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

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2/2019

NEWS INTERVIEWS REVIEWS

Tiina Lokk The Woman Behind PÖFF

Tanel Toom

The Man of the Hour

Martti Helde About Silence and Secrets

Marianne Kõrver Exploring the Minds of the Composers

FEATURED FILMS: Truth and Justice I Scandinavian Silence I The Riddle of Jaan Niemand I Captain Morten and the Spider Queen I Tõnu Kõrvits. Moorland Elegies I To Share or Not to Share I The Wind Sculpted Land


FOREWORD

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onsumer appetite for films and television programmes is growing across the world. This presents opportunities for a country like Estonia with its remarkable tradition of creative storytellers and increasingly self-confident film industry. The increasing pace of technological change, important though it is, should not distract us from focusing on the creative potential of our people and the development of their storytelling skills. Estonia has moved from a low-capacity country in Europe for film production to one of medium capacity alongside such countries as Belgium, Iceland, Ireland and the Netherlands.* This is a very welcome development and potentially makes Estonia significantly more attractive to companies seeking the kind of locations we offer, along with our attractive cash rebates. But if we want to grow our film industry on a sustainable basis, we need to be much more than a subcontractor simply servicing international productions. We need to nurture our indigenous creative talent and give them the opportunity to work on international film productions, and to display their imagination and vision to broad and varied audiences across the world. Over the past five years, funding from the Estonian Film Institute has supported many Estonian film directors. Our films have broken domestic box office records and enjoyed success at international film festivals. Our talented filmmakers are the foundation of the future Estonian film industry. We need to nurture them. It is a skill to see the world and reflect it through a very personal experience. However, the vision that underlies good storytelling must be learned, deepened and fine-tuned. It takes years of work. Achieving great results requires a lot of time, patience and support. It is a process that involves hesitation and doubts, self-reflection and discovery, various refinements, constant and consistent thinking, investigation of details, while keeping the whole picture in focus. The finished work - the film itself - has to be capable of finding its audience. Some films may not get large crowds, but are very important for a particular group of people. Today, Estonian films have viewers around the world. And we must not forget that a single viewer is as important as the masses. Edith Sepp, CEO of Estonian Film Institute * Source: Media Program Overview, Towards a Definition of Level playing field for Creative Europe MEDIA, Brussels, 27.02.2019

Content 4

TALENT Ester Kuntu. A Rising Star

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DIRECTOR Tanel Toom. Mr Success

11 NEWS Undergods in Production 12 NEWS Estonian Film Celebrates 12 NEWS Two Nikas for

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an Estonian Co-Pro

14 COVER STORY Martti Helde.

Is Silence Golden?

19 NEWS Childhood on the Water 20 DIRECTOR Marianne Kõrver –

A Time for Reflection

23 DOCS Estonian Docs at Festivals 23 DOCS Ice & Fire Docs

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24 IN FOCUS Tiina Lokk. A Guide in

the Black Nights

30 ANIMATION What’s Happening in

Estonian Animation

32 NEWS Raggie in Production 33 STATISTICS Estonian Films Show

Strength in Numbers

34 FUNDS How to Find Money

in Estonia

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36 REVIEW Captain Morten

and the Spider Queen

38 REVIEW The Riddle

of Jaan Niemand

41 REVIEW The Wind

Sculpted Land

45 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: film@filmi.ee I filmi.ee Editor in Chief: Eda Koppel Contributing Editor: Maria Ulfsak (Eesti Ekspress) Contributors: Aurelia Aasa, Tiit Tuumalu, Filipp Kruusvall, Mirjam Mikk Translation: Lili Pilt Linguistic Editing: Paul Emmet Design & Layout: Profimeedia Printed in Adverts Cover: Martti Helde, photo by Virge Viertek, ESTONIAN FILM

ISSN-2585-674X

Beyond the Money...

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TALENT

A RISING STAR

Ester Kuntu Ester Kuntu (28) is a rising star in Estonian cinema. Two films that she played in have already premiered in 2019 – Hardi Volmer’s The Real Life of Johannes Pääsuke and Tanel Toom’s Truth and Justice, which became the most watched film of re-independent Estonia. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Riina Varol and Allfilm, Alexandra Film, Kopli Kinokompanii

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The End of the Chain

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ster plays one of the central roles in the film – the tragic Mari, who starts out as a farmhand and later rises up to be the matron of a large farm, but pays a bitter price for it. Ester, are any of your film roles particularly important or meaningful to you? Which ones and why?

Right now, it’s Mari from Truth and Justice. It was my first large, important role in a film. The casting took place while I was still in Drama School and we started shooting a year and a half la­ter. The preparation for the role and working with the material was long and thorough. By now, I’ve carried Mari with me for three and a half years. Who is Mari? What kind of a person is she, what are her biggest internal conflicts? How easy or difficult was the role for you?

The author of the original novel, A. H. Tammsaare writes: “Mari has a pitiful, soft heart; her lips are often set and her eyes are ever wet”. To me, she is the embodiment of timeless pain, beauty, vitality, ancient care and warmth, vice and passion. The experience of living through one woman’s life from childhood to being a mother over some twenty-five years was an enormous journey. Of course, understanding the pain and regret in her soul meant finding my own pain and dealing with it, but that’s part of the job. Finally, I realized how much this search reflected back on me and how much she had to teach me – what more could I want from a role! 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?

Yes, I’ve said “no” to some roles. The sto-

The Real Life of Johannes Pääsuke

Truth and Justice

ry or the director’s vision really have to speak to me. When the material is strong, it gives you a good footing and when there’s also a good director involved, then the work can be a great pleasure. I also find it very important to have similar views and a creative understanding with the people I work with, especially the director. I believe that trust is one of the bases of a creative atmosphere.

endless searching and fine-tuning. A film crew is watching, and they are often very close so that sometimes it can feel like they are the audience, but they’re not. I think that our work in films where we are often physically and spiritually very naked wouldn’t work if we didn’t lose ourselves in it. On stage, you can’t forget your­self because you have to make sure that the last row of seats can hear and see you. The theatre doesn’t always demand the same personal approach to creating a character that film does. Film is tinkering, detailed, delicate, intimate. Our job is to make the private public. I believe strongly in preparation for films as well – that should also be a period of analysis and a process together with the actors. I think we could use more of that kind of an attitude and those skills in Estonia.

Film is tinkering, detailed, delicate, intimate. Our job is to make the private public. Theatre or film? And what is it about each that attracts you?

If I start to compare, it will make me start to generalize, and I don’t want to do that. Very different types of theatre and films are made. But I’ll try my best to answer the question. In theatre, my favourite time is the rehearsals, the analysis. A group of people can disappear into the material for months, spending every day in the rehearsal room and creating new spaces and moments there. That feeling of an isolated world, when you are away from everything and forget time and your real life, is beautiful. Unfortunately, not every play is made that way. In film, there is more truth, or an attempt to portray truth. Your work with one glance can have deep meaning and fascination and last for hours. The feeling of going so fully into something that you will never have to repeat has a certain mystery and magic to it. I personally like this form of working “not for an audience”. The playing, the disappearing, the

Is there a director outside of Estonia whose films you would like to act in, or whose work you admire, is important to you, or has influenced you? Why?

I like different authors. I’ve been strongly influenced by atmospheric films where the image and frame tell you something so strongly that you don’t need the acting. It often feels like dance theatre in the sense that it is such a powerful visual experience. On the other hand, I love being shaken, touched and moved – which demands very strong directors and actors. Pawel Pawlikowski, Andrey Zvjagintsev, Abdellatif Kechiche, Cristi Puiu – I’m attracted to the observant way that they approach people and, of course, their ability to show people the way they are – up close and repugnant – without embellishment. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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DIRECTOR

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uccess

Tanel Toom received an Oscar nomination for his student film The Confession (2010). In the beginning of 2019, he premiered the epic period drama Truth and Justice, which quickly became the most-watched Estonian film. By Aurelia Aasa Photos by Virge Viertek

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his summer, he starts shooting his second feature, Gateway 6, which is an international co-production between Estonia, the UK and Germany. The director shares his views on filmmaking and life.

Truth and Justice is set in 19th century Estonia and follows Andres, a hardworking man who is trying to achieve his dreams. Yet, while building his dream life, he forgets what really matters – love. What captivated you about this story, originally written by the Estonian writer A. H. Tammsaare?

I was most captivated by the story and the protagonist – by how controversial Andres’ character is. He is not the typical, positive hero. There is a lot that’s questionable about how he acts and the man he becomes in the second half of the film makes him become difficult to love. At the same time, the viewer needs to understand him and have sympathy for him, and hopefully feel sorry for him by the end. The first time I read the book, it became clear that it wouldn’t be easy to bring that character to the screen. At the same time, my own favourite films like There Will Be Blood or Taxi Driver have characters who aren’t easily lovable. You want to watch them because they are captivating and determined – when a character wants something so willfully and acts so strongly to move towards his goals, it’s interesting to watch. It’s no longer a question of whether you love him or not, you’re still captivated.

And the themes, of course – the topic of loneliness, which is also tied to the character’s journey. This story clearly shows how unnoticeable it can be when you start doing something for and about everyone else but everything goes wrong. Andres started his journey in the name of his family but, in his quest to achieve his dream, he forgot why he started at all – his family. It’s a very tragic story. For me, it was immediately clear that this is a tragedy. That’s what fascinated me. The film fits today’s political and social climate where everyone stubbornly goes after their own truth and justice. In that sense, the title of the film hits the mark.

That’s true and, interestingly enough, the story also points out that everything has two sides. The question is where to draw the line. If we talk about the main character, Andres, then he’s very stubborn and unyielding in his actions and goals as he tries to keep moving towards his dreams. Those can be seen as very positive characteristics. But what if the success you hope for never comes? Should you change course? Or just keep doing even more of the same – working? Andres chooses the latter. And the scale starts to quietly tip towards the point where everything else starts to suffer because of these “dreams”. When does it become unhealthy for yourself and others? When do you start to lose the things that might be more important to you than achieving your dreams? All of that starts to happen because of those same personality traits that Andres has. ESTONIAN FILM

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Photo by Heikki Leis

TALENT DIRECTOR

The director’s job is to tell a story, to create an emotion. With this story, it’s important to understand the historical context. The family can’t move to the city because they have no way of making a living there. On the other hand, it was the first time in their lives that they were able to buy something that belonged to them.

Yes, at that time, Estonian people had their first opportunities to buy their own farms – the first chance to be their own masters and own the land. The film’s main characters are neighbours Andres and Pearu who are the first generation to work for themselves. They bought their homes with debt but the work they did there had new meaning. Freedom gave them a strange set of blinkers that kept them slogging away toward their goals. Which also fostered the bitterness they felt when their families didn’t understand their efforts. This was a very large-scale project. You had 75 shooting days, several locations and the film is full of powerful special effects.

The number of locations was also affected by the fact

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Tanel Toom (behind the camera) on the set of his debut feature, Truth and Justice.

that many of the locations were spread out across a large area. Robber’s Rise – the main location – was made up of about 6 or 7 locations and it took a lot of time to move between them. If you look at it that way, then the number of locations was much-much bigger. We knew from the beginning that we would need a lot of special effects because it is impossible nowadays to find a solitary mountain that’s the right size with nothing built on it, and is located in the middle of a marsh. Robber’s Rise is one of the main characters in the film and it’s very important to the story that it is a wet and rocky and god forsaken hill in the midst of marshes and bogs. In addition to the main location, we had to build a 19th century village with a pub, a parish house and everything else. So it became clear very early on that we would have to support all of that with special effects. This film took place in a solitary farm but your next film, Gateway 6, takes place in the middle of the water.

Yes, that’s an interesting parallel. The last film took place mainly on an isolated mountain surrounded by marshes and bogs, and my next film will take place on an isolated tower in the middle of an endless ocean. That’s even more depressing.

(Laughs.) I suppose so. But there’s no way around it. Gateway 6 is about four soldiers who are on a solitary tower in the middle of an endless ocean. That situation


allows them to get very existential and deep very quickly. Their main wish is to go back home but they also don’t know if home still exists. In some ways, the themes are analogous to Truth and Justice – it’s a bunch of people whose mission is to protect their home, but it becomes increasingly more questionable whether that’s really the impetus for what they’re doing or if it’s even tied to their actions any more. The main character here is uncertainty – does the enemy exist, is the home they are protecting still there – these are all very philosophical questions. How did you arrive at this screenplay?

The script was brought to me by the scriptwriter and producer through my agent in the UK. We started developing it together. The process has been very long and it has taken the story to the shape it’s in today. I was drawn at first to how few characters there are – it’s just four soldiers. I like intimate stories that take place against a very large and powerful backdrop. Truth and Justice is also the story of a family’s or one man’s tragedy but the environment where it takes place is pretty epic. Gateway 6 is intimate in the same way. It talks about a very small group, but where it takes place – you can’t go bigger. It’s in the middle of the ocean, it’s a post-apocalyptic world, maybe it’s even the end of the world. It’s the contrast between those two – the epic environment surrounding an ex-

tremely intimate and human story – that draws me to it. There are big, external events that are catalysts to the story and that shake the story, but what happens inside and between the people is what the story is actually about. It’s about human beings remaining human beings – with their simple needs for love, redemption and forgiveness. I am interested in what remains when all is gone. Having just four characters in the middle of a vast ocean is a dreamlike situation to explore. I plan to start shooting this story in July and the film should be ready by the beginning of next year. Truth and Justice came out in February. You’re starting to shoot your next film in July. You’re a fast director.

We actually started developing Gateway 6 even before Truth and Justice, which is why it’s possible to start shooting so soon. Without that development period,

THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUTH AND JUSTICE Truth and Justice is based on a novel by Anton Hansen Tammsaare – a writer, who can be described as the Estonian William Shakespeare. His Truth and Justice, an epic about Estonian life in the 19th and early 20th century, is one of the cornerstones of Estonian literature. 5-part book series carries us through mud, cold Nordic winters, short summers, love, betrayal and happiness. Above all, it’s a story of one family. Among other languages, the books have been translated into French, German and English. Although the foundation of our cultural history, Toom’s Truth and Justice is the first film, which takes us to the epicentre of the story. Toom’s Truth and Justice captures the hardship of 19th-century rural life. Yet, it’s also about the passion, stubbornness and toughness of the people. The film broke all records in Estonia when it became the mostwatched Estonian film in just a few weeks. By now, the film has gained over 255,000 admissions and a box office reaching close to 1.5 million euros.

Scenes from Truth and Justice. The film broke all the box office records in Estonian cinemas, achie­ ving more than 250 000 admis­ sions.

we wouldn’t dare delve into a completely new and unknown project so fast. If we look at Truth and Justice, which is the story of one family, and the planned Gateway 6, which is about four soldiers, it seems like you’re a director who is very centered around human relations.

Definitely. People go to the cinema to watch other people. Even action films are successful only if the audience identifies with characters who are people, not just mannequins running through explosions. The director’s job is to tell a story, to create an emotion. As the most effective way to do that (and to keep the viewer engrossed) is through sympathetic characters, then it would be foolish to ignore human relationships. Films that have neglected characters haven’t done very well. ESTONIAN FILM

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DIRECTOR Once Gateway 6 is finished, what are your next plans?

I don’t know yet. I’m looking forward to it and very excited about that time. We started Gateway 6 in 2010 and the idea for Truth and Justice came that same year. I’ve been living with those two stories for nine years now. I’m very excited to see what the new page will be for me after Gateway. I don’t know what story or film that will be, but the thrill of the unknown is there. I’m looking forward to it. One of your films takes the viewer into the 19th century, the other is a utopia. Will your third film be contemporary?

Maybe, yes. But, actually, I have a weird relationship with time. Almost all of my previous short films have taken place at an undetermined time. I never wanted to pinpoint a certain period or year. In my graduation film, The Confession, we specifically avoided certain elements – phones, computers, logos on clothes, contemporary cars… – to create a certain sense of timelessness. There have been some earlier films with an apocalyptic element to them where it’s unclear exactly where or when they take place. Truth and Justice is a bit different because it has a specific year and the place is even determined by a title card. Truth and Justice has touched the Estonian audience deeply. How important is the audience for you?

Of course I consider the audience. In the end, why make a film if no one understands it. No matter what your artform, the goal is for it to speak to someone. But would I put anything into a film just so that the audience would like it even though I’m not crazy about it myself? No. I believe I have to be the first to believe in what I’m doing. Then there’s a chance that it will work for someone else also. What are your international ambitions?

Yes, I’d like to work outside of Estonia and tell stories that I maybe can’t tell in Estonia because of language or culture or geography or budget or any other reason. But this is a journey for me – I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, what I’ll feel, what will be going on in my head, and what kind of films and stories I’ll want to tell. I think that I know but I know that I might be wrong. I’m sure that I want to try as many different things as possible but it always has to be something that speaks to me in that moment. I don’t want to do anything just to do it somewhere else or just to make a film – I don’t believe in that nor know how to do it. I’ve had offers from England, and everywhere from Argentina to China, and some of those projects have had much larger budgets than Truth and Justice, but I can’t accept a job if the story doesn’t speak to me. So my ambition, above all, is to direct stories that truly speak to me. So what does a story need for it to speak to you?

I’ve thought about that but I don’t really know in ad-

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vance what it’ll be about one or another story that speaks to me. The moment the connection happens with different stories is very different and sometimes surprising. Sometimes it won’t be until I read the script that there’s a spark somewhere deep in my soul or brain for some unknown reason. I guess they’re the stories that surprise me emotionally in some way and, thus, feel fresh that end up being the stories I want to do. So I always try to be open and let the stories and opportunities find me. So far, most of my protagonists have ended up being doomed in a way, and their stories have been painful or emotional ones. I also like to start a story in a completely different genre and then make a strong break at some moment. I like to play with the viewer. I like reversals and love playing with the audience’s expectations. EF

No matter what your artform, the goal is for it to speak to someone.


NEWS

Stranger in a Strange Land

Undergods is a collection of darkly humorous stories about failed societies and the people who inhabit them.

Chino Moya Debut Undergods Shot Partly in Estonia In the first half of 2019, Spanish director Chino Moya will complete his debut film, Undergods. Moya is known as a visual artist and author of many award-winning commercials and music videos. By Maria Ulfsak

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ndergods is his long-anticipated debut feature, which he also wrote. The film is a co-production between the United Kingdom, Belgium, Estonia, Sweden and Serbia. The shooting period started in Serbia in 2018 and concluded in Estonia in February of 2019. The film has a budget of 2.4 million euros. Undergods is produced by Sophie Venner from Vennerfilm (UK) and the Estonian co-producer is Katrin Kissa of Homeless Bob Production. “Chino Moya’s dark and apocalyptic script seemed very inspiring from the first time I read it,” said the Estonian co-producer, Katrin Kissa. “The film’s production includes five countries with the UK as the main producer. For me, personally, the biggest challenge was learning about how the UK system works because it follows

a completely different logic than the kind of European co-production I have been used to. Despite some novelty in the financing and the number of co-producers, the preparations and shooting period went smoothly, and now we must simply wait excitedly for Chino Moya’s film to reach audiences,” Kissa commented to Estonian Film. Undergods is a collection of darkly humorous stories about failed societies and the people who Chino Moya inhabit them.

It is a surrealist tale of human weakness and doomed fortune. Set in a series of unknown European cities, in each of the stories, a dysfunctional family collapses through the unexpected appearance of an otherworldly stranger. The film’s cinematographer is David Raedeker, the production designers are Marketa Korinková and Elo Soode, and the editors are Walter Fasano and Maya Maffioli. The film stars Geza Rohrig, Johann Myers, Eric Godon, Tanya Reynolds, Jan Bijvoet, Sam Louwyck, Kate Dickie and many others. Undergods is produced by Vennerfilm, Velvet Films, Homeless Bob Production, BFI Film Fund, Black Dog Films, Filmgate Films, Media Plus and Sharp House. The Estonian financiers are the Estonian Film Institute and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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NEWS The team of The Little Comrade

Estonian Film Celebrates The Little Comrade Scooped Three Prizes at Estonian Film and Television Awards

The Estonian Film and Television Awards 2019 ceremony was held on April 1st. A total of 30 honours – 15 in film and 15 in tele­ vision – were given out. By EFI Photos by Erlend Štaub

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ccording to Toomas Luhats the chairman of the EFTA jury, their work was far from easy this year. “The jury didn’t agree in almost all of the categories. Which shows that the quality of our films is high and the competition for awards is fierce,” Luhats said. Luhats also reiterated that we must not let our level drop in either film or TV: “Thanks to the Estonia 100 program, the film industry has produced exceptionally

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high quality films. Estonia has never had such quality films and TV series as this year and that has brought us very close to an international break-through. We definitely have to keep up the same level.” The award for Best Film went to Moonika Siimets’ film The Little Comrade, produced by Riina Sildos from the company Amrion. The same film brought Siimets the title of Best Director and Tõnu Kõrvits the award for Best Composer. The Best Documentary Film was deemed to be Ahto: Chasing a Dream directed by Best Actor Jaanis Valk. The film Reimo Sagor also won the price for

The team of Ahto: Chasing a Dream

Best Editor, which went to Erik Norkroos, Kersti Mii­ len and Jaanis Valk. The Best Animation Film award went to Sergei Kibus’s clay animation film Teofrastus, which also brought the award


Natalya Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov

The team of Teofrastus

Two Nikas for an Estonian Co-pro Best Actress Ingrid Isotamm

The script­writers of Rodeo

for Best Production Design to Pärtel Tall. The Best Screenwriter award went to Raimo Jõerand, Kiur Aarma and Ari Matikainen for their documentary, Rodeo, about recent historical events in Estonia. And the Best Short Film award went to Heilika Pikkov for My Flesh and Blood, which was one of the films in the documentary project Roots. The award for Best Actress went to Ingrid Isotamm for her role in Fire Lily and the Best Actor award went to Reimo Sagor for his work in the drama Take It or Leave It. The Best Cinematographers were deemed to be Joosep Matjus, Atte Henriksson and Janne Henriksson for their nature documentary The Wind Sculp­ ted Land. The Best Sound Design award went to Matis Rei for his work on Kaur Kokk’s film The Riddle of Jaan Niemand. And the same film also won the award for Best Costume Design, which went to Jaanus Vahtra. The jury also gave out an award for the Filmmaker of the Year, which went to Jaanis Valk for his work on the film Ahto: Chasing a Dream. The Estonian Film and Television Awards 2019 were organized by the Estonian Film Institute. EF

The Russian-Estonian-French co-production The Man Who Sur­ prised Everyone has won two awards from the six it was nominated for in the Nika Film Awards. The awards were given out at the end of March. The Nika Awards were founded in 1987 and are the most important film awards in Russia.

T Joosep Matjus, the director of The Wind Sculpted Land

Helika Pikkov, the director of My Flesh and Blood

he film, written and directed by Natalya Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov, was nominated for best film, best director, best screenplay, best leading actor and actress and best supporting actor. The leading actor, Yevgeny Tsyganov, received the award for best actor and Yuriy Kuznetsov was awarded for his work as the best supporting actor. The Man Who Surprised Everyone premiered internationally in the autumn of 2018 in the Venice IFF Orizzonti Program. The film received the award for Best Actress there, give to Natalya Kudryashova. Since then, the film has screened at numerous festivals and received 15 awards – after the Asian premiere at Busan, some of the awards have come from: El Gouna International Film Festival, Festival International du Film Indépendant de Bordeaux, Zinegoak Bilbao International GLT Film Festival, and so on. Mart Taniel is the cinematographer for The Man Who Surprised Everyone, the producer is Katrin Kissa from the company Homeless Bob Production. The film is produced by Pan Atlantic (RUS), Homeless Bob Production (EST) and Arizona Production (FRA). The Russian co-producer of the film is Alexander Rodnjanski who is internationally known as the producer of Andrey Zvyagintsev’s films Leviathan and Loveless. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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COVER STORY

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Is Silence

Golden? Martti Helde’s (31) new film Scandinavian Silence is about silence and complicated family relationships. Maria Ulfsak sat down with the director.

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First published in the Eesti Ekspress cultural supplement Areen Photos by Renee Altrov and Virge Viertek

et’s start at the beginning. Where did you get the impulse to make a film about silence and keeping quiet? It’s quite difficult to give those themes an audiovisual form.

The impulse came from the fact that I’ve always been interested in silence. There’s something hidden in it. Nordic people carry in them a sort of self-destructive introversion and fear of talking about personal things. I want to find out where it comes from. What is it about this latitude that makes us so closed off? In Scandinavian Silence, I was interested in the moment when all the silence we’ve amassed blows up, explodes, breaks down – and, through that moment, in what precedes the explosion and takes us that far. My premise, as I was making the film, was that silence is a lack of words, not a lack of thoughts. We really should let the tension out from time to time. Ignoring it can become unhealthy in the long run. Are you an introvert yourself?

When it comes to some things, I am, yes. Thanks to this film, I’ve observed myself from a distance, examined my relationships and tried to notice the way that I interact with my mom and brother – inevitably, some

topics make you feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t given an ability to talk about difficult subjects. We can’t talk directly about the formal side of Scandinavian Silence as we should leave that for the viewer to discover. But let’s just say that your characters also use silence as a form of communication. How do you work with actors when they have to be silent in front of the camera for long stretches of time?

With the actors, we were together searching for tools of expression you can use when there are no more words and the space is very small – in this case, a car where the two main characters spend most of the film. As a director, I’ve always tried to find supplemental means to help the actors – techniques, resources, etc. I believe that as I am making a film, I should be leading the actor to a certain point and then letting him or her go. I should trust him or her while also meeting them half way with my directorial resources. As we were preparing for the shoot, we involved a therapist to help us open up the inner space for the actors to find their means of expression through microelements and micromimicry. I sent them to a therapist who had read the script and the actors went ESTONIAN FILM

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COVER STORY

my film. I know firsthand what psychological violence is and the effect that it has on family members if you don’t deal with it. We all know that when we break our leg, we have to go to the doctor – that’s natural. But how natural is it for us to find help when it’s our familial relationships that are broken? We tend to assume that they’ll fix themselves. In any case, my family decided not to get help. We decided to remain silent. A lot of directors have a story they want to tell, then they find a visual language to match. It seems to me that filmmaking for you is a visual artform above all and that you think very visually, then place a story in the image you’ve created. Which way do you think – from form to content or content to form?

I do always start with the image, I first need to ima­ gine the space where I place the characters. What is the light like, what are the colours – if there are any. I’ve made a lot of TV commercials and that’s taught me to tell a story very quickly and commercially. Maybe because I’ve done so much commercial work, I’m washing myself clean with my arthouse (he laughs). Directing has moved in a very interesting direction in the last five or seven years. Equipment is accessible and we can try different things with shot sizes, editing, etc. Estonian films, as a rule, are built very classically when it comes to the directing. But there are more and more opportunities for telling stories visually and it seems to me that the public is looking for freshness and new approaches. And I just like to experiment, too, of course.

I do always start with the image, I first need to ima­gine the space where I place the characters. there as the characters, not as themselves. I don’t know what they did there and I didn’t intervene either. Your film talks about complicated family relationships. What kind of a family do you come from?

All I can say is that the story wasn’t taken from thin air. I know what it’s like to be silent and keep family secrets but in different ways than the specific topics in

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Rea Lest and Reimo Sagor were just students in drama school when you cast them as the leads in Scandinavian Silence. Now, they’ve both become pretty well-known. Rea was presented as a Shooting Star in the Berlin IFF and Take It or Leave It starring Reimo was the Estonian submission for the Oscars. Why did you select them?

I don’t remember what the reason was back then, probably a gut feeling. I can answer from the perspective of our present moment. There is a simple naturalness to both of them. They’re very honest actors and what you see on screen becomes very important, especially with such a so-to-say close-up film. Rea isn’t afraid to be herself, which is very valuable on screen, especially for an actress. Women are often too worried about how they look, even if their character isn’t – Rea is completely free from that burden. With Reimo, I would mention his sincerity. There is an Estonian man figuratively hidden in him – and that is very valuable. Silence plays an important role in your film but so does young composer Mick Pedaja’s original


Photo by Anna-Liisa Liiver

fell in love with the winter landscape. Actually, that decision also helped me focus more on the characters. The question of identity plays an important role in this film – of what it means to be a man. Lately, there have been a lot of disputes and changes in society revolving around that topic. Do you think it’s more difficult for men to find their identity and place in society right now?

music. Please tell me a little more about the soundscape of your film.

I knew that I wanted Mick Pedaja to be the composer from the beginning. I wrote to him: I want you to compose silence, for your music to express silence. In the cinema, silence doesn’t mean that it’s really silent. Film is an audiovisual medium. I want the film to be more than what you see with your eyes – the goal is for the sound and image to work together. A filmmaker leads the viewer through an emotional space and sound plays a very important role in that. Sound is an element that the viewer doesn’t perceive but is affected by a lot. The deafening silence of snow can only mean winter. Was that the reason your film takes place between snow-covered forests?

No! Scandinavian Silence was supposed to be in colour and take place in late autumn, during that nice, dead time of year when the grass is pressed against the ground and the colours are faded. When we started filming on November 1, 2016, everything looked beautiful. But on November 2nd, we had a thick snowfall and it wouldn’t melt. So we had to play around with things to make it a winter film. When I realized that meant I wouldn’t have colour in my film, my whole visual concept fell apart. So we had to rethink some things and make the film in black and white. This is your second black and white film in a row. Don’t you miss colour?

The colour will come to me when it’s time. I star­ ted to like the graphic nature of the black and white in Scandinavian Silence and I completely

Photo by Anna-Liisa Liiver

Yes, that is an important aspect of the film. Being a man is a very interesting topic here in the North, in our climatic zone and our time. And, actually, it’s something that I deal with every day. What does a perfect specimen of a man look like in our latitude – someone who never gets in the way or does anything wrong? What is he like, how should he act, what is expected of him?

Martti Helde working with the actors on the set of Scandinavian Silence.

You made this film on a micro-budget that got 120,000 euros support from Estonia. You also got support from abroad and the whole budget ended up at 400,000. It’s very difficult to make a full-length feature with that money, even if the film only has two actors. What did working with a micro-budget mean for you as a director?

If you think about a micro-budget film as an experiment, then it’s clever to build your film up in a way that it would be cheap to produce. The idea has to match the amount of money you have. In Estonia, people often do it the other way around – they have a story, get less money than they expected and then start scraping away at the story to get it smaller but changing it completely from what it was to begin with. We tried to accept the fact that we can’t make a historical drama, for example, with such little money, so we decided to make a small film with very select elements. But we still messed up a little because Scandinavian Silence was technically very complicated to film – moving the car on a snow-covered road, for example. The days are also very short in winter and the lack of light made our shooting days short and stressful. ESTONIAN FILM

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COVER STORY I believe that as I am making a film, I should be leading the actor to a certain point and then letting him or her go.

In the Crosswind

Actually, your next film is completely different – Masters of the Sea is a historical love story and the script was written by Livia Ulman and Andris Feldmanis.

You have made two feature films, both about difficult subjects – In the Crosswind was about the deportations and it wasn’t easy to watch and Scandinavian Silence doesn’t exactly talk about the best aspects of the human character. Why is that?

That’s actually completely by chance. It just happened to go that way. I don’t have a ten-year plan for when I’ll tackle a comedy or how to build up my career or who I should talk to in order to be more successful.

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According to the director, Scandinavian Silence was supposed to be in colour, but a thick snowfall forced him to rethink and make the film in black and white.

Yes, Master of the Sea does not have such a difficult theme – it’s a historical love story. I’m enjoying the project because I am working side-by-side with scriptwriters who I trust completely. That means that I can finally be just a director and focus on directing – something I’ve really felt lacking in my previous films because I also had the role of scriptwriter. It’s very interesting to tell a young man’s story that is set in the Viking Age, about a thousand years ago – his hesitancy and doubts are very similar to young men’s today. They are the themes of self-determination, pride and love. I’m drawn by this historical angle as well as the universality of the story. The film is based on the legend of how the Saaremaa warriors burned down the city of Sigtuna in Sweden. The historical aspect of the project motivates me. Our Estonian historical consciousness starts with the Open Air Museum, straw roofs, the song festival. We don’t think farther back because there is a gaping hole there. But our forefathers have actually been on this land for thousands of years and that’s cause to stop and think. We weren’t just running around on the fields in furs – we were a civilized and relatively democratic society. EF


Photos by Liisabet Valdoja

NEWS

Childhood on the Water

By Maria Ulfsak

In early spring 2019, veteran director Peeter Simm started production on his new feature film On the Water. The shooting period will continue this summer and autumn.

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he film is based on an Estonian bestseller and adapted to the screen by the author of the book Olavi Ruitlane. The budget for On the Water is 743,000 euros and the premiere is planned for September 11, 2020. The film is produced by the production company Filmivabrik and producer Marju Lepp. On the Water is a tragicomic look into the life of a preadolescent boy with the backdrop of small-town Estonia during the dismal year when Brezhnev died. This was a time when there was nowhere else to escape the anxieties of your end of childhood than to a lake with a fishing rod. The main character of the film is Andres, a gentle boy growing up in a small Soviet Estonian town under the strict guidance of his grandparents. The boy’s only escape from his grandfather’s strict demands is to go fishing, which he does as often as possible. Andres has no one his own age around, and his narrow source of information and closest allies are the books he reads and the so-called bigger kids in his yard: a former convict, the old, legless, an alcoholic fisherman and a simple-

minded, certifiable nut. Andres, whose mother fled to Sweden and father disappeared into the vast expanses of Russia, has a lot of questions and concerns about puberty, but no one to ask other than the pals around him, who have trouble managing their own lives. “I was fascinated with the warmth and sincerity in the book On the Water. It is captivating to adults and teenagers and was very successful, being at the top of the Estonian best-selling list for a long time. I hope the film will have similar success, be just as

Director Peeter Simm (above) and actor Andres Lepik on the set of On the Water.

captivating, comical and heartfelt, and reach viewers young and old. The colourful, suburban back yard and its lively characters – who are all outcasts, really – create a very comical and human background. The action takes place in 1982 when children didn’t disappear into the Internet and the best place for our main character to spend time is on a lake, fishing, which is that other, better world for him – the world found on the water,” producer Marju Lepp told Estonian Film. “As soon as I put down the book, I immediately knew I wanted to make it into a film so I signed a contract with the author of the novel, Olavi Ruitlane, both for the rights as well as a screen adaptation. We considered several directors but finally decided to propose the project to Peeter Simm because of his earlier similar films. Simm has a great deal of experience, knows the era and is talented in working with children,” Lepp added. The director of photography for On the Water is Manfred Vainokivi and the production designer is Eugen Tamberg. The leading roles are played by Rasmus Ermel, Kalju Orro, Maria Klenskaja, Marko Matvere and others. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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DIRECTOR

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Time Reflection A For

Marianne Kõrver is a versatile filmmaker. She was one of the directors of the TV series made in honour of the Estonian centenary, The Bank, but she is also known for her sensitive documentaries that delve into the essence of the music made by Estonia’s most important composers. By Filipp Kruusvall Photos by Virge Viertek

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he has directed for the stage, where her work includes dramas based on the works of Gustave Flaubert and Stanislaw Lem and a contemporary opera. In addition to directing, she works as a cinematographer and screenwriter. We can find one source for such versatility in her education – Marianne Kõrver graduated from the Tallinn Music High School in jazz piano and composition, but went on to study art history. She later graduated as a film director and cinematographer from the Baltic Film and Media School and finally studied directing at the Drama School. Her latest documentary, Tõnu Kõrvits. Moorland Elegies, will have its international premiere at the end of May in the musical documentary competition program DocFilmMusic of the Krakow Film Festival. Her film is a poetical and visually striking portrait of one of the most beloved, younger generation, contemporary composers in Estonia – Tõnu Kõrvits. You have made three notable music documentaries about some of Estonia’s most important composers – Tõnu Kõrvits, Erkki-Sven Tüür and Eduard Tubin. Your family back-

ground has also connected you to music and showed you how a composition is born. Is music more of a mystery and secret to you where you are trying to find meaning, or do you wish to communicate the feeling and state that accompanies music?

My early experiences with music, thanks to my father, Boris Kõrver the composer, definitely allowed me to grow up in an environment where music was one method of communication. When my father was improvising on the piano in his study, the mood in our home was different. I listened in my room, motionless, fearing that any tiny squeak of the parquet floors would ruin the moment, while silently also hoping that the moment would never end. To me, there is some kind of other dimension to the act of creating; some third level encounter with something outside ourselves. And that contact is direct; it is intellectually unexamined and uninterpreted. We don’t know for example where a thought or idea comes from. In creation, especially in music, a thought can retain its original impulse; it can remain untouched by verbalization. In that sense, composers might be like mediums. I don’t know if that’s really how it is, but I’d like to think

that it might be like that. So I prefer seeing music as something mysterious. Although I’ve asked the participants in my films to unlock that mystery by verbalizing it, my goal has never been to arrive at some kind of truth. I’m rather trying to use each personal, partial truth to show the nearly unattainable reach and extent of the mystery. A composer’s work and listening to music are introverted activities. But your film, Tõnu Kõrvits. Moorland Elegies, is very visual and communicates the state of being both a composer as well as a listener very well. What is your impulse when you start creating the structure and visual language for a film?

I’m happy if that’s how the film affected you. It was clearly not my goal nor is it my prerogative to know anything about a composer’s or listener’s state of being as they compose or listen to music. The only person whose state I can or could talk about is probably my own – about how the music has affected and resonated in me. But if my personal experience manages to touch on something universal, then maybe that might be the goal for a work of art.

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DIRECTOR

Stills from Marianne Kõrver’s documentaries: Tõnu Kõrvits. Moorland Elegies (on the left) and The Measure of Man (above).

and stage. Is genre important to you at all? What are the main sources of inspiration for you as a creative person?

In our current, very hectic world, Tõnu Kõrvits. Moorland Elegies feels like an oasis of peace and concentration that’s not at all elitist but rather emphatically democratic and human. What do you look for in particular in music and what condition do you strive towards as a person?

It usually tends to be easier to recreate a certain condition than to achieve it in the first place. As a person, I guess I’m not striving toward any certain condition, but rather enjoying a personal process that strives for a diversity of conditions. Jung calls that individuation. It’s not so much a goal as a process – to become the best possible version of yourself. If we compare that to music, then if I were an instrument – a piano for example – it would be important for me not to get stuck playing three-chord songs but to learn to use the whole keyboard. And even if I learned to understand all of the keys, then the piano also has strings, not to mention pedals. The possibilities are endless. At least I’d like to think they are. In addition to documentary films, you have made short films and were recently one of the directors of the TV-series The Bank. You have also directed for the stage. You have studied music and directing for the screen

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Just so that list doesn’t sound too monotonous or impractical, I’d add that I’ve also studied gardening and I’m currently studying psycho­ analysis. The latter in practice has taught me that other people by their very nature are inexhaustible, infinite. Any kind of attempt to frame or define or delineate them is completely subjective and arbitrary. And, yet, there is a charm to trying, at least if that delineation rises above the level of personal opinion. So I suppose I can say that my main sources of inspiration are other people – the people portrayed in my films, my fictional heroes or my colleagues. Theatre and film are collective forms of creating, and I’ve accepted some offers because the people taking part in a certain creative endeavour are important to me and I like the way that they think – like with the series The Bank or at the Von Krahl Theatre. You have directed a stage version of Stanislaw Lem’s cult novel Solaris, which deals with existential issues, but also made a documentary about our global ecological situation called The Measure of Man. How important are these larger issues to you? Should a director focus on the social impact of her creation or is she merely a neutral chronicle?

There are moments when you feel like you have a pretty good grasp of the “little questions” so maybe it’s time to have an opinion about the “bigger issues”. I just read Estonian artist Peeter Mudist’s diary where he pointedly says: “At the moment when uncertainty and eternity start to interest you more than other

things, then you’re screwed.” That’s a good thing to remember when you find yourself thinking that a sunset or reflection on the water might explain the whole universe. And even if it does, that knowledge has little value to you because it’s just a thought among many other thoughts. That’s why it’s important for me to find a balance between the personal and the eternal. On a social level, of course a director has a responsibility to the time wherein she is born. No one is able to exist outside of their own time. It’s important to notice what’s happening around you, to try to understand the reasons behind the events taking place and to have empathy for the people behind those events. For me as a director, it’s important not to assess the time I live in but to reflect it. When you become judgmental, there’s a danger of the writer turning into a journalist. But in trying to reflect your era, there is also an opportunity to rise above it and show something that exists outside of your time. I find the ability to generalize important just like the realization that small questions don’t actually differ very much from bigger ones. What would be the most characteristic sound for Estonia? What is it that makes you feel like you are here and what do you miss the most when you are away?

To me, that would be the sound of crickets on a windless July evening with the quiet murmur of the sea behind the forest in the background. EF


Ice and Fire Docs The new creative documentary workshop “Ice and Fire Docs” for Estonian and Finnish filmmakers is a joint initiative of the Estonian Film Institute, the Estonian Documentary Guild and the European Documentary Network.

Estonian Docs at Festivals To Share or not to Share by Minna Hint and Meelis Muhu premiered at Hot Docs, Marko Raat’s film Funeral Diaries in Munich. Marianne Kõrver’s new documentary is waiting for its premiere in Krakow and the nature documentary The Wind Sculpted Land will be in front of international audience at NatureVision. By Filipp Kruusvall

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ot Docs is one of the most important documentary film festivals in North America. This year, the festival’s special programme “The Changing Face of Europe” featured the international premiere of the film To Share or not to Share by Minna Hint and Meelis Muhu. The film shows Dutchman Mark searching for an opportunity for life outside of capitalism. He invites people to join a community in Tallinn where people live without money and share their skills, experiences, food and love. The Hot Docs programme also included the Latvian-Estonian co-production Inga Can Hear and the short film program was home to the international premiere of Aljona Surzhikova’s film Waiting for a Miracle. In this documentary filmmaker Aljona Surzhikova unflinchingly turns the camera upon herself and her family to capture the excitement and mayhem of the arrival of a new baby. When events take an unexpected turn, the viewer is irrevocably drawn into the turmoil. The Munich documentary festival

DOK.fest took place in the beginning of May and premiered Marko Raat’s film Funeral Diaries internationally. The film talks about Estonians in Toronto, home to the biggest diaspora of Estonians in exile. Their close-knit community grew to record size after the Second World War and thrived, with numerous churches and attention given to preserving their traditions and customs. But the decades and generations have brought changes to the Estonian congregations. Marko Raat’s film is about three clerics who head small congregations and end up presiding at more funerals than weddings these days. Last year’s Krakow Film Festival had an Estonian focus and screened seven new Estonian documentary films. This year, the festival will screen Marianne Kõrver’s newest documentary Tõnu Kõrvits. Moorland Elegies. The international premiere of the film is part of the festival’s DocFilmMusic competition programme. The hero of the film is composer Tõnu Kõrvits and his unusual, poetic and visionary music, filled with vibrating polyphony and subtle harmonies that take the listener on a mystical journey. This visually stunning documentary is also a story about the people – a fireman, a driver, a physiotherapist and even the President of Estonia – who go on this journey. The nature documentary The Wind Sculpted Land had a record number of admissions for Estonia, bringing 43,000 Estonians to the cinema. The film’s international premiere will be in the competition program of Germany’s oldest nature film festival NatureVision. Director Joosep Matjus’ film was made as part of the Estonia 100 film program. EF

“Ice and Fire Docs” is a brand new documentary workshop for Estonian and Finnish documentary filmmakers who aim to take their documentary projects to the international market. The workshop is primarily designed for film projects in development or the early stage of production.

Jesper Osmund

Mikael Opstrup

The creative director of the workshop is Mikael Opstrup, EDN Head of Studies and well-known tutor with extensive experience regarding the international documentary market. The second principal tutor will be Danish film editor Jesper Osmund, an internationally renowned professional whose documentary track record includes more than 100 film credits. The one-year workshop consists of three parts. Throughout the three sessions (all taking place in Estonia), the participants will work with different aspects of developing, producing, financing and distributing a feature-length documentary film. The first and second sessions focus on the development of narrative and visual aspects of storytelling as well as editing techniques. The last session will take place during the DocPoint 2020 festival with a special focus on promotion and distribution. The joint workshop also aims to promote the strong ties between the two countries in terms of filmmaking and encourages co-production between Estonia and Finland. For the first call of Ice and Fire Docs, 8 projects were selected from 18 applications from Estonia and Finland. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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IN FOCUS

Guide in

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THE

BLACK NIGH What can we say about gender inequality! Look at what is happening in Estonia: the head of the film institute is a woman. The head of the film school is a woman. All of the best Estonian directors last year were women. And to say nothing of the Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) – which has been run for 23 years by Tiina Lokk. By Tiit Tuumalu (PÖFF) Photos by Virge Viertek and PÖFF archive

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ongratulations, Tiina! You just became… a grandmother for the third time, if I’m not mistaken?

Thank you! Yes, it’s the third one. We had two girls, so now we got a boy. But we have one more reason to congratulate you.

Um… what is it? Because you have been in the film industry for 45 years this year. And the last 23 of those years you have been organizing PÖFF. How does it feel?

It was worse when I reached 30 years. In one fell swoop, I had been working passionately all those years as a critic, a freelance film journalist, a script doctor, helping to build up Estonian film education, teaching in schools and universities, even becoming a professor, produced and distributed films and finally founded and

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built up the Black Nights Film Festival with my team. The years flew by like mile markers on a highway… and, suddenly, 30 years had passed. It was a shock. Not that I felt old, but I thought I might like to try some other field too. I never thought that PÖFF would become and remain my long-term job. At heart, I’m a person who hates routine. Fortunately it’s tough to find routine in film work and, also, life offered me a challenge – working in parliament as a politician. When I realized that I could manage that job as well, I calmed down and the decision to switch from politics back to film came easily. So now I feel super good and 45 is just a number to me. What has kept your spirit fresh all these years?

People. The people around me, those who I meet on my journey, and curiosity. I am an incredibly curious person – and it will be the end of me yet! My children and grandchildren – it’s so interesting to watch them grow… Film is also a field

where it’s impossible to grow old. As soon as you feel yourself getting old, you have to step aside. You can’t get in the young people’s way. You have to have a clear premonition there. My children and my team won’t let me get older. They’re always giving me something new. Working on a festival is actually very creative work: the format is the same but the content changes every year. It’s like sports. If you don’t stay in shape, you can’t go back to the Olympics. You studied film theory and criticism at the Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK) and were sent through the pipes of one of the best known film schools in the world. How did you get into film and why did you make a career of it?

It’s a long story. I wasn’t very interested in film when I was young, unlike literature, theatre, history and sports medicine. Besides, the admissions exams were in Russian. I didn’t speak Russian. So I


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TALENT IN FOCUS

tried to get into university for history but I didn’t get in. By chance, I ended up working at a distribution company. We were supposed to organize a festival of sports films. Very interesting people from all over the Soviet Union came to Tallinn for it. We screened interesting films and it was all very exciting. That’s where I got the bug. I wanted to go study economics but the young filmmakers who graduated from VGIK made it clear that I was to go and study film theory and criticism. So I decided I would go when my articles on films started to get published. Back then, it wasn’t easy for a newcomer to get published in the press. Now it is. But back then it wasn’t. So it took me a year to collect a pile of articles. I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that I didn’t speak Russian. I just went even though it made me get in a fight with my father. He only bought me a one-way ticket and refused to support me. The exams I gave in English with a few Russian words mixed in - it was something legendary as official language was Russian… In any case, I got

I suppose my life has been easier because I never dreamed of a career because that never interested me.

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accepted. And the first month there I realized that this was It: I could work on everything that I loved – film, art, literature, theatre, history. I was happy. And that’s a feeling that hasn’t left me to this day. The film school in Moscow is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It used to be, and probably still is, a completely masculine institu­ tion, just like the Estonian state film studio Tallinnfilm was back then, where you became an editor after graduating. Is that where you learned to assert yourself as a woman? And how much have you had to sacrifice for that?

Back then, film was kind of like a ship – if you have a woman on board, you’re bound to sink. Women in the film world were an exception and could only mean

disaster. I suppose it was partly due to the fact that filmmaking and being in that world doesn’t leave you a lot of time for a family and children. And that’s particularly difficult for women, as it was for me. A lot of the sacrifices made were at the expense of my children, but I tried to take them to work with me as much as possible and to share the same spiritual, mental and physical space with them. But when it came to asserting myself, for a while I tried to be very masculine to make myself more credible. I wore pants, smoked, etc. But I soon realized that was nonsense. It’s important to be a professional in your field. I missed out on a few jobs or positions because of #MeToo reasons, but so what. Other opportunities soon presented themselves. I didn’t pay attention to such things, I just did my own thing and tried to do it well. Ah, I guess I still feel some of that differentiation some-


TIINA LOKK

With American composer Philip Glass

With legendary documentary filmmaker Mark Soosaar

times nowadays too, but I didn’t then, and I certainly don’t really care to pay attention to that now. I suppose my life has been easier because I never dreamed of a career because that never interested me. I got that from my father, who taught me early on to respect people but not the chairs that they sit on. There’s a lot of forced gender equality nowadays, in festival selections as well. At PÖFF, the power has always been in the hands of women – from the first festival in 1997, there were more women in power than men and without a need for any quotas. How do you feel about quotas?

I think that we definitely have to draw attention to problems – if they are real problems – through different campaigns but I believe in common sense, nature and the natural development of social

Tiina Lokk and the former president of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves

• 63 years old, mother of two daughters Martina and Triin – and grandmother to three grandchildren • Graduated in 1981 with honours from the Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK) in Film Theory and Criticism • Worked from 1981-1991 at the Tallinnfilm studio as a content editor and the vice-chairman of the art council; from 1993-2001 as the head of the distribution company Filmimax; from 1998, director of the Black Nights Film Festival • From 2011-2013, was the head of the film department at the Baltic Film and Media School; from 2012-2016, professor and developer of the film curriculum, one of the founders of the school • Member of Estonian Parliament from 2012-2015 • Content editor on more than 20 feature films • Author of articles on film, editor of books on film • Recipient of the Order of the White Star V Class, the French “Order of Academic Palms”, the Polish Golden Cross of Merit, Order of the Lion of Finland First Class Knight’s Cross, and the Tallinn Medal of Distinguished Service • Member of the European Film Academy

processes. But rules or positions do not make you sensible or give you professional knowledge. I don’t believe that a woman who is strong professionally would fall behind men. She can definitely realize her professional potential if there is something there to work with. All feminist movements could consider their activities complete when quotas started to rule the world. I would find it very humiliating as a director if I found out that my film was selected for the Cannes competition not because it was great but just to fill a quota. Women don’t need quotas to realize their potential, they need supportive social system to be able to have both - children and career. What do you expect most from a film and what do you want least?

There is a generational change taking place in Estonian filmmaking. A lot of

Tiina Lokk with her daughters Triin Tamberg and Martina Tramberg

ESTONIAN FILM

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TALENT IN FOCUS

Tiina Lokk has run Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) already for 23 years.

young directors, producers, cinematographers have found their way to films – and women, too, by the way, who don’t need any quotas and are very strong. They are young, talented and cool. I really wish Estonian cultural politicians would finally understand that Estonian film is like the soil where we should sow, meaning give money to make films and build a studio facility. Estonian films have won the hearts of local audiences. People are voting with their feet. Our films travel to festivals all around the world. But a lot of that is still based on enthusiasm and love and I’m still constantly afraid of the day when young people will get tired of believing that Estonian filmmakers will

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one day no longer be beggars who have to do miracles with the meagre money they are given. 24 films, 16 from Nordic countries. 4480 admissions, 1 cinema in Tallinn, 1 in Tartu and 1 in Narva. I supposed you’ve realized that these are the numbers from the first PÖFF in 1997. What do you remember about organizing that first PÖFF?

First of all, our first festival was a test to see if the Estonian people even need an event like that and want to see films that are different from their everyday repertory. My friends asked me right out why I was doing it and if I didn’t ever want to

make money and get rich… Wealth, of course, is a relative concept. Today, I think each of us is born into this world with a mission, a task. And I guess my karma is film – Estonian film, Estonian viewers, trying to make the world better with the tools that I’ve been given. By now, I can say that I am rich because my life has been incredibly interesting and awesome, I work in a field that I adore and I am mostly surrounded by great, spiritually rich and interesting people, my job is still also my hobby. And if that’s not enough, I have the greatest children and grandchildren. What else could you want? But what do I remember about that first PÖFF – the fax machine that rumbled like crazy when it was receiving a fax and how the whole office ran to see who it was from because it was so interesting! We organized the first festivals over the phone. We had one computer for the whole office and it wasn’t on my desk… The cinemas that we fixed up for the festival were cold and bleak but the audience still came. Our festival has been surrounded by an aura of particularly cool people from the very beginning – whether it’s the sparkle in a viewer’s eye, the volunteers, our partners or the filmmakers we have. Is it true that PÖFF was born out of protest?

Yes, it is. It was a time when all of the cinemas in Estonia were being sold and quickly privatized and there were many politicians who seriously suggested we go to the movies in Helsinki or Paris. People were seriously considering the efficacy of making Estonian films because it became clear that we couldn’t compete with Hol-


I work in a field that I adore and I am mostly surrounded by great, spiritually rich and interesting people, my job is also my hobby. lywood. A festival isn’t just a party and joyful event, it’s also an opportunity to draw attention to our problems. Those first years, we deliberately held the festival in those former cinemas where some form of projection equipment still existed. The program didn’t accept mainstream films but auteur films from as many countries as possible to prove that the world of film was more than just Hollywood. We wanted the audience to start asking what has happened to our hundreds of cinemas and why don’t the few that still remain show anything other than films from the USA? Life has shown that we were successful… Right now, there are new cinemas popping up all over Estonia. Our cinema admissions per capita is one of the highest in Europe (in 2018, there were 2.75 admissions per capita – TT) and the market share of domestic films is also very high (17.8% of admissions – TT). Let’s compare with the numbers of the 22nd PÖFF from 2018: 268 feature and 231 short films, 80,049 viewers. 5 cinemas in Tallinn, 2 in Tartu. 1,161 accredited guests and coverage in 78 different countries with a potential audience of over 1.5 billion. That’s impressive! How do you explain that?

I don’t know what to say. Other than the competitions, the structure and format of our program has remained the same for the last ten years. The competition programs changed after we got A-class festival status when we got permission from FIAPF in 2014 to have a non-thematic and geographically unlimited competition program. With that, we’ve had to build up a completely new festival using the building blocks of our old festival. I guess we must be on the right path but there’s still a lot left to do. Is Estonia big and wealthy enough to uphold a cultural event of that scale? Do people understand what an event

like this can do for a small country’s reputation?

Estonia is just right for the festival that we are organizing right now – maybe too small in some aspects. We don’t have a large market like all the other big festivals. The Estonian population of 1.3 million is largely non-existent on the film business scale and the size of a market is determined by the sponsorships – or, rather, lack thereof. But we have our audience: 80,000 is by no means a small number of viewers and we are hoping for more film fans from Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden. Our industry section, which is a very organic part of the festival, is very international and aims to develop the cooperation between Baltic Sea countries. Also, it has never been our intention to compete with Cannes or Berlin. We have our own niche and we are finding our voice. We try to do our thing and stay in our boundaries that are tangible to our local viewers and foreign guests. What makes PÖFF special? How is it different from other A-class festivals in Eastern Europe – Karlovy Vary, Warsaw and Moscow?

It’s one thing where my team and I aim to go but another thing how others see us. From the beginning, we have been a festival that has stood for developing film art from small countries. The reason is probably because I have been so closely tied to Estonian film and I know what it means for a small country to be visible among large filmmaking countries. How hard it is for Estonian films to make it on to the world map – the joy that winning PÖFF in 2017 (Temirbek Birnazarov’s “Night Accident” – TT) brought to Kyrgyzstan and how the authors were practical local heroes after that… On the other hand, auteur films are definitely more interesting than the mainstream. From the beginning, we have stood for authors and their films but

now there’s been a change – we still are deep culture event, promoting auteur films, and the same time we have become a mass culture event. Which is also evidenced by the number of auteur films shown in the repertories of regular cinemas – it’s clear that the popularity of the festival has helped to create that image. We are a festival for the people at the same time as being oriented towards the film industry – there aren’t many festivals like that… We never want to grow too big because we don’t want any of our guests to feel lost or alone. If that happens by accident, we are all very sad, just like we are saddened by films that don’t find their audience. Our whole team is crestfallen when one of our films has average viewership because none of our films are selected for the program at random. So it must be our own fault for not advertising the film well enough. Unfortunately conceited stupidity is reigning in the world. What else makes you angry?

Above all, the conceited stupidity that is usually accompanied by baseness, rampant unprofessionalism and intrigue. I don’t have time to deal with those things and I don’t feel like it either. I have so much to do that I don’t want to waste my energy on the intrigues created by vile and stupid people. And I usually don’t. I try to find another way or opportunity. Or I retreat to my country home or the PÖFF office to be among my team and my children. What makes you happy?

The sun is shining, the lovely winter weather, spring – everything to do with nature, children, beautiful people, but also a good film. I have to watch so many films a year – something like 500-600, so if a good film makes it into my day, that makes me happy. Just like a good concert or an interesting exhibit. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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ANIMATION

The Old Man Cartoon Movie

What’s Happening in

Estonian Anima? Even while it’s sunny outside, most animators are still stuck in their dark studios – drawing, working with puppets, or sitting in front of the computer screen. Or just procrastinating, using the excuse that the work is rendering… That’s all part of the magic. By Aurelia Aasa

E

stonia, the land of surreal animations, is definitely working hard on the animation front, with several films in production and specifically two animated features – one dark comedy and one heart-melting children’s film.

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ESTONIAN FILM

The Old Man Cartoon Movie, produced by independent studio BOP Animation, has grown out from YouTube. Except that Old Man was famous long before an influencer was a thing. A couple of years ago, two friends started making sketchy videos featuring the grumpy old man character, simply known as the Old Man. Old Man lives in the countryside, swears a lot and is sceptical about almost everything. Not surprisingly, it quickly became an internet sensation. In the full-length film, the grandkids come to visit Old Man during their summer holiday. Old Man wants to show them the beauty of country living. Of course, that mission fails. Instead, the grandkids manage to set loose his beloved cow. On the journey to find the cow, the Old Man finds himself plunged into the world of hipster parties and other challenging situations. This dark animated comedy is set for release this September.

Another full-length animation in production is Raggie. This children’s film, produced by A Film Estonia, is based on a popular book. The story follows the story of a little girl. When her brother goes to school, he makes her a rag doll so that she wouldn’t feel lonely. Out of nowhere, the doll comes to life! SUMMER AND FESTIVAL WAVE

Summer brings positive news to the Estonian short animation front as several films will premiere at Animafest Zagreb and Annecy International Film Festival. One of the films to premiere at Annecy’s main competition is Chintis Lundgren’s Toomas Beneath the Valley of the Wild Wolves. Lundgren’s films have previously travelled to festivals such as Sundance, Zagreb and Annecy. Her newest, an Estonian-Croatian-French co-production, follows the life of Toomas – a hot young wolf, who loses his job and has to start working as a gigolo. Lundgren has covered similar ironic


Orpheus

Teofrastus

topics in her previous films. Manivald introduced us to the 33-year old fox Manivald, who is still living with her mother. Life with Herman H. Rott followed the relationship between a rebel rat H. Rott and a bourgeois cat. Opposites attract, right? With Toomas Beneath the Valley of the Wild Wolves, Lundgren continues to amuse us with her signature technique. Other films to screen at the short films competition programme in Annecy are Life24 and A Demonstration of Brilliance in Four Acts. Life24, directed by Kristjan Holm, tells the bizarre story of a lifelong bachelor. We’ll see romance, some beach fun and of course, football. Before Annecy, the film travelled to GoEast and Mediawave. Estonian-Croatian co-production A Demonstration of Brilliance in Four Acts, directed by Morten Tshinakov and Lucija Mrzljak follows life in a bizarre town, where everyone is waiting for someone special… The short film has already been to several festivals including Etiuda&Anima where it won the Grand Prix. Anu-Laura Tuttelberg’s Winter in the Rainforest will premiere at Animafest Zagreb. Winter in the Rainforest is also part of the Perspectives Short Film Competition at Annecy. This Estonian-French-Mexican co-production was filmed in Mexico and in the Amazon Jungle. Tropical, wild nature and fragile ceramic creatures create a contrasting atmosphere which we have also seen in Tuttelberg’s previous stop-motion film, On the Other Side of the Woods. Orpheus, directed by Priit Tender will premiere at Annecy, where it’s part

Toomas Beneath the Valley of the Wild Wolves

Teofrastus was awarded as the Best Animated Film at the Estonian Film and Television Awards. of the WTF2019 program. Vibrant drawn animation carries the viewers through the underworld and paradise. The music, composed by the Estonian jazz musician Kadri Voorand, plays a big role. All in all, the film can be described as a psychedelic road trip, because Orpheus, who like all the creatures of the world – is simply looking for love and understanding. In addition to the films mentioned above, three student films made it to Annecy. These are Sounds Good by Sander Joon, Sweet Sweat by Jung Hyun Kim

and Food Chain by Mari Kivi and Liis Kokk. Sounds Good takes us on a surreal journey of the boom operator, who is trying to record the sound of mushrooms. Sweet Sweat tells a very private childhood story. Food Chain is a gripping short about… food. So, all in all, Estonia is represented at Annecy with eight short films. Another remarkable new Estonian animation is the claymation Teofrastus, directed by Sergei Kibus. The film follows a stray cat on his search for a loving home. Heart-warming and visually unique, this stop-motion animation was recently awarded as the Best Animated Film at the Estonian Film and Television Awards, where it also won the award for best production design. Teofrastus was also awarded by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia as the Best Animation Film. The film had its international premiere at goEast in Wiesbaden in April and it will continue travelling the world throughout 2019. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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TALENT NEWS

RAGGIE is produced by A Film (Estonia) and A. Film Production (Denmark). The film’s distributors are Vaata Filmi (Estonia), Copenhagen Bombay Distribution (Denmark) and LevelK (rest of the world).

Raggie

in Production

The new Estonian-Danish animation film Raggie star­ ted production in autumn 2018. This is a 70 minute feature film for children. By Maria Ulfsak

T

he production period will last until November 2019 and the premiere is planned for January 2020. The film’s production is split up between two animation studios: A Film in Estonia and A. Film Productions in Denmark, with the Danes focusing primarily on the pre-production and the Estonians responsible for the animation, music and post-production. The directors of Raggie are Meelis Arulepp and Karsten Kiilerich, and the film’s producers are Kristel Tõldsepp and Anders Mastrup. The film is based on the Estonian

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ESTONIAN FILM

children’s book Sipsik by Eno Raud. The book has been translated into several languages, including English, German (Reggi) and Russian (Сипсик). 1.8 million books have been published throughout Europe, including one million in Russian, 60,000 in German and 80,000 in English. According to the film’s producer, Kristel Tõldsepp, the co-production of Raggie between Estonia and Denmark has been very smooth. “It has been extremely easy to co-produce this film. First of all because the cooperation between our two studios goes back 20 years, but also because we have a similar understanding of animation and film language. In Estonia, we all grew up immersed in the world of Raggie so we urgently needed a fresh and impartial view of the script, so we also involved Karsten Kiilerich from Denmark in the scriptwriting stage and script editors Moe Honan and Ann Brehony from Ireland. The fact that Raggie speaks to people outside of Estonia and that we are

producing a film for a wider audience than just Estonia was proven by the moment our project was approved and received support from the Danish Film Institute,” Tõldsepp said. Raggie is a story about a very special and charming living doll that causes a bit of jealousy between brother Mark and sister Ruby, but eventually brings them closer and makes the older brother accept the so called “childishness” of his younger sister. According to one of the film’s directors, Karsten Kiilerich, it is essentially a classic and international story about a young girl named Ruby growing up. “The main character is a young girl who is caught between her ambition of becoming more mature and the fact that she is still pretty naïve. Because of her vivid imagination, she has a hard time separating fantasy from reality. Not that it matters as such. It does, however, create tension between her and her brother, and raises the question: Will she be ready for school when the time comes? And another important point is that this movie is animated, which is in fact a border-crossing technique in film-story telling. It is, in other words, an international language,” Kiilerich told Estonian Film. He says that the film has a simple message: When the love between friends and siblings is strong enough, it will always be more powerful than the misunderstandings and quarrels that occur in everyday life. “And another message is that if you open your mind and are willing to accept another way of looking at things, you will experience a whole new world,” Kiilerich added. EF


STATISTICS

Truth and Justice

Lotte and the Lost Dragons

Estonian Films

Show Strength in Numbers The centenary of the Republic of Estonia has left its mark on national filmmaking as the audience numbers of domestic film productions are at an all-time high since the restoration of independence.

Class Reunion 3: Godfathers

ESTONIAN FILMS TOP 5 IN 2019 English title

Admissions

By Mirjam Mikk

1 Truth and Justice

257 200

2018,

2 Class Reunion 3: Godfathers

122 137

3 Lotte and the Lost Dragons

75 898

4 Ott Tänak: The Movie

56 475

5 Men

30 579

the year of celebrations, was a box office recordbreaker with Estonian films drawing in an impressive 650,000 cinemagoers. More than half of this result was thanks to the Estonian Republic 100 film programme. With five features, a feature animation and two documentaries in cinemas, the diverse mixture dedicated to Estonia’s 100th anniversary offered a variety of genres - something for everyone. The opening film of the Estonian Republic 100 programme, the period drama The Little Comrade, reached an audience of 117,000 in 2018 and has proven to be a success both at home and festivals abroad. Estonia’s first Christmas family feature Phantom Owl Forest hit the 105,000 margin already in its third opening week. By now, it has gathered an audience of 148,273, winning over the hearts of children and adults alike. Another treat dedicated to the youngest of audience members, the third and last film of the animated franchise, Lotte and the Lost Dragons, attracted 76,000 in local cinemas and received a heartwarming welcome when premiering internationally at the Berlinale Generation Kplus Competition. Offering a glimpse into the striking beauty of Estonia’s nature and the innerworkings of our wildlife, The Wind Sculpted Land, became one of our most successful documentaries, collecting more than

43,000 cinema visits and continuing to grab attention on television. Proving that through time our connection with nature has remained evergreen. The year had a lot more to offer with new local films premiering almost monthly. Laughter proved once again to be the best medicine with a number of comedies being huge crowd pleasers. The Class Reunion trilogy, a consistent favourite, with Class Reunion 2: A Wedding and a Funeral taking the title of most watched film of 2018 with 146,501 viewers and the newest addition Class Reunion 3: God-fathers that premiered in the beginning of 2019, riding a similar wave with a result of 122,000. 2019 has started remarkably well for Estonian film as the adaptation of national epic novel Truth & Justice brought Estonian film to new heights, reaching the 250,000 admission margin and setting a new record for being the most watched film in Estonia. Also a documentary about a young and talented Estonian WRC rally driver became an instant box office hit. Ott Tänak. The movie had more than 47,000 admissions in the opening week. 2019 is already catching up with last year, with Estonian films having gained more than 600,000 in audience numbers by the beginning of May. Through laughter and tears, mainstream and arthouse, Estonian filmmak-

ESTONIAN FILMS TOP 10 IN 2002-2019 English title

Admissions

1 Truth and Justice (2019)

257 200

2 Class Reunion 1 (2016)

189 144

3 Names in Marble (2002)

168 234

4 Phantom Owl Forest (2018)

148 273

5 Class Reunion 2 (2018)

146 501

6 Class Reunion 3 (2019)

122 137

7 The Little Comrade (2018)

116 744

8 1944 (2015)

115 692

9 The Secret Society of Souptown (2015)

90 746

10 Dissidents (2015)

85 406

ers have shown their skills, offering the audience a fresh perspective on homemade films and creating enduring stories to look back on. EF ESTONIAN FILM

33


FUNDS

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

ESTONIAN FILM INSTITUTE Programmes for film production MAJORITY CO-PRODUCTION • Financing for an Estonian co-producer the maximum subsidy is € 700,000. • Subsidy of up to 70% of the Estonian part of the budget. • 50% of the subsidy must be spent in Estonia. • Two application deadlines: April 30, 2019 and December 3, 2019. MINORITY CO-PRODUCTION • For producers from all over the world. Participation of an Estonian co-producer is necessary. Bilateral treaty not necessary. • Financing for an Estonian co-producer the maximum subsidy is € 200,000. • Subsidy of up to 70% of the Estonian part of the budget. • 100% of the subsidy must be spent in Estonia. • Two application deadlines: January 8, 2019 and September 24, 2019.

FILM ESTONIA CASH REBATE Film Estonia cash-rebate is a production incentive supporting the incoming production of feature films, feature documentaries, animation films, animation series, high-end TV-drama and the post-produc-

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ESTONIAN FILM

tion of all previously mentioned works. An application can be made for international production service or co-production to receive a cash rebate up to 30% on eligible production costs. Support intensity - 20%-30% of eligible costs Deadlines - open call Applicant - company registered in Estonia Recipient - foreign company Decision – in 30 days Auditing and payment – in 40 days

Shooting of Firebird

The scheme is open for: • feature films with a budget of at least € 1 million; minimum local spend € 200,000 • feature documentary with a budget of at least € 200,000; minimum local spend € 70,000 • animation with a budget of at least € 250,000; minimum local spend € 70,000 • animation series with a budget of at least € 500,000; minimum local spend € 70,000 • high-end TV-drama with a budget of at least € 200,000 per single episode; minimum local spend € 70,000 • post-production; minimum local spend € 30,000 Previously supported films include: Eternal Road (Finland), Checkered Ninja (Denmark), Maria’s Paradise (Finland), Firebird (UK) CONTACT: Nele Paves, Film Commissioner nele@filmi.ee www.filmestonia.eu


Eternal Road

Shooting of The Secret Society of Souptown

Maria’s Paradise

REGIONAL FILM FUNDS TALLINN

TARTU FILM FUND The Tartu Film Fund is budgeted at € 150,000 euros annually. • Local film production companies providing production services for international film projects are eligible to apply for funding. • Under the scheme, the rebate for a single project is 10-20% of eligible expenditure incurred in the Tartu area. • The eligibility for funding of film projects will be assessed by a committee comprising an experienced film producer and representatives of Tartu City Government, the Tartu Centre for Creative Industries and the Estonian Film Institute. Financing is available for the shooting and post-production of international: • feature films; • documentaries; • short films; • animated films; and • high-quality TV series with more than four episodes. Previously supported films include: The Secret Society of Souptown (Estonia), When You Least Expect It (Estonia) CONTACT: Kristiina Reidolv info@tartufilmfund.ee tartufilmfund.ee

IDAVIRUMAA

TARTU

• Support intensity is up to 40% of local costs. • The applications are accepted from 10.02 - 31.10. For the application you need a partner from Estonia. Previously supported films include: Eternal Road (Finland), Mihkel (Iceland), Mother (Estonia) CONTACT: Piia Tamm piia.tamm@ivek.ee www.vff.ee

THE CULTURAL ENDOWMENT OF ESTONIA Public agency that supports culture, including audiovisual art, and sport.

VIRU FILM FUND The Viru Film Fund is budgeted at € 200,000 annually.

MAJORITY CO-PRODUCTION Financing for an Estonian co-producer the maximum subsidy is € 120,000.

• Viru Film Fund is based in the Eastern region of Estonia (Ida-Virumaa), known for its large-scale industrial and mining infrastructure but also swathes of untouched natural habitats. • Viru Film Fund co-funds feature films, documentaries, TV-series and music videos filmed in Ida-Virumaa county.

MINORITY CO- PRODUCTION • Participation of Estonian co-producer is necessary. • Financing for an Estonian co-producer the maximum subsidy is € 60,000. • There are four application deadlines: February 20, May 20, August 20 and November 20.

QUICK FACTS Travel fast • With an area of just 45,227 km2 all corners of the country are only a couple of hours away There’s space • Estonia is one of Europe’s least crowded countries It’s green • 52 per cent of the country is forest, making it one of Europe’s greenest countries Lots of islands • Estonia has 2,222 islands and islets Lots of water • Estonia is surrounded by nearly 3,800 km of coastline • There are 1500 easy-to-access lakes Endless summer light • Due to its northern location, Estonia experiences the summertime “White Nights” phenomena, when the sun sets late and the night is dusk at most Period-friendly architecture • Medieval old towns, 1000 castles and manors dating back as far as the 13th century • Architecture from Stalinist Classicism and Soviet Modernism ESTONIAN FILM

35


REVIEW

Horror Animation for Young and Old The adventurous animation film for the whole family, Captain Morten and the Spider Queen, is a horror film to adults. There are scenes of cannibalism, violence against children, torture, hints at the Estonian occupation and other sinister imagery. But, to children, it’s a fun film full of fantasy and a fast-paced, memorable adventure.

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen By Ragnar Ra Novod (Kinoveeb.ee) First published in Eesti Päevaleht 36

ESTONIAN FILM

D

irectors Kaspar Jancis, Riho Unt and Henry Nicholson have approached the story of a little boy the way that Henry Selick and the Laika Animation Studio did in the 2009 film Coraline, based on the 2002 novel by Neil Gaiman. There are also echoes of Hiromasa Yonebayashi and the studio Ghibli 2010 animation film Arriety based on the classical fantasy novel The Borrowers from 1952. Captain

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

Morten and the Spider Queen is also based on a book, in this case it is a story penned by the director Jancis himself, called An Adventure on a Salamander. As in the aforementioned films, the main protagonist ends up in a strange environment full of wondrous characters and large adventures, which are clear allegories for the problems in his own life and which Morten relives and solves through his fantasy world.


tually not be so big after all, as it all takes place on the floor of Morten’s flooded home. But, to the characters who become tiny, this regular flood becomes a large, powerful sea where Morten can finally be who he’s wanted to be, following in the footsteps of his father, a sea captain. But that can only happen after he has fought his evil stepmother, the cunning Stinger but also the doubts and hesitation that have been holding him back. The most memorable scenes in the film include when a sailor is

Whereas Arriety was very sweet and pretty, Coraline was dark and quite scary, a trademark of Neil Gaiman’s other work. It wasn’t really a film for children. Captain Morten moves along the blurred line between a traditional children’s film contrasted with themes that stare back from the other side dealing with topics that adults might find disturbing, one of the main strengths of the film. The animation is also amazing, which is not surprising, as Estonian animation has always been unique and forged its own path against the trends in the world of animation. The world, environments and characters created for the film look magnificent. If we ignore the sometimes wooden Estonian dubbing, then the film, as a whole, is extremely well made. The film includes all of the essential elements of a fairy tale or children’s fantasy film: an evil stepmother, pirates, stupid henchmen and even talking insects. When Morten’s seaside world suddenly becomes very tiny (like in the novel The Borrowers) then the charac-

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen takes a little lonely boy called Morten to an adventure full of dangers.

ters surrounding him transform into bugs. His stepmother becomes a spider because she is mean and cruel. Stingy Mr. Stin­ ger becomes a scorpion, obviously, considering his name and the fact that scorpions sting you. There are many other such transitions from

Estonian animation has always been unique and forged its own path. real life to fantasy and they work because they are familiar and have been tried and tested before. They are brought to life by the animation technique and the superb handicraft that it took to give birth to this fantasy world that might ac-

put through a meat mincing machine and they make jam balls out of him. I watched this painful death take place and laughed out loud, but also realized the horror of it. Children might not see it that way, but once they are slightly older, they’ll start to realize how gruesome it all is. We also see the stepmother-turned-spider torturing her daughter, calling her fat and refusing her food. Yes, the cocooned daughter turnes into a butterfly and the mother is a spider in the story, but there is still something very disconcerting about those images. There are many more scenes like that in the film and I completely understand the motivation behind them. This film is made for children but also for the adults accompanying them to the cinema, and that’s one place where I think the film might surprise the audience in every sense of the word. EF ESTONIAN FILM

37


REVIEW

Experiments With Drifting Bare fields, a dead horse on the beach, the manor lord’s mute son, medieval rituals, a girl back from hell who speaks of her visions to the villagers as candles burn on her body. And an aesthetic of decay and desolation in a post-war country where man’s moral and ethical compasses have been swayed.

A

ll constructed through a whirlwind of images and meaning in the dialogue, narrative and visual language. The peasant noir, or Ugric angst, of The Riddle of Jaan Niemand requires distance because it resists our cosmopolitan tempo and spatial fragmentation. The film also requires time and consideration as the film needs more than one viewing to be fully understood. Kaur Kokk’s film is an ambitious, aesthetic statement

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ESTONIAN FILM

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

where the argumentation suggests slow filmmaking as a form of resistance. Its core seems to revolve around a drifting signifier and how it might materialize on screen. The criticism of Kaur Kokk’s The Riddle of Jaan Niemand in Estonia has been carried by the words “yet another”. The film is reproached for being yet another November (by Rainer Sarnet, 2017) or The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow (Sulev Keedus, 2017) or Roukli or The Temptation

The Riddle of Jaan Niemand By Stefan Peetri First published in Sirp


of St. Tony (Veiko Õunpuu, 2015 and 2009 respectively). The main problem, according to reviewers, is a lack of plot and excessive emphasis on artistry. I agree that the narrative, or story, had a lot of potential and may have been developed further, but I cannot agree with the claim that the viewer was stifled by so-called overly overt imagery. The use of the words “yet another” is also problematic. Of course, you could draw parallels between this film and the spooky anguish of the peasants in November or the motif of the mystical girl in The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow or the surreal and hollow atmosphere of Roukli and The Temptation of St. Tony, but also with the horse motif and long takes in Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse.

The leading actors of The Riddle of Jaan Niemand: Meelis Rämmeld (on the left), Peeter Volkonski and Andres Lepik.

“Yet another” shouldn’t be used as a reproach because it is more important “how”, not “whether” the film plays with intertextuality. The Riddle of Jaan Niemand does not disappoint in its approach to intertextuality – even if it moves down a traveled path, the viewer still has something new to discover. Kokk’s film, is therefore very contemporary: it moves between genres while tying together effects taken from different genres (historical or psychological drama, horror, fantasy, etc.) that fit Kokk’s understanding of aesthetics but never take you all the way to the end of any path. The viewer is constantly kept at a crossroads (which genre to follow?) and under a deluge of imagery. The Riddle of Jaan Niemand is like a vast field of interpretation, a bomb of imaginary information that keeps ticking but never explodes. This is where I arrive at the main value of the film, which is its ambiguity, its constant state of ticking. The director of The Riddle of Jaan Niemand couldn’t decide whether to move towards a still-life or a storm and the film thus remains on the brink between pictorial passivity and cinematographic affect. The viewer doesn’t exactly understand if we’re moving towards photo or film and where the line between the two lies. Or is it

even important to determine where it lies? Maybe it’s better to interpret The Riddle of Jaan Niemand as a photo-film, a film told in photographs? The visual language often uses static and long takes similar to photography and presents picturesque environments like landscapes of bare trees or the declining manor complex. At times, the film speaks in the language of Northern Renaissance painting, as evidenced by the use of ambiguous imagery. I’m reminded of Hans Holbein’s painting “The Ambassadors” and trompe l’oeil, or the optical illusion of a memento mori, the presence of death. The presence of death, the imminent end of the world, is expressed in The Riddle of Jaan Niemand by the general state of anxiety and by the reborn girl’s visions of the impending great flood. The film is set in the time after the Great Northern War, when the land of the peasants became a battlefield for an empire and a kingdom, but the viewer’s attention is drawn to the possibility that there might be something much more mysterious and ghastly waiting just outside the frame. Because of the ambiguity of images in Kokk’s The Riddle of Jaan Niemand, the viewer becomes anxious, bothered by the presence (of a nameless danger) lurking outside the frame, by the things that reESTONIAN FILM

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REVIEW

The Riddle of Jaan Niemand is layered, one or another of its choices leaves the viewer guessing. main in the camera’s shadows. The danger outside the frame is embodied by the baron’s mute son whose gaze is always frozen in an indescribable direction for some reason, as if he might know something that the plot hasn’t revealed. The Riddle of Jaan Niemand is layered, one or another of its choices leaves the viewer guessing. To explain that idea, I’ll use the concept of pharmakon, as described by Jacques Derrida. In Greek, pharmakon is a word with two meanings, designating both medicine and poison. Derrida goes even further, claiming that writing is based on ignorance, or ambiguity. No one knows if the main character is a doctor or a murderer. His body carries a scar but he doesn’t know its origin. Jaan finds out that the manor was attacked (before the film starts) by five horsemen who killed the baroness and her servant. In self-defense,

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the baroness wounded one of them with a letter opener. The wounded horsemen was left behind by the group, so the viewer doesn’t know if the main character is a healer or a murderer, which makes this a moment of pharmacological hesitation. The scar on Jaan’s body unravels all the markers that the viewer is given and connects to the second basic concept of Derridean deconstruction, trace. In French, this word has many meanings, including “path”, “mark”, or “track”. The trace is a drifting or floating marker, in this case, Jaan, who is there to open the film up to the dark peripheries, to the presence that we intuit exists outside of the frame. A certain anxiety intrudes into the film, one that can be interpreted as an expression of our current state of anxiety (fake news, post-truth, the growing use of antidepressants and anxiety-reducing pharmacology, labour rights and the rise of a pre­

The viewer’s attention is drawn to the possibility that there might be something much more mysterious and ghastly waiting just outside the frame.

carious labour market – in other words, it depends on the viewer) expressed through historical motifs. The film is like a pharmakon – it is both one thing and another, especially if we think about its similarities to the aforementioned films. It seems that the main thing that tunes the viewer into the wavelength of anxiety that accompanies the film is when that strange darkness, the other outside of the frame breaches the narrative presence inside the frame. This creates confusion and explains the criticism that has befallen the film. The extra-frame presence is the viewer’s own anxiety, loaded onto the screen. Aesthetically delivered as the slow cinema of Béla Tarr, yet philosophically reminding us Lars von Trier, the ending of the film does not lead the story of Jaan to some kind of teleological redemption. Jaan in a sense isn’t forgiven, the ending of the film does not reconcile his past or any part of his identity. The subjectivity in question is as indistinct and ambivalent as the fog which leads the spectator of the film in the final seconds of the film to accompany Jaan to another unknown path. Like the before mentioned Holbein’s painting „The Ambassadors”, the film leaves a riddle at the end for the spectator. There is this strong Nietzschean allegory of the eternal return haunting the gesamtkunstwerk of The Riddle of Jaan Niemand. The riddle is in one of the last scenes of the film and it’s a question of perspective like in the Holbein’s painting. It’s the memento mori. EF


REVIEW

The

Calligraphic Wind Joosep Matjus’s The Wind Sculpted Land is a very visual film. The wind as a sculptor is an unexpected metaphor because sculpting means modeling by hitting and the wind seems to act differently – it flows and molds.

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he wind has a very prominent role in the film, with whole episodes devoted to its various manifestations, from ripples in the air to rough storms to the epically boiling clouds. And the patterns formed by repeatedly shifting icebergs show the wind doing exactly what was promised – sculpting. But the film itself shows no signs of being sculpted. It is like calligraphy that lends itself to archetypal generalization, and a very fitting way to celebrate Estonia’s one hundredth anniversary for decades to come. Joosep Matjus, Atte Henriksson and Janne Henriksson were behind the camera, Atte Henriksson filmed the drone shots, Kaido Haagen filmed the underwater scenes, Veljo Runnel recorded the nature sounds and Johannes Broux

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

and Jonna Østbye assisted the cameramen. I name them all because it is important to do so. Filming nature has become an extremely technical field akin to Formula 1 racing, except that in the latter a large team polishes one technical performance to minutiae, but in the former, you have to invent, construct and rebuild different types of equipment, tools and moving shelters. Mostly this means combining very expensive, hi-tech equipment with materials found at the village store. And you have to use it all like a feather wor violin. The results are masterful: the film is monumental and minute at the same time and extremely visually sensitive. To be honest, I don’t exactly understand how they were able to control such an extensive technical colossus and use it to dive in and perceive nature at such an intimate level but also to make it all intelligible to the viewer.

FILM ON VALMINUD EESTI VABARIIGI 100. SÜNNIPÄEVAKS

Joosep Matjuse loodusfilm

TUULTE TAHUTUD MAA Kinodes alates 28. septembrist 2018

Produtsendid RIHO VÄSTRIK, KATRI RANNASTU Operaatorid JOOSEP MATJUS, ATTE HENRIKSSON, JAN HENRIKSSON Muusika EETER Loodushelid VELJO RUNNEL Helikujundus HORRET KUUS Montaaž KATRI RANNASTU Tootja WILDKINO OÜ Kaastootja MARCO POLO FILM AG

The Wind Sculpted Land By Peeter Laurits First published in Sirp Powerful, abstract arabesques and panoramic drifts alternate with macro shots and incredible closeups; fast and slow-paced shots add ESTONIAN FILM

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REVIEW ture photos, where one species of bird is depicted alone, separated from the background by sharp focus or framed in the center or by the golden ratio. That is a human viewpoint. But nature should be looked at in another way, because things are different in nature. A park is not the forest. A park is a “selected community”. In nature,

Drone shots that have become mundane in today’s nature films feel organic and are often allowed to drift across the sky – another manifestation of the wind in the film. They are not ashamed of bad weather, and the mugginess, blizzards and showers create a specific milieu reminiscent of the rainfall we’ve seen in Kurosawa’s films. I’d personally like to award the colourist – the colors are delectable and support each shot. Only some of the chromatic aberration of the lens might have been filtered out. Nature films usually focus on one animal or plant and show its story. This is largely for technical reasons because it is extremely hard to capture different types of animals in one shot. Joosep Matjus and editor Katri Rannastu show us that editing can bring a moose, a mink, a slippery fish and another mink into the same,

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shared social context. But technical complexity is not the only reason films focus on one species. The main reason is that the human species’ sense of perception is programmed to break wholes into pieces and see them as species, specimens, things, nominals to make it possible to put them into sentences and thoughts. This is a relationship of differentiating and enumerating, one that allows human society to function very effectively but seems stunted in its attempt to describe the multitude of layers in nature. That’s why humans surround themselves with things that are easily delineated and try to draw a line between themselves and nature. When they buy a house in the countryside, they level the plot of land, plant trees in an orderly pattern, and surround their land with a fence. The same happens in na-

Wind Sculpted Land was made as a part of Estonia 100 film programme.

all forms of life (and there are a lot of them) exist together, they are interwoven and connected through very diverse means of communication. Our one-dimensional internet pales in comparison to the semiotic, joined choirs of the forest. To understand and perceive the forest, you have to multiply your viewpoints and nudge them beyond your own differentiating self, like this film skillfully does. It always helps when a nature photo or film tries out new perspectives and steps outside of its usual contours. I absolutely adore how The Wind Sculpted Land has put a lot of effort into seeing the relationships between different species. It turns out that, with skill and luck, it is possible to capture different species in one shot and to give sense to their relationship. A meeting of two young roe deer and three piglets is even filmed with two cameras at once. The relationships between different forms of life is one of the general themes in the film where the forest and sea are shown as social environments. Attention is also given to the layers usually beyond a human’s viewpoint – a moose’s eyelashes, the microworld of tiny spiders and underwater realms. When people still lived in the forest or side-by-side with the forest, nature and its relational networks were


Wind Sculpted Land became an instant box office success in Estonia.

no surprise to anyone. But our current understanding of how nature works is faded and limited. We primarily pay attention to victorious and submissive relationships. The 19th century focused on the struggle for existence as the driving force behind evolution in Darwin’s theories. Competition, vulturism, parasitism, and voracity seemed like natural inevitabilities in describing early capitalistic human relationships. The 20th century moved continued in the same way. People were slow to notice other types of relationships in nature. Only today are we slowly starting to realize that cooperation, symbiosis and adapting to reciprocal interests determine natural selection. Even our cells and tissues are formed by contact between finer organelles. In the film, we see whooper swans and common cranes working together, roe deer bucks arguing with moose, whitetailed eagles, ravens and crows sharing their catch or roe deer

Joosep Matjus's epic nature film makes a deep bow to Estonian nature, which is the true busi­ ness card of Estonia.

Beauty is the gentle friction between harmony and disharmony, it is a vibration, one of the biggest pleasures, a certain state of floating...

kids playing with cranes. My biggest issue with the film was the voiceover text. The Estonian version was read with the lush and suggestive bass of actor Hannes Kaljujärv and was a nice nod to tradition, but, to me, it felt too direct for this film. And there was a bit too much text. Of course, we are all used to Sir David Attenborough or Neil deGrasse Tyson’s instructive tones, and such familiarity here is surely a selling point for the film. An authoritative tone might also be stylistically fitting for an anniversary film. But in addition to everything else, The Wind Sculpted Land is a very tender and gentle film that offers a joyful proximity to nature where you don’t need so much explanation. I would have liked there to have been more space left for the viewer. Fortunately, the music by the band Eeter gave me that mental space, while also surprising or intervening to create meaning at just the right moments. The over-

all sound design was very organic and, just like in the forest, sometimes you hear things before you see them and feel the plurality of forest life. At times, the music melts into the sounds of nature so organically that it is hard to distinguish one from the other. But, where needed, it also adds comedy or drama or a surreal element and, most importantly, constantly supports the state of hovering outside yourself, the calligraphic gesture towards that which is outside human experience and the biggest strength and feat of this film. And all of this, together, is very beautiful. I’m not afraid of this powerful word that has become taboo recently, even though I don’t know how to define it. I don’t think you can define Beauty because its nature is constantly changing and flowing. Beauty is the gentle friction between harmony and disharmony, it is a vibration, one of the biggest pleasures, a certain state of floating, a phantom platform where you can go to reassess, recombine or discard known categories. Because the condition of beauty is the willingness to renounce one’s self, the essence of beauty is in the sphere beyond words which allows you to identify the existence of the ineffable. EF ESTONIAN FILM

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NEW FILM

Scandinavian Silence

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

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

demy of Music and Theatre (Higher Drama School) to acquire a Master’s degree in Stage Directing. Helde has also refined himself in screenwriting, dramaturgy and directing actors via completing various workshops in Berlin, Ankara, Los Angeles and London. His first feature length period drama In the Crosswind (2014) received a wide resonance in international media after premiering in Toronto IFF and its theatrical release in France (ARP Selection). To this day Martti Helde’s In the Crosswind has been screened in film festivals across the globe and won numerous awards.

FILM INFO Original title: Skandinaavia vaikus Genre: drama Language: Estonian Director: Martti Helde Screenwriters: Nathaniel Price, Martti Helde Cinematographers: Erik Põllumaa E.S.C., Sten-Johan Lill E.S.C. Production Designer: Anneli Arusaar Editor: Jaak Ollino Jr. Composer: Mick Pedaja Sound: Matis Rei Main cast: Rea Lest, Reimo Sagor Producer: Elina Litvinova Co-producers: Laurent Petin, Michele Halbserstadt, Frederic de Goldschmidt Produced by: Three Brothers (Estonia), ARP Selection (France), Media International (Belgium) Domestic premiere: March 28, 2019 75 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / Dolby Digital CONTACT Three Brothers Elina Litvinova Phone: +372 5691 3377 E-mail: elina@helde.ee

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NEW FILM

Truth and Justice

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stonia, 1870. A young and energetic man Andres together with his wife Krõõt arrives to his new farm bought on a loan to establish their new life. Robber’s Rise must become a place, that’ll take care of the family. The household needs a lot of work and consistency – battle with nature, fate and his spiteful neighbour Pearu begins. When life deals the man more sufferings than long-awaited successes, he searches desperately for truth and justice – from court, tavern and the Bible, sacrificing his family, friends and eventually himself in the process. Dream of prosperous and nurturing Robber’s Rise descends deeper and deeper under the shadow of reality. DIRECTOR TANEL TOOM is an Oscar-nominated director with more than a decade of directing experience. A graduate in Fiction Direction of the National Film and Television School, he has directed 10 short films and around

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Tanel Toom

50 commercials. His shorts have been to over 35 international festivals and won 17 awards, including winning Best Foreign Film at the 37th Student Academy Awards for The Confession. He was also nominated for an Oscar in the Best Live Action Short category at the 83rd Academy Awards.

FILM INFO Original title: Tõde ja õigus Genre: drama Language: Estonian Director: Tanel Toom Screenwriter: Tanel Toom Cinematographer: Rein Kotov E.S.C. Production Designer: Jaagup Roomet Editor: Tambet Tasuja Composer: Mihkel Zilmer Sound: Matis Rei Main cast: Priit Loog, Priit Võigemast, Maiken Schmidt, Simeoni Sundja, Ester Kuntu Producer: Ivo Felt Co-producers: Armin Karu, Madis Tüür Produced by: Allfilm Domestic premiere: February 20, 2019 165 min / DCP / 2.39:1 /5.1 CONTACT Allfilm Ivo Felt Phone: +372 672 9070 E-mail: allfilm@allfilm.ee www.allfilm.ee


Phantom Owl Forest

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hildren’s adventure film Phantom Owl Forest follows a 10-year-old Eia, whose Christmas holiday is taking an unexpected turn, after being brought to a mysterious farm in rural South Estonia. She follows her heart to rescue an old primeval forest, helps two lovers to find each other, and is destined to unwrap her family’s well-kept secret. DIRECTOR ANU AUN has graduated with BA from TV Directing and completed postgraduate studies in Film Directing in the Baltic Film and Media School. Anu has produced and directed

two feature films, several short films and documentaries. Anu’s latest feature Phantom Owl Forest reached over 143 000 viewers in domestic cinemas. Her short film Shift (2010) was selected to more than 70 international film festivals and won 17 prizes from all over the world. Anu’s debut feature The Polar Boy (2016) was developed in Torino Film Lab and Nipkow Program. The film screened in Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival’s official competition, Cairo International Film Festival, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and many others. Anu is currently in production with the creative documentary Walker on Water.

FILM INFO Original title: Eia jõulud Tondikakul Genre: family, adventure Language: Estonian Director: Anu Aun Screenwriter: Anu Aun Cinematographers: Heiko Sikka E.S.C., Ants Tammik Production Designer: Matis Mäesalu Editor: Margo Siimon Composer: Sten Sheripov Sound: Horret Kuus Main cast: Paula Rits, Siim Oskar Ots, Märt Pius, Priit Pius, Priit Võigemast, Mirtel Pohla, Liis Lemsalu, Tambet Tuisk, Juhan Ulfsak, Meelis Rämmeld, Anne Reemann, Tõnu Oja Producers: Maie Rosmann-Lill, Maario Masing Produced by: Luxfilm, Kinosaurus Film Domestic premiere: December 2019 International premiere: Zlín FF, June 2019 90 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Kinosaurus Film Maie Rosmann-Lill Phone: +372 5615 6535 E-mail: maie@kinosaurus.ee www.eiafilm.ee SALES Attraction Distribution Phone: +1 51 4360 0252 E-mail: info@attractiondistribution.ca www.attractiondistribution.ca ESTONIAN FILM

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Photos by Gabriela Liivamägi

NEW FILM

The Riddle of Jaan Niemand

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omewhere in Estonia at the beginning of the 18th century. After ten years of war, plague and famine, the land is swept clean of people. An anxious silence hangs over the land. On one particularly starry night, two peasants find a stranger on the seashore. He’s disheveled and comatose. They take him to the local manor lord and slowly bring him back to consciousness. When he opens his eyes, he realizes that he can’t remember who he is or how he got there. He’s just as much a stranger to himself as to the people around him. By force of circumstance, he must stay at the manor and live as one of them. His preliminary state of lethargy slowly gives way to recovery. He must come to terms with the question: Who am I? He

finds himself in a bizarre world, one full of meager uncertainty and growing disorder. There are sparse hints at his past… but what do you do when there is more than one correct answer to a question? What do you do when the answers aren’t good enough? Can we choose who we are? He embarks upon a journey of self-discovery with the most unlikely of landscapes as the backdrop. DIRECTOR KAUR KOKK graduated from the Baltic Film and Media School and has been successful with his short films both in Estonia and abroad. His short Olga (2013) received the Jury Special Mention at the 2014 Clermont-Ferrand IFF. The Riddle of Jaan Niemand is his debut feature.

FILM INFO Original title: Põrgu Jaan Genre: mystery Language: Estonian Director: Kaur Kokk Screenwriters: Kaur Kokk, Anti Naulainen Cinematographer: Mart Taniel E.S.C. Production Designer: Matis Mäesalu Editors: Velasco Broca, Marion Koppel Composer: Ülo Krigul Sound: Matis Rei Main cast: Meelis Rämmeld, Andres Lepik, Pääru Oja, Peeter Volkonski, Adele Taska, Egon Nuter Producer: Katrin Kissa Produced by: Homeless Bob Production Domestic premiere: October 5, 2018 International premiere: April 2019, GoEast FF 105 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / Digital SR CONTACT Homeless Bob Production Katrin Kissa Phone: +372 5667 7855 E-mail: kissa@too.ee www.homelessbob.ee

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Bad Hair

FILM INFO

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

Oskar Lehemaa

be a common thread – a pinch of humor is always added. Bad Hair is Oskar’s debut film as a director. He is currently also working as a co- writer/director on a feature animation Old Man Cartoon Movie which will be released in 2019.

Original title: Karv Genre: horror Language: no dialogue Director: Oskar Lehemaa Screenwriter: Oskar Lehemaa Cinematographer: Ivar Taim Production Designer: Triin Valvas Editor: Sander-Kalle Somma Composer: Paul Oja Sound: Markus Andreas Main cast: Sten Karpov Producer: Evelin Penttilä Produced by: Stellar Film Domestic premiere: April 26, 2019 Haapsalu Horror & Fantasy FF 10 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Stellar Film Evelin Penttilä Phone: +372 5552 3500 E-mail: evelin@stellar.ee www.stellar.ee

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NEW FILM

FILM INFO

Lotte and the Lost Dragons

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n the third film of the Lotte film series that children know and love, the spirited girl dog Lotte gets a little sister named Roosi. Karl the raccoon and Viktor the fish are scientists who come to Gadgetville. They are taking part in a big folk song collecting competition. Whoever succeeds in recording the folk song of the world’s oldest animal species, the mythical fire-breathing dragon, wins the competition’s grand prize. Lotte and Roosi decide to help the scientists. Exciting and unexpected adventures await the sisters. DIRECTOR JANNO PÕLDMA has directed 11 films, which have won several awards at Zagreb, Ottawa, Seoul, Brisbane and other international animation festivals. His short animation Concert for a Carrot Pie (2003), co-directed with Heiki Ernits, was nominated for the Cartoon d’Or

in 2004. Since 2006, Janno Põldma and Heiki Ernits have been the force behind the Lotte films. Lotte From Gadgetville (2006) participated at over 35 international film festivals and has been sold to more than 55 countries. Lotte and the Moonstone Secret (2011) had similar successes. Their latest is Lotte and the Lost Dragons (2019). DIRECTOR HEIKI ERNITS has worked as a photographer, art teacher, art director and animation director, designed book covers and layouts, and illustrated numerous publications. He has participated in several exhibitions of caricatures in Estonia and abroad. Heiki Ernits worked as an artist and animation director at Tallinnfilm Studio until 1994. Since then, he has worked at Eesti Joonisfilm. Heiki Ernits has directed and designed 12 animated films.

Original title: Lotte ja kadunud lohed Languages: Estonian, Russian Directors: Janno Põldma, Heiki Ernits Screenwriters: Janno Põldma, Heiki Ernits, Andrus Kivirähk Compositors: Jaagup Metsalu, Albert Kerstna, Mark Duubas, Marje-Ly Liiv, Anu Unnuk Animators: Tarmo Vaarmets, Marje Ale, Ülle Metsur, Maiken Silla, Egert Kesa, Taiga Zile, Aleksandrs Šehovcevs, Jolanta Bigele, Jaagup Metsalu Production Designer: Heiki Ernits Editor: Janno Põldma Composers: Sven Grünberg, Renars Kaupers Sound: Horret Kuus Main cast: Evelin Võigemast, Helmi Tulev, Mait Malmsten, Elina Reinold, Sepo Seeman Technique: drawn animation Producer: Kalev Tamm Co-producer: Vilnis Kalnaellis Produced by: Eesti Joonisfilm (Estonia), Rija Films (Latvia) International premiere: Berlinale 2019, Generation Kplus Competition 78 min / DCP /1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Eesti Joonisfilm Phone: +372 677 4228 E-mail: info@joonisfilm.ee www.joonisfilm.ee SALES Rija Films Vilnis Kalnaellis Phone: +371 6736 2656 E-mail: vilnis.kalnaellis@rijafilms.lv www.rijafilms.lv

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Old Man Cartoon Movie

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

mill workers and other dangers commonly found in the Estonian countryside. DIRECTOR OSKAR LEHEMAA is an Estonian film director. He was born in 1988, in Pärnu. He graduated his audiovisual media BA in the Baltic Film and Media School. For the last ten years he has been working as a director for commercials, film and television. DIRECTOR MIKK MÄGI is an Estonian animator and director. Mikk was born in Tallinn, 1987. He started his animation studies in the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2010. In 2011, he founded the animation stuudio BOP!.

FILM INFO Original title: Vanamehe film Language: Estonian Directors: Mikk Mägi, Oskar Lehemaa Screenwriters: Mikk Mägi, Oskar Lehemaa, Peeter Ritso Cinematographer: Urmas Jõemees Animators: Egert Kesa, Olga Stalev, Triin Sarapik-Kivi, Mattias Mälk, Jaagup Metsalu Production Designer: Triin Paumer Editor: Oskar Lehemaa Composer: Sten-Olle Moldau Sound: Kristjan Kurm Main cast: Mikk Mägi, Jan Uuspõld, Indrek Ojari, Kristjan Lüüs Technique: stop-motion animation Producers: Mikk Mägi, Erik Heinsalu Co-producer: Tanel Tatter Produced by: BOP!, Apollo Film Productions Domestic premiere: September 27, 2019 75 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT BOP! Animation Phone: +372 5378 3028 E-mail: bop@bop.ee www.bop.ee

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NEW FILM

Life24

FILM INFO Original title: Elu24 Language: no dialogue Director: Kristjan Holm Screenwriter: Kristjan Holm Animators: Heta Jäälinoja, Kristjan Holm Production Designer: Kristjan Holm Editor: Kristjan Holm Composer: Kaspar Jancis Sound: Horret Kuus Technique: drawn animation, mixed Producer: Kristjan Holm Produced by: Karabana International premiere: April 2019, GoEast FF Festivals: Mediawave FF, Annecy IAFF

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ifelong bachelor Einar Jernskjegg wins the lottery.

DIRECTOR KRISTJAN HOLM born in 1976, in Tallinn, Estonia. Graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts in 1999 as an Interior Designer. In time, the understanding, that room is limited to four walls, started to trouble him though. An unexpected discovery that a film frame has also four walls, gave him the final impulse to change the subject and dedicate his life to investigating the ties between frames and walls. Filmography: Small House (2008), Escape (2009), Big House (2011), Worst-Case Scenario (2014), Dot (2015), Full House (2016)

Kristjan Holm

9 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Karabana Kristjan Holm Phone: +372 553 5365 E-mail: holm@karabana.com www.karabana.com

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Toomas Beneath the Valley of the Wild Wolves

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fter losing a well-paid engineering job, Toomas, a young hot wolf, gets cornered into working as a gigolo to support his family. He is keeping it as a secret from his pregnant wife Viivi. Viivi also has a secret: she is attending a female empowerment seminar involving male slaves. When Toomas gets a role in a sexploitation movie it becomes harder to keep his new profession a secret. DIRECTOR CHINTIS LUNDGREN is an Estonian-born animator currently living in Croatia. Self-taught, Lundgren’s

body of work includes an assortment of quirky music videos, PSAs and short films featuring a light, absurdist tone along with distinct anthropomorphic characters. In 2011, Lundgren created her own animation studio called Chintis Lundgreni Animatsioonistuudio and later co-founded Adriatic Animation, an animation studio based in Croatia. Her award-winning shorts Manivald (2017) and Life with Herman H. Rott (2015) have screened at numerous international festivals inclu­ding Sundance, Annecy, Animafest Zagreb, Hiroshima and Ottawa.

FILM INFO Original title: Toomas teispool metsikute huntide orgu Language: English Director: Chintis Lundgren Screenwriters: Chintis Lundgren, Draško Ivezic Animator: Chintis Lundgren Production Designer: Chintis Lundgren Editors: Chintis Lundgren, Draško Ivezic Composer: Terence Dunn Technique: drawn animation Producer: Chintis Lundgren Co-producers: Draško Ivezic, Emmanuel-Alain Raynal Produced by: Chintis Lundgreni Animatsioonistuudio (Estonia), Adriatic Animation (Croatia), Miyu Productions (France) World premiere: June 2019, Annecy IAFF 16 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Chintis Lundgreni Animatsioonistuudio Phone: +372 5193 0739 E-mail: chintis.lundgren@gmail.com www.chintislundgren.com

ESTONIAN FILM

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NEW FILM

Orpheus

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rpheus can enchant everyone with his music, including animals and plants. His song can even rescue his beloved Euredice from the underworld. But there is one condition - until Orpheus reaches the land of the living, he cannot turn around to see if his love is truly following him. DIRECTOR PRIIT TENDER was born in 1971 in Tallinn, Estonia. He

FILM INFO is an Estonian animator – the director, designer and writer of many animated short films. His author films are driven by surreal imagery, black humor and dark existential journeys. Priit’s films have won prizes and nominations from the most important short and animation film festivals, including Annecy, Ottawa, Hiroshima, Dresden, Fredrikstad, Utrecht.

Original title: Orpheus Languages: no dialogue Director: Priit Tender Screenwriter: Priit Tender Compositor: Priit Tender Animators: Ülle Metsur, Tarmo Vaarmets, Maiken Silla, Dag-Ole Solaas, Priit Tender Production Designer: Priit Tender Editor: Priit Tender Composer: Kadri Voorand Sound: Horret Kuus Technique: drawn animation Producer: Kalev Tamm Produced by: Eesti Joonisfilm World premiere: June 2019, Annecy IAFF 13 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Eesti Joonisfilm Phone: +372 677 4228 E-mail: info@joonisfilm.ee www.joonisfilm.ee

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ESTONIAN FILM


Winter in the Rainforest

I

n one of the shadowy corners of the world there is a place where all impossible dreams and fantasies seem to come true. In a rainforest among the lush nature there live fragile animals made of china. In the wild rivers the weird white stone creatures come to life: birds with legs like human fingers are hunting fish with wings, segmented spiders who are catching miniature dancers to their webs… This is a surreal world with no logic: the time passes here oddly, it is inhabited by mysterious creatures, the nature is exotic but familiar at the same time, the sounds of nature create mixed feelings - is it really a rainforest or a northern pine forest...? Winter in the Rainforest is a surreal animated film taking place in the tropical rainforest mixed with Mexican nature, ceramic surreal creatures, Estonian music and sounds of tropical rainforest and northern nature.

DIRECTOR ANU-LAURA TUTTELBERG graduated with a MA degree in Animation at the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2013. She made her first puppet film animation Fly Mill as her graduation film. Fly Mill has screened in numerous festivals around the world and won nearly 20 prizes. Her first film after graduation, a short animated film On the Other Side of the Woods premiered in June 2014 at Annecy IAFF and has won three first prizes and a best debut prize at festivals so far. She has made set designs for short stop-motion animations such as The Lemonade Tale and a puppet film Tik-Tak (2014) in Nukufilm studio and It’s About Time (2014) in Atomart studio, Latvia. She was also working on set design for the feature puppet film Captain Morten and the Spider Queen in Nukufilm studio.

FILM INFO Original title: Talv vihmametsas Language: no dialogue Director: Anu-Laura Tuttelberg Screenwriter: Anu-Laura Tuttelberg Cinematographer: Anu-Laura Tuttelberg Animators: Anu-Laura Tuttelberg, Olga Stalev Production Designer: Anu-Laura Tuttelberg Editor: Anu-Laura Tuttelberg Composer: Maarja Nuut Technique: stop-motion animation Producers: Andrus Raudsalu, Andres Mänd, Kerdi Oengo, Anu Laura Tuttelberg Co-producers: Daniel Irabien Peniche, Agne Adomene Produced by: Nukufilm (Estonia), Estudio Carabas (Mexico), Art Shot VSI (Lithuania), International premiere: June 2019, Zagreb FF 6 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Nukufilm Kerdi Oengo Phone: +372 615 5323 E-mail: nukufilm@nukufilm.ee www.nukufilm.ee

ESTONIAN FILM

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NEW FILM

Funeral Diaries

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he daily bread of ministers of small congregations is not sermons in the church; it is constant work with the old and the dying. A holy man who has been removed from his friends and peers and suddenly transplanted into another culture is often lonely and broken himself. Three ministers have been invited from Estonia to serve the exile congregations in Toronto. By now, the main job of Jüri, Kalle and Mart is to bury the generation that fled Estonia in 1944. The documentary uses burials to talk about the disappearance of traditional funeral services and the profession of clergyman. The everyday life of the three protagonists tells a bigger story of church, faith and a fading émigré identity. The main characters have a modern and bright outlook on life and while practising a past profession try to adopt to the ever-changing world where everything old and familiar slips through the fingers like handful of dust.

DIRECTOR MARKO RAAT graduated film school in Tallinn in 1998. He has directed documentaries, full length features, video art works, TV productions, directed in theatre and has been involved in several art projects. Selected filmography: Agent Wild Duck (2002, feature), Knife (2007, feature), Toomik´s Film (2008, documentary), The Snow Queen (2010, feature), Fast Eddy’s Old News (2015, documentary)

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ESTONIAN FILM

Marko Raat

FILM INFO Original title: Matusepäevikud Theme: documentary, religion Languages: Estonian, English Director: Marko Raat Screenwriter: Marko Raat Cinematographer: Marko Raat Editor: Madli Lääne Sound: Harmo Kallaste, Ivo Felt Producer: Ivo Felt Produced by: Allfilm Domestic premiere: January 30, 2019, DocPoint Tallinn International premiere: DOK.fest München 2019 90 min / DCP /1.85:1 /5.1 CONTACT Allfilm Phone: +372 672 9070 E-mail: allfilm@allfilm.ee www.allfilm.ee


To Share or Not to Share

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ark is a traveller and he believes in life beyond capitalism. He has given up his successful squash coach career in London and now, in Tallinn, he invites people to join a community where nobody uses any money and everyone shares with each other their skills, experiences, food, and love. Tantric energy liberation techniques are his means to release the Estonian people from the chains of ownership instinct. Struggling to reach the goal, Mark is challenged by a force even greater than his own beliefs. DIRECTOR MINNA HINT born in 1981, lives and works in Tallinn.

Has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Arts. Since 2017, she’s a curator of artist-run-space Kraam. She’s also one of the organisers of Ladyfest Tallinn. Selected filmography: Gross National Happiness (2010), Help, I Need love (2017) DIRECTOR MEELIS MUHU is a director and producer of documentary films. Born in 1972 in Paide, Estonia. Lives and works in Tallinn. In 1996, graduated from Tallinn Pedagogical University, holds a BA in Directing. He was the producer for Minna Hint’s previous documentary Help, I Need Love (2017).

FILM INFO Original title: Jagada või mitte jagada Theme: documentary, spirituality, social issues Language: English Directors: Minna Hint, Meelis Muhu Screenwriter: Minna Hint Cinematographers: Minna Hint, Meelis Muhu Editor: Meelis Muhu Sound: Minna Hint, Meelis Muhu Producer: Meelis Muhu Produced by: In-Ruum Domestic premiere: January 31, 2019 Docpoint Tallinn International premiere: April 2019, Hot Docs - Canadian International Documentary Festival 75 min / DCP /16:9 /5.1 CONTACT In-Ruum Meelis Muhu Phone: +372 507 8163 E-mail: meelis@inruum.ee

ESTONIAN FILM

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NEW FILM

Tõnu Kõrvits. Moorland Elegies

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oorland Elegies is a journey into the darkest, most mysterious corners of loneliness: to a place where you may not even dare to look.” -Tõnu Kõrvits The film Moorland Elegies is named after Tõnu’s nine-part choir cycle, based on Emily Brontë’s almost gothic, dark poetry, that invokes spiritual conditions delicately translated into natural imagery. Tõnu Kõrvits - one of the most performed Estonian composers – doesn’t open up easily. His person and music carry a secret that only unravels for those who can see behind the words, who forget themselves in the music and let the sounds Tõnu created take them along on a mystical, poetical journey that changes anyone who arrives at the end. Visually stunning Moorland Elegies is a film about a composer, his music and the people who are touched by his music.

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ESTONIAN FILM

DIRECTOR MARIANNE KÕRVER born in 1980, is a documentary filmmaker. She graduated from the Baltic Film and Media School, majoring in Film Directing. She has done several portrait documentaries about Estonian artists (painter and fashion designer Agu Pilt, jewellery designer Kadri Mälk) and composers (Eduard Tubin and Erkki-Sven Tüür). Marianne Kõrver’s main subjects of interest are human, environment and religion - and the difficult and contradictory relations between these subjects in the modern Western civilization. She has been working in theatres and also with opera. Selected filmography: Elusive Miracle (2006, short feature), Erkki-Sven Tüür: 7 Etudes in Pictures (2010, documentary), The Measure of Man (2011, documentary), Waves and Vibes (2015, documentary short), The Bank (2018, TV series)

FILM INFO Original title: Tõnu Kõrvits. Lageda laulud Theme: documentary, music Language: Estonian Director: Marianne Kõrver Screenwriters: Marianne Kõrver, Ülo Krigul Cinematographers: Marianne Kõrver, Margus Sikk Editor: Marianne Kõrver Composer: Tõnu Kõrvits Sound: Lauri-Dag Tüür Producer: Marianne Kõrver Produced by: Klaasmeri Domestic premiere: November 6, 2018 International premiere: May 2019, Krakow FF 58 min / DCP / 16:9 / Stereo CONTACT Klaasmeri Phone: +372 5691 1149 E-mail: klaasmeri@gmail.com


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Estonian Film 2019 / 2  

Cover star of the new edition of Estonian Film is director Martti Helde. There's also interviews with directors Marianne Kõrver and Tanel To...

Estonian Film 2019 / 2  

Cover star of the new edition of Estonian Film is director Martti Helde. There's also interviews with directors Marianne Kõrver and Tanel To...

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