018 • Nordic Film Days Lübeck Germany / November 2018 • Brest European Short Film Festival France / November 2018 • Tehran International Short Film Festival Iran / November 2018 • Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Estonia / November 2018 • Tbilisi International Film Festival Georgia / December 2018




The Groundbreaking


Pikk Street by Hans Roosipuu


2018 is the year all three Baltic States will celebrate the centenary of their independence, so it’s a suitable time to look back at our history. One of the opportunities for reflection is given by the documentary film Bridges of Time, which was made in cooperation with all three countries and will premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.


By Riho Västrik

018 is the year all three Baltic States will celebrate the centenary of their independence, so it’s a suitable time to look back at our history. One of the opportunities for reflection is given by the documentary film Bridges of Time, which was made in cooperation with all three countries and will premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. In addition to this comprehensive documentary film, the Karlovy Vary program will also delight viewers with a retrospective programme of documentary films from the Baltic New Wave. The programme includes films by such documentary legends as Audrius Stonys, Mark Soosaar, Laila Pakalnina, Andres Sööt etc.



The 1960s was a groundbreaking era for documentary filmmaking in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. A film about that time by directors Audrius Stonys (Lithuania) and Kristine Briede (Latvia) and Estonian co-production company Vesilind will be completed by the summer of 2018. The viewer is taken into the distant world of Baltic documentaries and the legendary people behind them. The filmmakers were inspired by the Latvian documentary superstar Herz Frank’s metaphor about Ptolemy’s map. The idea is that old seafarers used maps that had very little in common with the maps we use today, but they still made it to their destination. They started on their way and saw what happened. These filmmakers feel

Riho Västrik is the Estonian co-producer of Bridges ot Time.

the same way – it seems unimaginable to fit the film art of three countries into such a limited number of minutes but when you just set off without knowing, you discover new navigation marks and coastlines on the way and finally arrive at your destination. After the Second World War, the film industry in the Estonian SSR was in ruins, just like our capital city Tallinn after the air strikes of March 1944. The equipment had been evacuated to Russia or destroyed and the creative crews had lost their credibility in the eyes of the new regime. But since the Soviet Union was well aware of the


tional motifs, expressed above all through a sense of yearning for times past, also found their way into documentary films. Often, it was the poetic nature of the way they talked about the good, old Estonian era that moved the films smoothly past the otherwise strict censorship. By the end of the 1950s, the Western world was exhausted by the concepts in poetic films and there was pressure for a more documentary style, but here it became one of the characteristics of our new wave. Film theorist Bill Nichols has said that the basis for poetic documentaries is the world around us, but the films transform that world in a specific way. It’s a method based on perception, mood, and tone that doesn’t develop rhetorical elements too much. The emphasis is on the superiority of poetic, associative characteristics over the conveying of information. Writings from the time focus on searching for an image that would create a metaphor and allow the film to rise higher than the level of copying reality. This quest was similar in all three Baltic States. The documentary films of the 1970s saw a decline in the romanticizing of the past, even though the approach didn’t disappear altogether. The one-time young filmmakers had become mature authors who kept moving down their own creative spirals. The Soviet Union changed their concept from that of building up communism to that of living in a developed, socialist system. The poetical approach remained but the development of sound equipment (especially as it allowed synchronized shoots) allowed filmmakers to experiment more with reportage-style elements. The Karlovy Vary programme gives you a more thorough overview of the Baltic New Wave, with both the retrospective program as well as the documentary film Bridges of Time. EF




3 propagandistic power of films, it was impossible for such a void to last. Russia sent ideologically sound comrades to “help” Tallinn and they started cultivating an artistic style approved by the regime – social realism. At the beginning of the 1950s, there was a quota for the number of students admitted into the Russian State University of Cinematography in Moscow (VGIK) from the Socialist Republic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The years after Stalin’s death in 1953 were a time of dramatic changes in Moscow, allowing the cultural elite to discuss topics that could have

1. 511 Best photographs of Mars by Andres Sööt 2. The Dreams of the Centena­ rians by Robertas Verba 3. A Trip Through Misty Meadows by Henrikas Šablevicius 4. Ten Minutes Older by Herz Frank 5. The Old Man and the Land by Robertas Verba

brought them repressions during the Stalinist era. Art could once again ask the question: what is the meaning of life? Even though the official answer was still “to build up communism”, it no longer sounded convincing. The students at VGIK saw films by Italian neorealists and got an incurable infection from them. Soviet film art started looking for the humane hero who was no stranger to weakness and mistakes and who moved far away from the lacquered and lifeless superhero prevalent in social-realism. These were the ideas that students brought with them from VGIK and the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS) when they returned to the Tallinn Kino Studio in the end of the 1950s. The youth had the fortitude to get their way, and it was easier to push their ideas through together. Reforms were also happening in other forms of art in the sixties: in fine arts, literature, theatre and journalism as well. That was what became the beginning of what is now called the Baltic New Wave. Even though the situation was similar for all three Baltic States, they all had their own specifics as well. In Estonian film, the new wave meant bringing national themes to the screen. At the same time, na-




Roots By EFI Photos by Kaupo Kikkas


oots tells six very personal stories about birth and death, being alone and together, great joy and great sadness, told honestly and bravely from a female perspective. The authors are Estonian directors between the ages 29-61 and the stories are tied together by talented animation director Anu-Laura Tuttelberg’s animated clips. “I’ve always admired films with a personal view. A personal, honest approach,” the producer of Roots, Ülo Pikkov, described the

project to Estonian Film. “Maybe I wouldn’t have dared undertake something like this as a director myself, but the Estonia 100 film program gave us the idea to ask working female directors to turn the camera on themselves. Interestingly enough, together these interwoven short tales form something more than just a cassette of autobiographies. They are stories that touch the viewer today, in ten years and in twenty years time. Roots forms a mirror where you can see your own reflection,” Pikkov added.

Roots is a documentary project which consists of six different films. It is one of the Estonian centenary celebration film projects.

Nora Särak

Roots includes six films: A POEM ABOUT LOVE DIRECTED BY NORA SÄRAK “It was my first time leaving Estonia with no thought of returning. It was the first time I changed my life completely for something as unexpected as love. It was my first time truly understanding the pathetic feeling of yearning. This poetic collage is my attempt at sharing my thoughts and the situations that have recently led me to them.”

A Poem About Love

Anna Hints


With Mum at the Monastery



DIRECTED BY ANNA HINTS “A mother and daughter with a painful past go to a monastery in Thailand together. Will 26 days of silence filled with strict meditation help them make peace with their past?”

Wombstone My Flesh and Blood

MY FLESH AND BLOOD DIRECTED BY HEILIKA PIKKOV “My grandmother and grandfather were married in 1959. 50 years later, they once again stand at an altar to reaffirm their oath from long ago. Now, they know when to stand up for themselves and when to be quiet. When to forgive and when to let go. And they also know there isn’t much time left. This is a story about love and loss. About my flesh and blood.”

Helika Pikkov

Kersti Uibo


40 Years Later

40 YEARS LATER DIRECTED BY MOONIKA SIIMETS “My parents Tiina and Ülo have saved more stuff in their home throughout the years than they have space to live. Useless piles of clothes, old newspapers and dishes block the way to the dinner table or bed. This is a story about a love for things and the difficulty of letting go of them.”

Aljona Suržikova

Moonika Siimets

DIRECTED BY KERSTI UIBO “Wombstone is best understood as the observations of an unborn or newborn child setting eyes on the world for the first time. Is a mother’s womb the confined space that it appears to be, or is it as infinite as the cosmos itself? Is the boulder on the beach as tall as a mountain, or as tiny as a pebble? The sounds of gently breaking waves or fluttering of an insect’s wings were telling the story of our roots long before human footprints were first left on Baltic beaches.”

WAITING FOR A MIRACLE DIRECTED BY ALJONA SURŽIKOVA “A woman’s biggest joy is giving the gift of life to a new human being. The biggest pain – the loss of a child – helps to see the beauty in life. This film is about life and how miraculous it is that we are alive.”

Waiting for a Miracle

Waiting for a Miracle






the Man Who Sailed Around the World It took nine years of detective work to finish a documentary about Ahto Valter, the first Estonian to sail around the world. This layered story about a hero from a past era takes the viewer on a journey through time.


Ahto. Chasing a Dream By Katariina Rebane First published in Eesti Päevaleht



bout nine years ago, documentary filmmaker Jaanis Valk (39) happened to read a book about Ahto Valter. He found out that Valter was the first Estonian to sail around the world, and to do it even before the Second World War. “I’m a history buff, but this was new information to me,” Valk admits. After that, he started investigating what happened to Ahto Valter and whether it was material for a documentary. “I was most drawn to the fact that Valter’s story is untold to this day. He was forgotten because of the years of occupation in Esto-

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

nia. Many people don’t even know who Ahto Valter was or that he existed,” Valk mentions. The film includes material gathered in the United States, Canada, Australia and the Republic of South Africa. “These have been years of intense detective work for me,” the documentarian says. The first year and a half were spent figuring out if even enough material about the sailor existed. “During the First Estonian Republic, people talked a lot about Valter. When he was 17 years old, in 1930, he took a tiny boat from Paljassaar Peninsula in Tallinn to New York. But there wasn’t any material


about his trip around the world in Estonia,” Valk says. But then, some unique footage came to light in Canada and the documentary team discovered that it was in fact possible to tell the story of Ahto Valter after all. “I also found out that there was film footage of Valter in the film archive of the Republic of South Africa. But, from the moment that I got in touch with them to actually getting the material took nine months. It would have been a real shame if that footage had been missing from the film,” Valk says. He found out about the footage in South Africa through a diary kept by one of Valter’s travel companions, which described their arrival in Africa and how a cameraman came on board. “The diary named the title of the chronicle. If it hadn’t, we would never have found it because the title had nothing to do with Ahto or Estonia,” Valk says. He gives another example of his detective work: “Ahto’s son, Ted, sailed around the world when he was 14 months old. In an inter-

view, he says that his godmother was Australian, he was christened in Lagos, and that his godmother’s father was the Australian Chief Justice. I found a professor at a university in Australia who had done research on that judge. With his help, I found Ted’s godmother’s descendants and they had some photos that I previously didn’t know existed. These kinds of tidbits of a conversation or facts are the type of things that helped lead one thing to another over the years,” Valk explains.

Ahto. Chasing a Dream takes the viewers on an exotic trip around the world.

Ahto Valter (1912-1991) was the first person to sail around the world under the Estonian flag. In 1930, he and his brother Kõu crossed the Atlantic Ocean (Tallinn-Miami) on a 26-foot motorless sailboat. From 1930-1933, he sailed across the ocean five times with his brothers Jariilo and Uku, among others, as his companions. He moved to the United States in the 1930s where he worked to propagate nautical tourism and as a marine inspector. From 1938-1940, he took his son, wife and a few other companions, and sailed a boat built in Estonia and sailing under the Estonian flag around the world – from New York to New York. The documentary Ahto. Chasing a Dream is written and directed by Jaanis Valk, the cinematographer is Erik Norkroos, the editors are Erik Norkroos, Kersti Miilen and Jaanis Valk, the sound designer is Horret Kuus and the producer is Erik Norkroos.

TWO ERAS, TWO STORIES The documentary is about stories from two different eras: one story is told through the diaries of Ahto’s father, Rudolf, and the other through Ahto’s own diaries. Rudolf talks about his family and Ahto growing up, and excerpts from Ahto’s diary describe his trip around the world from 1938 to 1940. One story starts where the other ends and they are tied together by a father-son relationship, the story of a family, societal changes and the war that tore their family apart. “I decided on an atypical approach to my documentary – I used parallel editing because of a sentence that Ted said. He said that his father always lived in the present and the future but never in the past. I wanted to use Rudolf to show Ahto’s developing years and who he finally grew up to be,” Valk said. “This isn’t just Ahto’s story, it’s also the story of an era. We are

Director Jaanis Valk, who worked on the project for almost nine years.

talking about a time when a whole lot was happening in the world. When one era ended, another one began. That’s the story of World War Two and how it broke up families,” Valk explains. The film shows us the restless spirit of an adventurer, his chase after a dream and his sadness. During one of his adventures, World War Two started along with the catastrophe it caused. Through the voice of Ahto’s father Rudolf we hear about the pre-war hardESTONIAN FILM


REVIEW ships. The only “talking head” style interview in the film is with Ahto’s son Ted. Valk remembers that his meeting with Ted was sad in a way. “I never heard my dad talk in Estonian,” Ted said unhappily and explained how sad it made him to never have had the opportunity to meet his grandparents. The footage from the 1920s to 1930s shows a type of Estonian repelling attitude. We see young, enterprising Ahto get rejected from the yacht club and how he gets recognition abroad sooner than he gets it at home. That’s an attitude we still haven’t been able to shake, Valk admits. “It does bother me that we don’t know how to support our thinkers or innovators here. But as soon as they’ve come up with something – whether that’s Skype or the Minox camera – we beat our own chests and say that they are made in Estonia. We should improve our ability to recognize people who do things with a sparkle in their eye. Who cares if they’re not successful right away? He gives a specific example of this with Ahto’s attempts to get funding for a boat motor from the Cultural Endowment. His application comments read: “We were unable to inform him of our negative decision because he had already left for America.” “Ahto couldn’t wait to find out if they would fund him or not. He had a restless nature,” Valk says.

COLORFUL BROTHERS Even though the documentary is focused on Ahto and his trip around the world, the film sheds light on the whole untraditional Valter clan: Ahto’s brothers were also sailors and travellers who searched out foreign lands and didn’t want to stay behind in Estonia. Valk says there’s enough material for a film just about Valter’s brothers. “Jariilo Valter married an Italian woman who he met when he fell overboard in the Mediterranean Sea and the woman saw him and saved him. He later married that same woman. Kõu



World traveller Ahto Valter (on the right) with his brother Kõu.

Valter’s boat Ahto had Estonian national colours painted on the side.

The film shows us the restless spirit of an adventurer, his chase after a dream and his sadness. saved a whole lot of Estonians by taking them West on his boat when the Russian Army invaded. He later fled to Sweden and then the United States with his wife and children,” Valk explains. But when asked what kind of a person world traveller Ahto Valter really was, Valk falls deep into thought. “He was a restless dreamer. Estonia was too small for him. Not because of the state or the people, but just because you find yourself stuck at a certain point. You want freedom and discover that your sails will give it to you. Out at sea, he felt responsible for his own actions and independent of anyone else’s decisions. That was his biggest reason for sailing,” Valk says. “But if you are asking about Ahto’s personality, then, goodness, I don’t know. I can guess, and I’ve tried to do that in the film, but who knows what the truth really is,” Valk admits. EF


a Child’s Eyes Even though several Estonian films have tried to show the effect of the Stalinist repressions recently, it’s still not an easy feat. This is especially so if you do it through a child’s eyes and by adapting a novel where a woman tells her own story of being separated from her mother as a child.


ow does one translate literary self-reflection to the screen? How do you avoid the dangerous precipices of showing violence in a film with child actors and children clearly as one of the target groups? How can you tell the younger generation about Soviet repressions when they have grown up in a world governed by visual culture and their historical memory is formed by films and not novels or

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

history books? These are surely the questions that Moonika Siimets and her team thought about when making The Little Comrade. Author Leelo Tungal’s stories about her childhood after the war, her mother’s imprisonment and growing up with her father have found their traditional place in our common, Estonian memory. Her stories look at Stalinist repressions through the viewpoints of the women and children. It seems that the journey to this world was en-

The Little Comrade By Eneken Laanes First published in Sirp



REVIEW It’s an extremely nuanced and moving attempt to talk about post-war repressions in the form of a film for the whole family.

couraged by Tungal’s strong text, which offers colourful scenes and powerful imagery. Siimets has taken on a tough assignment by deciding to stay true to Tungal’s original text – not only when it comes to the subject matter and symbolism but also in the way it depicts a child’s psychology – so she has tried to translate the main character’s internal monologue into film language. And this difficult decision has become the biggest strength of the film. We are shown the post-war repressions and inescapable atmosphere of fear through the eyes of a child: between the adult’s feet under the table, through a lace curtain, or behind a glass door that muffles the conversation on the other side. Cinematographer Rein Kotov often makes us look into the deep, expressive eyes of Helena Maria Reisner, who plays the main character Leelo, as if to say that these are the eyes that are watching these post-war years unfold. These are the eyes seeing the strangers taking her mother away,



Helena Maria Reisner as Leelo in The Little Comrade.

the strange reaction by her grandmother and aunts (she can tell something is wrong but not exactly what) and the people who Leelo can’t decide whether to trust or not. Our eyes move to the toys, the shoes, the handbags, the camera stopping on each to give us the viewpoint of a little girl. There are phone conversations where we hear the other side, just like Leelo, and others where the adults are talking and the audience only hears one side, like Leelo does. We don’t see any of the garish violence (which other Estonian films and TV series have made the mistake of focusing too much on) but that makes Siimets’s mastery of the psychological violence all the more effective. There is a central scene in the film where Leelo has to decide whether to trust someone who went to school with her mother and father but who took her mother away and has now come back to ask about her father’s sports medals from the First

Estonian Republic. A child’s viewpoint also gives the film something that’s not exactly levity, but certainly a child’s unflagging cheerfulness. There are a lot of comical situations, and the humour seems to help the characters keep on living. Siimets shows the life of a regular girl after the war – she wants to be a Pioneer and is happy when she gets to go on a trip, to a birthday party or to Tallinn. But her life is shadowed by the curse of the political situation, which the adult world reflects despite the little girl’s endless optimism, especially in the reminders of the absence of her mother. The film intertwines psychologically tense moments with the child’s happy ones, giving it a rhythm where slow and thoughtful scenes are interchanged with singing, running at will or speeding. The tempo and mood are also constantly supported by Tõnu Kõrvits’s wonderful music. It is largely thanks to Tambet

Tuisk and his unsurpassable performance as Leelo’s father Feliks (which makes the film all the more psychologically convincing) that we are able to see the impotence adults felt after the war, something that has stayed with families whether they were directly affected by the repressions or not. What do you say to your daughter when she’s waiting for her mother to be freed and believes that her mother isn’t coming back because she hasn’t been a good little girl? The filmmakers have stayed true to the main motive in Tungal’s story. Where can they find the answers to her questions? I think one of the most moving scenes in the film is Leelo and her father’s conversation after she realizes that her mother won’t make it back by her first day of school. Her father has to tell her that he – the last support system, which Leelo is most afraid of losing – doesn’t know what to tell her. That, despite her every hope that her father could magically pull the things she most yearns for out of his hat, there is nothing that he can do. Like one of my little companions said after the film: they should have just told Leelo right away that her mother couldn’t come back. Many of the historical films of the last decade seem to be directed more to an international audience than a local one. They’ve tried to

Tambet Tuisk as Feliks and Helena Maria Reisner as his daughter Leelo.

talk about Estonian history to those who don’t know much about it. But the filmmakers behind The Little Comrade have worked hard to weave together everyday elements that are familiar to the Soviet generations through the music and production design – such as the songs, toys, sugar sandwiches or candy from the era. The usual suspects from our cultural memory, like the hints at a white ship and the slips worn as dresses by the officers’ wives, are less convincing. The shots of nature and unique shooting locations are effective and give an outside viewer a complete overview of Leelo’s world while giving Estonians that familiar sense of recognition. There’s no point looking for anything experimental in The Little Comrade. It’s an extremely nuanced and moving attempt to talk about post-war repressions in the form of a film for the whole family,

which can also be shown to children. The wide target group is perhaps also responsible for the ending, which is a completed, if not completely happy, one. From the internal logic of the film, the ending might have remained open but perhaps the younger viewer needs a tough story like this to come to a conclusion. Being so true to Leelo Tungal’s personal story, the film also elevates it and gives it a much wider audience. Nowadays, novels don’t reach as many people as they used to. And knowing how much history teachers thirst for serious material to teach young people about historical events, I’m glad that Siimets and her team have given us a complete and consistent film, which is much more intelligent and perceptive than any of the other recent films attempting to talk about the violent history experienced by Estonia in the twentieth century. EF ESTONIAN FILM



The Little Comrade


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 Domestic premiere: March 23, 2018 100 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Amrion Riina Sildos Phone: +372 677 6363 E-mail: SALES Eyewell Michael Werner E-mail:





ortugal is profound and smooth like a summer’s night. It is a physical progression and a mental journey towards something other than a mere geographical location on a map. Karina and Martin are in a pleasent relation where everyday life flows in an effortlessly accustomed way and no small misbehaviours can shake it’s rush. Life is good. Perhaps it’s this perfection and frequent patterns that make them finally pose a question - is everything to be expected in life? This is a story about following the yearning of your soul. Longing for something other than the present and having the courage to be deliberately lost. The characters in the film are looking for a place of love and understanding in the world. Their journey is playful, mellow and thoroughly human. It is full of mis-

FILM INFO takes, but also possibilities for new beginnings, and colorful personalities who all share a common goal – to find happiness. Because there is only one way home, and that is to continue travelling. This adventurous and soulful story with comedic beats is a feature film debut by acclaimed actor and stage director Lauri Lagle. DIRECTOR LAURI LAGLE is an Estonian actor and theatre and cinema director. He’s theatrical work has been critically highly acclaimed and he has been awarded numerous prizes for his works. Internationally he is mostly known for the main role in Veiko Õunpuu’s Free Range. Ballad of Approving the World (2013). Portugal is Lagle’s first feature film as a scriptwriter and director.

Original title: Portugal Genre: drama Language: Estonian Director: Lauri Lagle Screenwriter: Lauri Lagle Cinematographer: Erik Põllumaa Art Director: Kamilla Kase Main cast: Mirtel Pohla, Margus Prangel, Taavi Eelmaa, Jarmo Reha, Anne Türnpu Editors: Liis Nimik, Hendrik Mägar Producers: Tiina Savi, Ivo Felt Produced by: Allfilm Domestic premiere: April 12, 2018 112 min / DCP / 2.39 / 5.1 CONTACT Allfilm Tiina Savi Phone: +372 5399 3411 E-mail:




Fire Lily



he mystical drama thriller Fire Lily tells the story of Pia (36), an ophthalmologist, whose marriage has recently ended because she was not able to have children. As she strives to move forward with her life, Pia learns the unknown but also finds her inner strength. Unexpectedly, her deepest wish materializes, but not quite in the way she imagined it. DIRECTOR MARIA AVDJUSHKO is an Estonian actress, producer and filmmaker. Maria graduated from the Tallinn Academy of Music and Theater in the field of acting and started working as an actress at the Youth Theater immediately after school. From 1992 to 2014 she was employed as the actress of the Estonian Drama Theater. During her prolific career,

Maria Avdjushko

she has played over 50 roles in theater and over 20 film and television roles. To date, she has written and directed two experimental short films and a life-story documentary. Fire Lily is her feature film debut.

Original title: Tuliliilia Genre: drama-thriller Language: Estonian Director: Maria Avdjushko Screenwriters: Maria Avdjushko, Leana Jalukse, Al Wallcat Cinematographer: Thierry Pouget Main cast: Ingrid Isotamm, Johann Urb, Eva Eensaar, Epp Eespäev, Bert Raudsep, Adele Taska, Rasmus Kallas Art Director: Carolin Saan Composer: Tõnu Kõrvits Editor: Helis Hirve Producer: Aet Laigu Co-producers: Maria Avdjushko, Julien Madon, Bastien Sirodot Produced by: Meteoriit, Ugri Film (Estonia), Single Man Productions (France), Umedia (Belgium) Domestic premiere: May 11, 2018 85 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Meteoriit Aet Laigu Phone: +372 58258962 E-mail: SALES The Yellow Affair E-mail:






ihkel and Igor dream of moving from their home in Estonia to the land of opportunity and justice, beautiful Iceland. However, events take an unexpected turn and Mihkel ends up being betrayed by Igor, his oldest friend. It is a story of Biblical betrayal, reenacted in a dark, real-life tragedy as Igor, a modern-day Judas, sells Mihkel out for material gain. DIRECTOR ARI ALEXANDER ERGIS MAGNÚSSON was born in Reykjavik in 1968. He studied at the Sorbonne University and earned a BFA in fine arts from Parsons Paris School of Art and Design (1991-1996). Since then, his paintings, installations and video work have been shown in Scandinavia, France, England, USA, China, Argentina, Russia and Siberia. In recent years, Magnússon has focused on his documentary films

Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon

- The Cultural Thriller Movie Series. His documentary Screaming Masterpiece, featuring by Björk and Sigur Rós was nominated for the Nordic Council Film Prize (2005). Mihkel (2018) is his first full feature film.

Original title: Halastjarnan Genre:thriller Languages: English, Icelandic, Estonian Director: Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon Screenwriter: Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon Art Directors: Atli Geir Grétarsson, Eugen Tamberg (Estonian unit) Cinematographer: Tómas Örn Tómasson Main cast: Pääru Oja, Kaspar Velberg, Maiken Schmidt, Atli Rafn Sigurdarson, Tómas Lemarquis Sound design: Øistein Boassen Composer: Gyda Valtysdottir Editor: Davíd Alexander Corno Producers: Kristinn Thórdarson, Leifur B. Dagfinnsson, Fridrik Thór Fridriksson and Ari Alexander Magnusson Co-producers: Evelin Penttilä, Riina Sildos, Egil Ødegård Produced by: Truenorth (Iceland), Amrion (Estonia), Evil Doghouse Productions (Norway) Premiere: March 2018 96 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Amrion Evelin Penttilä Phone: +372 5552 3500 E-mail:




Captain Morten and the Spider Queen


ometimes you need to be shrinked in order to grow up. Morten is a 10-year old dreamer. His Father sails the seas on his ship, The Salamander. Morten is taken care of by Aunt Anna, who is an evil task-master. Morten plays with a toy boat with insects for crew. One day Morten is magically shrunk and awakes on his toy boat! He is thrilled to be a Captain but the bugs are as big as he is and they eerily resemble adults from his ‘real’ world.
Storm is coming and the toy ship is sinking. Morten has to save the ship and return to the real world.

Kaspar has won several awards including Cartoon d’Or in 2010.

DIRECTOR KASPAR JANCIS made his first animated film during his school years. He has been part of the creative core of several rock groups, written song lyrics and melodies. With his films,

Selected Filmography: Weitzenberg street (2003), Frank and Wendy (2005), Marathon (2006), The Very Last Cigarette (2007), Crocodile (2009), Villa Antropoff (2011), Piano (2015)

Kaspar Jancis

FILM INFO Original title: Morten lollide laeval Genre: animation, family film Languages: English (dub to Estonian, French, Gaelic, Flemish) Director: Kaspar Jancis Screenwriters: Mike Horelick, Paul Risacher, Robin Lyons, Kaspar Jancis Editing: Keith Garvey Composer: Pierre Yves Drapeau Sound design/mixing: Ciarán Ó Tuairisc Tehnique: Stop motion animation Art Directors: Kaspar Jancis, Riho Unt Producer: Kerdi Oengo Co-producers: Paul Cummins, Mark Mertens, Robin Lyons Produced by: Nukufilm (Estonia), Telegael (Ireland), Grid VFX (Belgium), Calon (Great Brittain)
 World premiere: Animafest Zagreb, June 2018 78 minutes / 2K HD / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Nukufilm Phone: +372 615 5322 E-mail: SALES Sola Media E-mail:





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:




Ahto. Chasing a Dream


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



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) Domestic premiere: March 8, 2018 94 min / HD / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Rühm Pluss Null Erik Norkroos Phone: +372 680 5640 E-mail:

More Than Life


his is the story of the last genuine rock star and poet, of his work, and of the anatomy of a punk band. Freddy Grenzmann is Estonia’s last rock star and the singer of the punk rock band Psychoterror. He’s also a poet. The rock star phenomenon is beyond ordinary norms. It’s larger than life. It can approvingly be said of Freddy that he isn’t normal – not on stage nor in life. Freddy’s oeuvre and life are equivalent – he gives everything his all. What makes Freddy interesting is not the delight of social or textual games but rather the magnitude of what he puts at stake, the possibility of completely losing himself, and the depth of foreseeable human or metaphysical distress. DIRECTOR TAAVI ARUS ( born 1978,) is Estonian documentary Director / Cameraman / Editor . He graduated from Institute of Sport Sciences in University of Tartu , but found his calling in filmmaking. Taavi has been active on the field since 2009. His recent titles include More Than Life (2018), Soviet Hippies (as cameraman, 2017), Beer Revolution (2015)

etc. He also directs music-videos and TV-commercials. DIRECTOR INDREK SPUNGIN is an Estonian writer, musician, performance artist and film director. Indrek Spungin has a tendency to promote himself as an intelligent and politically correct middle-class man, but often demonstrates an unwittingly offensive attitude towards ethnic minorities, disabled people and women. However, his various attitudes and faux-pas — cringeworthy and insulting though they may appear — are rarely maliciously intended; they are frequently the result of extreme naivety and self-delusion, combined with a tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. This is usually compounded by clumsy attempts at retractions, after realizing the insulting interpretations of his remarks. Spungin’s need to be recognized as a philosopher and intellectual is also very important. In truth, most of his statements are only direct quotations from such famous writers as George Bernard Shaw and Confucius, which Spungin has difficulties in admitting.

FILM INFO Original title: Enam kui elu Genre: documentary Langugage: Estonian Directors: Indrek Spungin & Taavi Arus Cinematographer: Taavi Arus Sound: Indrek Soe Editor: Taavi Arus Animation: BOP Animation Producer: Pille Rünk Produced by: Allfilm Domestic premiere: March 22, 2018 72 min / HD / 5.1 CONTACT Allfilm Pille Rünk Phone: +372 5082 999 E-mail:






ollection of short documentaries by female directors. The collection of short documentaries 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 29-61, who are also mothers, daughters and wives. And why not lovers or world travelers. The central symbol of the collection is the root, a vital organ. Roots don’t have leaves but they may grow buds that sprout above the ground. The root is the beginning, the origin, the starting point,

FILM INFO the cause. Roots hold on to us and feed us. Even when we are far away. Even if we have to let go of everything we’ve held on to thus far. Those who are closest to us are our roots. We are intertwined and we breathe together.

Poem of Love directed by Nora Särak At the Monastery with Mom directed by Anna Hints Flesh and Blood directed by Heilika Pikkov 40 Years Later directed by Moonika Siimets Waiting for the Miracle directed by Aljona Suržikova Wombstone directed by Kersti Uibo

Original title: Juured Genre: documentary Languages: Estonian, English, Russian Directors: Nora Särak, Aljona Suržikova, Heilika Pikkov, Anna Hints, Moonika Siimets, Kersti Uibo Screenwriters: Nora Särak, Aljona Suržikova, Heilika Pikkov, Anna Hints, Moonika Siimets, Kersti Uibo Animations by: Anu-Laura Tuttelberg Composers: Maarja Nuut, Hendrik Kaljujärv Producer: Ülo Pikkov Produced by: Silmviburlane Domestic premiere: May 2018 90 min / DCP / 5.1 CONTACT Silmviburlane Ülo Pikkov Phone: +372 5648 4693 E-mail:



Bridges of Time


n the beginning of 60s behind the Iron Wall a new generation of filmmakers in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia challenged the Soviet dogma of propaganda newsreels back then called documentaries and turned documentary filmmaking into a form of Art. They explored metaphor, promoted associative thinking, balanced facts and images in an earlier unseen and groundbreaking visual language - all that was and is called Poetic cinema. This phenomenon continues to influence and inspire generations of filmmakers and their audiences in the whole world. Half a century later we try to build bridges of time and detect how the old masters were thinking and how they managed - in the midst of that vast Soviet Solaris Ocean - to put a Human in the focus and search for the answers to the Eternal questions - the ones that every generation has to answer anew...

We re-touch, re-discover and re-visit the film worlds created by the masters of the generation 60ties. Our path leads from misty Lithuanian meadows to Latvian fisherman villages, from the Death row of Riga prison to the desserts of Israel, from the Midsummer bonfires of Estonian islands to 235 000 000 faces behind the Iron Wall. DIRECTOR AUDRIUS STONYS is a globally acclaimed Lithuanian documentary filmmaker. In 1989 Stonis graduated from the Lithuanian State Conservatoire, where he was taught by Lithuanian film legend Henrikas Šablevicius. In 1990 Stonys completed a masterclass of Jonas Mekas in New York. In 1992 he was awarded a Felix Award from the European Film Academy for his documentary Earth of the Blind, and in 2002 he received the Lithuanian National Prize of Culture and Arts. Stonys’ documentary Ramin, which was created in collaboration with VFS films, was the Lithuanian nomination for the Oscar in 2012. DIRECTOR KRISTINE BRIEDE is as a screenwriter, producer, director and cinematographer for various cultural, artistic and social integration projects. Briede was one of the founders of the culture and information centre K@2 in 2000 and long-term director of the Karosta in Liepaja, a historically degraded zone. In 2006 the centre received a Ministry of Culture award in the category Culture for the Development of the State.

FILM INFO Original title: Laika tilti (LV), Laiko tiltai (LT), Ajasillad (EE) Genre: creative documentary Languages: Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian Directors: Audrius Stonys, Kristine Briede Screenwriters: Kristine Briede, Audrius Stonys Co-screenwriters: Ramune Rakauskaite, Arunas Matelis, Riho Västrik Cinematographers: Valdis Celminš, Audrius Kemezys, Joosep Matjus, Janis Šenbergs, Laisvunas Karvelis Sound design: Artis Dukaļskis Editors: Kostas Radlinskas, Andra Doršs Producer: Uldis Cekulis Co-producers: Arunas Matelis, Riho Västrik Produced by: VFS Films (Latvia), Studio Nominum (Lithuania), Vesilind (Estonia) To be released: July 2018 80 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Vesilind Riho Västrik Phone: +372 507 8067 E-mail:




The Verging



In a slightly ragged Estonian village life circle’s centrifuge is at its full swing. There is a need to spin along in order to survive. One autumn day father leads his son to the heart of the centrifuge where childhood comes at a crossroads with the mysterious path to manhood. DIRECTOR KASPAR AINELO graduated from Baltic Film and Media School with BA in film production and Tallinn University with MA in Communication, Advertising and Imagology. Last few years he has worked at film production company Kinosaurus Film. The Verging is Kaspar’s first short film as a director.

Kaspar Ainelo

Original title: Pööripäev Film genre: drama, short film Languages: Estonian Director: Kaspar Ainelo Screenwriter: Kaspar Ainelo Cinematographer: Mattias Veermets Art Director: Gerda-Katrina Samm Main cast: Romet Liig, Meelis Rämmeld Sound design: Kauri Lemberg Editors: Jette-Krõõt Keedus, Marion Koppel Producers: Kaspar Ainelo, Peeter Urbla Produced by: Exitfilm Domestic premiere: September 2018 10 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / Stereo CONTACT Exitfilm Kaspar Ainelo Phone: +372 5691 3055 E-mail:



Strawberry Eaters


fantasy film about two strawberry farmers whose field is destroyed by ravenous snails.The couple tries to start a new life in the city but when the woman announces they’re expecting a child, the paranoid man suspects that snails are behind that as well. DIRECTOR MATTIAS MÄLK after graduating the Estonian Academy of Arts, Mälk has worked as an artist on Eesti Joonisfilm projects. He made his director’s debut with the film Northern Starfish (2014), followed by the fantasy film Strawberry Eaters (2018). He also does 3D modeling and has worked as a character animator.

Mattias Mälk

FILM INFO Original title: Maasikaõgijad Director: Mattias Mälk Screenwriter: Mattias Mälk Animators: Heta Jäälinoja, Paula Mauer, Mattias Mälk Editor: Mattias Mälk Composer: Liina Sumera Sound design/mixing: Horret Kuus Tehnique: drawn animation Producer: Kalev Tamm Produced by: Eesti Joonisfilm World premiere: Brussels Animation Festival 2018 15 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Eesti Joonisfilm Phone: +372 677 4228 E-mail:




Mary and 7 Dwarfs


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 pĂśialpoissi 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: BNFF Shorts 2017, Tallinn 13 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Nukufilm Kerdi Oengo Phone: +372 615 5322 E-mail:

Good Shepherd


brahim is a simple, kind-hearted man whose main source of income is raising sheep. He lives with his family in the Middle Eastern mountains. The last few years have been particularly wretched and illnesses have struck his flock causing many animals to perish. There seems to be no end in sight to these calamities. One day, Ibrahim’s younger brother Omar calls him and in a carefree tone asks to use a building on the edge of their father’s farm for something that Ibrahim does not want to hear anything about… DIRECTOR EVAR ANVELT has been working in the film industry for the last 15 years and is one of the founders of Nafta Films. He has worked various roles in production and post-production, specialising in colour grading. Evar is also

Evar Anvelt

a musician and often composes music for his own film projects. He has directed many commercials and while Good Shepherd is his first short film, Evar currently has multiple projects in development, including a feature film.

FILM INFO Original title: Hea karjane Genre: drama, short film Languages: Arabic, English, Estonian Director: Evar Anvelt Screenwriters: Evar Anvelt, Andres Peets Cinematographer: Meelis Veeremets E.S.C. Art Director: Farah Naboulsi Main cast: Said Serhan, Tarek Yaacoub, Theo Bou Harb, Mohammad Akil Sound design: Matis Rei Composers: Evar Anvelt, Maarja Nuut Editor: Marion Koppel Producers: Esko Rips, Diana Mikita Produced by: Nafta Films Domestic premiere: September 2018 15 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Nafta Films Phone: +372 525 6323 E-mail:




Beqaa VR



eqaa VR is a 7-minute virtual reality (VR) short movie experience loosely inspired by the real life experience of 7 Estonian cyclists held captive by terrorists in Beqaa Valley in Lebanon for 4 months in 2011. In this psychological short movie, the viewer is put in the shoes (or rather, eyes) of an Estonian hostage, who is held captive in a tool shed together with other hostages and their captors. Unaware of their fate and subject to verbal and physical interrogation, the hostages are plotting their escape. Shall they summon up the courage to go for it? Are they willing to face the consequences should it all go horribly wrong? DIRECTOR RAIN RANNU is Estonian technology entrepreneur and

Rain Rannu

film-maker, interested in exploring the intersection of creativity and technology. His directorial debut road-movie comedy Chasing Ponies was the most successful independent movie in Estonian cinemas in 2016

Original title: Bekaa VR Genre: VR Languages: English, Arabic, Estonian Director: Rain Rannu Screenwriters: Rain Rannu, Lauri Lippmaa Cinematographer: Michal LoveckĂ˝ Art Director: Dalia Yassine Main cast: Ott Kartau, Riho Vahtras, Oday Toufaily, Joseph Wehbeh Sound design: Kristjan Kurm Composer: Janek Murd Editor: Sander Somma Producers: Esko Rips, Diana Mikita Produced by: Nafta Films Domestic premiere: September 2018 7 min / Virtual reality CONTACT Nafta Films Phone: +372 525 6323 E-mail:






n this cold world an innocent joke can disengage an avalanche.

DIRECTOR MARTA PULK Born in 1988 is and Estonian directoreditor who graduated with MA from Baltic Film and Media School in 2014. Marta also studied directing at Escole Soperior Artistica de Porto in Portugal from 2012-2013. She has edited number of feature films and documentaries and has directed two documentaries as a director. True is her first short film as a director.

Marta Pulk

Original title: Omad Genre: drama Languages: Estonian, Russian Director: Marta Pulk Screenwriter: Marta Pulk Cinematographer: Sten Johan Lill E.S.C. Art Director: Kamilla Kase Main cast: Tiina Tauraite, Sten Karpov, Rea Lest, Tiit Lilleorg Sound design: Matis Rei Editor: Hendrik Mägar Producer: Karolina Veetamm Produced by: Kinosaurus Film Domestic premiere: September 2018 15 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Karolina Veetamm Phone: +327 5196 8064 E-mail:






married couple is faced with an unusual dilemma when a stranger asking for help appears on their doorstep. We start with two parallel storylines – Darius, a Middle-Eastern backpacker exploring the Estonian backcountry; and the quiet morning of Jaan and Kaia, an older married couple. Darius witnesses a crime in the woods and takes a photo of it. The criminals give chase and Darius ends up on the doorstep of Jaan and Kaia, begging for help. The foreigner makes Jaan suspicious and he refuses to help. However, when the criminals appear at the door as well, we realize that the main thug is the couple’s son, with who their relationship has festered. Kaia has given up hope and tells Jaan to let Darius in, but Jaan

FILM INFO decides to remain impartial, therefore losing the respect of both his son and his wife and becoming a traitor to both. DIRECTOR PHILIP KAAT studied film at Lancaster University and currently works as a videographer in the Estonian film industry. He has worked on a number of feature films in the camera department and Traitor is his debut as a director. DIRECTOR ALI MONIRI Studied creative writing at Lancaster University. He has written a number of scripts and co-produced a feature in England. The short film Traitor is his debut as a director.

Original title: Reetur Genre: thriller, drama, short film Languages: Estonian, English Directors: Philip Kaat, Ali Moniri Screenwriters: Philip Kaat, Ali Moniri Cinematographer: Marcin Kukielski Art Director: Liina Laigu Main cast: Raimo Pass, Tiina Mälberg, Saeid Behbahaninia, Imre Õunapuu, Jaan Roose Sound design: Henri Kuus Editor: Sander-Kalle Somma Producer: Aet Laigu Produced by: Meteoriit Domestic premiere: September 2018 10 min / DCP / 5.1 CONTACT Meteoriit Aet Laigu Phone: +372 5825 8962 E-mail:




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