Estonian Film 2021/3

Page 1



w w w.f ilmi.e e



Talented Volia Chajkouskaya Chooses to Tell Unique Stories

Kadri Kõusaar

Katrin Kissa's

Good Year


Multi-awarded Costume Designer

Found Her Soul in Desert


Tallinn Film Wonderland



ne of the most bizarre years of recent times is coming to an end, and Estonia is still very much affected by the pandemic. Local cinemas are not doing well at the moment, and the landscape of film distribution has changed – how radically, we will see over time. This autumn, Estonian film faced many difficulties, but the worst was avoided when it comes to financing our films. The film production support for the year 2021 turned out to be formulated in the state budget as a one-year uplift, not permanent. And the budget for the Estonian Film Institute (EFI) was not automatically continued for 2022. This presented a potential cut of almost a third (32.6%) in the budget for production of films. However, during summer and autumn, Estonian filmmakers made several public appeals, talked directly to politicians, parliamentarians, and members of the Government, asking them to cut the cuts, and instead make film production support permanent and secure. In September 2021, the Government decided that the additional and permanent support for film production will be 2 million euro per year. This means that in 2022 the EFI’s total budget will be 1 million euro lower than in 2021. The fight to raise the funding for 2023 continues. For example, EFI made a proposal to the Government to start negotiations on using Article 13 in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) to broaden support for local filmmakers by introducing some taxes for content distributors in order to support content producers, as is the case in many EU Member States. But the good news is that the film sector got support from the Estonian Parliament to build a new studio complex in Estonia. Tallinn Film Wonderland was put on the list of nationally important objects – meaning once again the state will be partnering with the film sector. You can read more about the studio complex from pages 3–4 of the current issue of Estonian Film. In the new magazine of Estonian Film, we provide you with the summary of our first edition of Animafest. You can also read about Kadri Kõusaar and her new film Deser­ted. Also, there is an interesting interview with one of the best Estonian production designers, Eugen Tamberg. Black Nights celebrates its 25th anniversary, and the Baltic Event turns 20. The focus of the Baltic Event is on the UK and we will welcome many distinguished guests from the UK to Tallinn. Last but not least, we include a review of this year’s Oscar candidate film On the Water by veteran film director Peeter Simm. Stay tuned!

Edith Sepp, CEO of Estonian Film Institute

Content 4

NEWS Building A Wonderland


IN FOCUS Volia Chajkouskaya: A Doc Powerhouse

12 NEWS On the Water Oscar Entry 13 NEWS Film Estonia Nominated

for LGMI Award

14 NEWS Totally Boss in Prodction 16 COVER STORY Kadri Kõusaar


A Desert Mystery


22 NEWS Stairway to Heaven

in Production

24 TALENT Eugen Tamberg

Scissors in Hand

28 NEWS Estonian Film and TV Awards 30 PRODUCER Katrin Kissa

The Year of Kissa

34 EVENT Animist – a New Festival 38 EVENT PÖFF – The Old Wise Wolf


40 EVENT Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event 42 FUNDS How to Find Money in Estonia 44 REVIEW Kratt 48 REVIEW On the Water 50 NEW FILMS The overview of

the latest Estonian films

Estonian Film is published three times per year by Estonian Film Institute Estonian Film Institute Uus 3, 10111, Tallinn, Estonia Phone: +372 627 6060 I E-mail: I Editor in Chief: Eda Koppel Contributing Editor: Maria Ulfsak (Eesti Ekspress) Contributors: Andrei Liimets, Aurelia Aasa, Filipp Kruusvall Translation: Tristan Priimägi, Maris Karjatse Linguistic Editing: Paul Emmet Design & Layout: Profimeedia Printed by Reflekt Cover: Kadri Kõusaar, photo by Kadri Kõusaar, MUAH by Katrin Sangla



The State of Things




a Wonderland By the end of 2023, Tallinn Film City will be completed in Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn. By EFI Photos by Erlend Štaub


he sound-proofed complex of film studios, with up to 14-metres high ceilings, will be the largest and most modern film studios in the Baltic Sea region. The film city will host studio area of 2600 m². The founders of the film city aim to provide a full service for professionals in the field of film, TV series, and commercials – to bring together enterprises in the field of set pieces, costumes, and filming equipment. The film city will also provide make-up rooms, costume and dressing rooms, production office, green rooms, stars’ rooms, and catering. Gren Noormets, manager of Tallinn Film Wonderland: “Tallinn Film Won-

derland has been designed and put into practice by production companies, which means that the film city is going to be the



filming location of their dreams where the filmmakers will have everything they need. In order to save money and valuable time, it is important that everything is planned very carefully – the more high-quality services will be located in the same place, the more effective will be all the activities related to filming.” During the past few years, the Estonian film industry has gained extensive attention with its high-quality films: Estonians took part in the production process of both Compartment No. 6 that won the grand prix at Cannes Film Festival; and Captain Volkonogov Escaped that was nominated for the Golden Lion prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival; also, short film My Dear Corpses, directed by Estonian film director German Golub, won the Student Academy Award last year. Estonian filmmakers proved

Gren Noormets


their professional approach with the feature film Tenet, the Hollywood blockbuster directed by Christopher Nolan that was partly filmed in Estonia. Other big names have also found their way to Estonia. A new generation of professionals in the film industry are being educated at the Baltic Film, Media and Arts School in Tallinn, the only English-speaking film school in the Baltic States. Also, the cash-rebate support system is successfully been applied, this provides film producers with the opportunity to get back up to 30% of the budget spent on filming in Estonia. Esko Rips, film producer and chairman of the board of Tallinn Film Wonderland, adds: “The Estonian film in-

dustry meets all expectations in order to reach the absolute top in Europe. The lack of a proper film studio in Estonia has been a major reason why foreign film producers have chosen Vilnius or Prague

To be completed: estimated by late 2023 Three sound-proofed studios: 1300 m2, 825 m2, and 505 m2 Ceiling height up to 14 m Two larger studios can be integrated. Additional rooms next to studios of 6300 m2 include: make-up rooms, costume and dressing rooms, office space for production, green room, actors' rooms, catering, preparation and storing of set pieces. Premises of 3000 m2 for other services related to film industry.

instead of Estonia. We certainly hope that the situation changes and the largest and most modern film studio in the Baltic Sea region will play an essential part in choosing Estonia to produce a film, a TV series or commercial.” The film studio complex will be also ideal for producing quality series that are gaining increasing popularity in the world, and there is permanent deficiency in studio bookings in Europe. The film city will be constructed on a territory of 56,000 square metres, located by the sea, close to the centre of Tallinn.

Esko Rips

During the second development phase, even larger studios are planned to be built, including a multimedia studio and animation centre, as well as office spaces for production, post-production, casting companies, a small cinema hall, catering areas, and recreational public space. EF






Doc Power house A

From Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, to grim stories from Belarus, young and talented producer and director Volia Chajkouskaya makes waves internationally. By Filipp Kruusvall Photos by Viktor Koshkin


er directorial debut short documentary Common Language had a premiere at Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival and is selected for PÖFF Shorts. As a producer, she’s behind director Max Golomidov’s feature documentary Yoyogi that has successfully appeared at Meeting Point Vilnius, Sheffield MeetMarket, and Sunny Side of the Doc. Producer Volia Chajkouskaya talks about the project that brought the fascinating life of Tokyo’s biggest park Yoyogi to the screen. Max Golomidov from Estonia is a talented cinematographer and is known for Anshul Chauhan’s Kontora (winner of Grand Prix for the Best Film of PÖFF) and several internationally appraised doc-

umentaries. Where did he get the idea to shoot his debut film as a director?

He started to just film Yoyogi Park in Tokyo at some point. This intention hit him because initially, for a moment back then, he had just relocated to Tokyo and was missing Estonian landscapes and spaciousness in a crowded megalopolis. He was visiting many places in Tokyo, looking for something that could remind him of Estonian nature, and he found Yoyogi Park. At first, he started to take pictures, but then realised images were not enough and so he started to film. He contacted me with the very raw idea that he wanted to make a film about a park, and we began to discuss and unravel it. In a way, I guess, I convinced him that he should be a director, not only a cinematographer of this project since it’s his idea. ESTONIAN FILM



What makes this project so unique?

Max has a very special gaze. He is observant and patient; he can ‘hunt’ reality, waiting for the best to come. It’s not the easiest and shortest way to make films. Moreover, this approach might be not understandable for some people. Because such documentary films are very demanding on the viewers - one has to be a very advanced and prepared viewer to perceive and enjoy such films as our upcoming Yoyogi. This approach, which denies and minimises any manipulation of viewers’ emotions, is extraordinary. Besides, it’s also a co-production of Estonia and Japan, which is quite a combo and does not happen so often. What is Max doing in Japan?

Max is working in one of the world’s most prominent colour grading studios; they do colour for Disney and companies like that, plus many Japanese pop and rock stars. And I guess Max has a very special eye. For example, I can always tell if he has done the colour; it’s very recognisable. How would you describe his working method?

It’s pure observation, and I would even say - hunting reality, not interfering or interacting, just observing, like sitting in the bushes and waiting for the right/best moment to come. It requires a lot of patience, kindness, and space on hard drives. What is the most surprising thing you discovered about Yoyogi Park?

Unfortunately, I haven’t been to Yoyogi Park in real life yet. However, while watching rushes of the film, I got acquainted with it quite well; we have many hours of footage that was not included in the film, and hopefully, we can make an art exhibition out of it. From what I saw, I guess the most surprising was to discover how loose Japanese people are. They can do meditation, yoga, weird dancing, and spiritual practices considered quite intimate in public places



As a produ­ cer, Volia is behind director Max Golomidov’s feature documentary Yoyogi that has successfully appeared at Meeting Point Vilnius, Sheffield MeetMarket, and Sunny Side of the Doc.

like parks. And it all looks much more outstanding than it sounds. While observing, one discovers unexpected beauty and interest in relatively simple things. Believe it or not, I had a stereotype in my head that Japanese people are very shy, but anyone else who had such a stereotype will change their opinion after watching our film. Also, one of the surprising things was seeing rehearsals of Japanese sports fans in the park. Even British football fans can envy Japanese fans for the dedication they have for shouting. And on top of that - it looks hilarious. At what stage is the project Yoyogi right now?

The project is in post-production. We started editing while still being in production because we have a lot of material, and because we wanted to find the right form and best structure for such material. It’s worth mentioning that our editor is Dmitrii Kalashnikov, with whom I started my film producer’s career. We did his documentary film The Road Movie together in 2016. And I am happy we are working with Dmitrii on such a great international project as Yoyogi. We will be ready for a release in 2022. What other projects are you are currently working on?

Besides Yoyogi, the most important project is the one

I’m directing and producing in Allfilm. The working title of this documentary is The Wife Of. It’s about the Belarusian freedom movement and the wives of political prisoners. We film in several countries, and Estonia is one of the shooting and co-production countries. I am not saying too many details publicly yet because of security reasons. But we are still looking for more funds and partners for this project. And I am happy to work on a timely project, help make a positive change, and focus on humanism, solidarity, and the power of women. The Wife Of is in late development/production and was selected for the Ex Oriente Film workshop and EAVE Change. My directorial debut brings extra meaning and value to this project, particularly for me.

The main challenge has always been the same, and comes from the inside: self-esteem and life uncertainties. pany abroad, and that I also had to close the gap and get an education in film to get rid of the impostor syndrome that was pursuing me from time to time. I found out about the BFM documentary film Masters Degree; I got to know that one of the professors will be Riho Västrik, and I thought: amazing, that’s what I need, and that’s the university fee I can try to find. It was much less money than going to study in London. I also figured out that the Estonian e-residency permits you to launch a company even if you are not an EU citizen; just great opportunities that Estonia gives to people from outside. So the puzzle came together. What did you do before? Where did you study?

You have worked for several years in Estonia. When did you first hear about the Estonian film industry? What makes Estonia an attractive place to live and work for you?

I come from Belarus, where there is no film industry from a European perspective, and I am a completely self-made and self-taught producer and filmmaker from the start. Travelling around film festivals and markets starting from 2014 was my way of learning about the film industry – sort of learning by doing. Apart from that, I have run the Northern Lights Nordic Baltic Film festival in Belarus since 2015, and since 2017 we have been screening Baltic films there. This was when I started to look at the Estonian film industry, first as a festival programmer and runner, searching for Estonian films to show in Belarus. In particular, at Berlinale, I was always carefully exploring the Estonian Pavilion, checking all the info, reading catalogues, watching films, networking. At the same time, I always had a dream to make films myself. I researched programs and opportunities, and once even applied for KinoEyes, for which the Baltic Film and Media School is one of the premises. But I was not accepted and I started to produce, and established my company in Belarus. But Belarus is a hard country in which to live and to make films. I did not feel secure either as a person or as a producer. At some point, I decided that I should start a com-

Yoyogi is the project that brought the fascinating life of Tokyo’s biggest park to the screen.

My Bachelor is in journalism. I graduated from the Belarusian State University’s Institute of Journalism, and my experience as a journalist started already in the 9th grade. I was more an art journalist/analyst, and an art and film critic. I was also writing about social issues from time to time. Then at some point, I decided to quit journalism because it’s quite a tricky profession in such a totalitarian country like Belarus, and I worked two years as a PR-manager in a prominent Belarusian IT-company. My journalistic background, and an eagerness for action, however, pushed me to launch a corporate newspaper there. About that time, I was invited by the Finish Liaison Office in Belarus and the Nordic Council of Ministers Lithuanian Office to organise screenings of Nordic Films. It was supposed to be just a one-off event that I managed to turn into an annual festival and expand. It’s already now seven years old, for the last two years we did completely online editions. Who knows, I might need to relocate the festival to Estonia because of the political situation in Belarus. How would you describe your goals and dreams as a producer or director? What are the main challenges?

The main challenge has always been the same, and comes from the inside: self-esteem and life uncertainties. This is one of my inspirations to expand my proESTONIAN FILM


IN FOCUS I realised that I wanted to be more vocal, have a voice, and talk about ideas. study in BFM, keep producing, keep my production company running, and earn a living out of it. I wanted to join a more prominent company, contribute to it and learn from it, be safer on all levels. So, I was fortunate to join Allfilm, where I am now directing (and producing) my first feature documentary. My goal is to keep doing what I am doing more sustainably and keep on learning, and I am sure it will lead me the right way. What is your source of inspiration and strength?

I get inspired when I read, or watch films, when I travel to nature, and when I am alone and have time to think, write, meditate, and do yoga. Also – talking and sharing about life and my projects in a safe environment inspires me a lot. When I know I can share all my strengths and vulnerabilities without being judged, and I get power in dialogue. I am also inspired and empowered by such women as Marina Abramovich, Susan Sontag, Hannah Arendt, Svetlana Aleksievich, and many others. How do you see the future of the film industry? What are the trends you have noticed, and what are you looking forward to?

fessional career and start to direct films, not only produce films by other directors. At some point, I realised that I wanted to be more vocal, have a voice, and talk about ideas. Let’s be fair: producers are often perceived (and this is also a very patriarchal attitude, unfortunately) as a function, and directors and other film people rarely talk with producers about ideas. Also, it is dangerous to open up your mouth in Belarus because you can end up in prison. Luckily, Estonia is a free country, and I can talk here. So my challenge is also – going through my fear of self-expression. As a producer, I believe I have managed to undergo many challenges already, including how in school I was terrible at maths. And look at me now – I am making budgets, although it took some time, nerves, and perseverance. Maybe the main challenge is running my own company Volia Films, sustainability is a challenge that I haven’t sorted out yet, but I keep on pondering about it. At some point, I realised that it was hard for me to move to a foreign country, Estonia,



Volia’s main challenge in Estonia is to run her own company Volia Films.

We live in exciting times. A few years ago, I thought I could guess the trends in film. But now – I won’t take the responsibility to predict anything. What I observe, and am very happy about, is that more and more women generally, and more and more women who used to do different jobs in the film industry, have started making their own films. Something in the air makes us want to tell our stories and open up, and that the world is also interested in them. Incidentally, most of the films I selected for Northern Lights FF 2021 are directed by women; most of them are first-time directors with a background in acting, producing, and management. This is amazing! On the other hand, we see that the VOD platform has taken over, and now everyone ‘wants to work with Netflix’. Where will it lead us – I am not sure. As well, where does the overproduction of films (as well as everything else in the world) lead us to - I am not sure. However, several years ago, I said that Belarus is a ‘Klondike’ for documentary filmmakers, because it’s so underrepresented and under-discovered. Well, given the political struggle going on in Belarus – I assume this is still true. Still, I am an optimist. And as David Lynch said: “I am wearing the dark glasses today because I see the future. And the future is very bright.”. EF



ENTRY A selection committee decided to represent Estonia in the race for Best International Feature Film Aca­demy Awards in 2022 with the drama feature On the Water, directed by Peeter Simm and adapted for screen from the best-selling novel by Olavi Ruitlane. By EFI Photos by Liisabet Valdoja


he selection process can be characterised by the division of the committee votes between several films, and the final decision was reached by a narrow margin,” said Edith Sepp, head of the Estonian Film Institute. The independent committee, led by Sepp, picked their champion out of seven contestants. “The choice of the committee shows that our homegrown Estonian stories are truly important today.”



Peeter Simm has managed to convey the emotional coming-of-age story well, and he also shows humanity and warmth for his characters, in spite of tough surroundings, the committee concluded. As a bonus, the committee emphasised as an achievement the depiction of the particular era truthfully. “The characters are real, and feel natural, not to mention the enjoyable and engaging portrayal by the actors,” Sepp said. “What a blessing when a good story meets a creative team that clicks,” producer Marju Lepp said. “We hope that our tough, but hopeful, film made with love will move the members of the American Film Academy.” The story takes place at the beginning of the 1980’s in the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, in Võrumaa county by the beautiful lake Tamula. The main character Andres (Rasmus Ermel) is being raised by his occasionally strict grandparents, after his father has gone missing in the Soviet Russia, and his mother has fled to Swe-

den. As a young teenager, Andres loves to go fishing, and he does so together with his friend Kolla (Aarne Soro), a slightly eccentric fellow, whom Andres considers to be ’the smartest man who is officially diagnosed with lunacy’. On his coming-of-age journey, Andres has to face the usual challenges many teenagers encounter, from first love to heartbreak, the hardships of school, and also the loss of loved ones, and the medical problems of a scolding grandpa. “Simm has managed to create a life-like and fresh glimpse of the past from the original text by Ruitlane, without delving too deep into the nostalgia of the Soviet era, or taking a biased approach towards those for whom life did not treat kindly,” the committee said. The film, produced by Filmivabrik, is the twelfth feature film for Simm, and is considered one of the highlights of his career. On the Water premiered in the main competition program at BNFF in November of 2020. The production designer of the film Eugen Tamberg received a national film award EFTA for his work in On the Water. EF


The interview with Eugen Tamberg is on page 24. The review of On the Water can be found on page 48.

such a small country as ours. As it is the most prestigious institution of its kind, membership is a worthy recognition and a sign of trust. This year, Estonia was nominated for the first time, and that’s a big achievement on its own. Estonia has been nominated in the Outstanding Film Commission category for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. Tenet won the LMGI award for Outstanding Locations in a Contemporary Film. Most certainly, Estonia has a big part to play in that as well. In this sector of the film industry, it’s the most prestigious award, comparable to the Oscars. More than 300 candidates were put forward this year.

Film Estonia Nominated for LMGI Award F The Estonian Film Institute, or rather Film Estonia film commissioner Nele Paves was nomina­ ted for the LMGI (Location Mana­ gers Guild International) award in the Outstanding Film Commission category, in regard to the Estonian shoot for Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster film Tenet. By Maria Ulfsak Photo by Virge Viertek

irst, congratulations for the nomination. Please tell us what kind of organization is the LMGI? The Location Managers Guild International is the most important representative body of location managers and connected film industry professionals around the world. Initially it united only Americans and became international in 2016. There are two Estonian members of the LMGI, Kristofer Piir (Allfilm) and Hannes Paldrok (Location Unit) – that is exceptional for

What does this recognition mean for you and Estonia in general? This nomination is in some ways the conclusion of a very long process. Getting Tenet to film in Estonia, and servicing the shoot here, proved to be so successful that it gained attention internationally, and has helped to cement Estonia’s reputation as a location. Film Estonia was nominated alongside the Australian, Canadian, American and British regional film commissions; UK’s Bath has been nominated for the Netflix hit show Bridgerton. The nomination is remarkable when you consider that little Estonia is competing with the big states as an equal. Being selected as one of the top six countries means the biggest players recognised Estonia’s role in servicing Tenet. But we tried hard to achieve this, with the whole film sector. The arrival of Nolan’s film to Estonia was not a coincidence, it was preceded by meeting with international top players, and the outstanding works of our own filmmakers. Not to mention the local servicing of Tenet which resulted in the initial planned capacity of Estonian involvement multiplying in size, both time-wise and financially. Can the work with Tenet be seen as a long-time investment? Yes, the value increases in time. We see today that interest in working with Estonia has increased. As the head of Film Estonia, I get new enquiries on a daily basis and applications to come and film here. The projects proposed are longer and more substantial, compared to the ones presented to us a couple of years ago. This tells us that Estonia is being taken seriously as a film country. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Two young actors relaxing on the set - Ruben Tolk (on the left) and Robert Aleksander Peets.

Boss Totally

This summer, filming of the family feature film Totally Boss was completed in Estonia. It is the first feature of Ingomar Vihmar, who has been mainly known as a stage director. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Jan Henrik Pärnik, Janet Kljuzin and Joonas Sisask




he producer of the film is Esko Rips, the film is produced by Nafta Films. The budget is 1.3 million euro and the premiere is planned to take place in 2022. The protagonists of Totally Boss are 13-year-old Oliver and Sass who make a nose-shaped eyeglass holder in the crafts class at school. The gadget unexpectedly excites the interest of a mysterious large investor. At the same time, Oliver’s father, who has been laid off from work, struggles hard to find a new job. The boys are too young to start their own business, so Oli-

From the left: the director of Totally Boss Ingomar Vihmar, the cinematographer Heiko Sikka and the producer Esko Rips.

ver gets an idea how to kill two birds with one stone: they invite Oliver’s father to become the manager of their company. The problem is that Oliver’s father is unaware of the fact that he is working for his own son and the son’s friend Sass... The target audience of the film is the age group 6–14, but it is also suitable for teenagers as well as their parents. The screenplay of the film is written by Martin Algus, cameraman is Heiko Sikka, production designer Anneli Arusaar and costume artist Jaanus Vahtra. The leading roles are played by Ruben Tolk, Saara Pius and Mattias Naan. Totally Boss is a universal story about important issues for young people (such as the world of start-ups, complicated family relationships, etc) through the prism of humour. According to Esko Rips, the producer of the film, the aim is to use a well-planned marketing and distribution strategy in order to attract at least 150,000 cinema viewers. Rips adds: “The fact that young people tend to watch films more than once certainly

helps to achieve the purpose. This was also proven by the experience of the previous successful children’s film The Secret Society of Souptown (2015), also produced by Nafta Films.” The supporters of the film are the Estonian Film Institute, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Tartu Film Fund and Elisa. THREE QUESTIONS TO PRODUCER ESKO RIPS:

How far along are you in the current production phase, and how did the filming go?

The development stage of the screenplay of Totally Boss lasted for about three years. The story itself comes from the United States of America – the original idea and initial structure of the story were created by Tom Abrams, James Nathan, and David Weber. Since the original story was written during the turn of the century, our screenwriter Martin Algus set an important objective to adjust the story to the local context and the present day. However, the certain touch of America inherent to the story has a refreshing and self-explanatory effect on the audience of this film. The filming stated this July in Tartu. We had to postpone some planned shooting days, but we were flexible and managed to complete the production in September. Today we are in the postproduction stage which is one of the most exciting phases since now all different parts of the film will be interwoven into a whole piece. Ingomar Vihmar is mostly known as a stage director. What are his bes skills as a film director?

Special emphasis was on the selection of the actors, so the chosen young actors have become important. One of Ingomar’s

strongest sides is working with an actor – in the world of theatre, Ingomar is considered to be one of the most innovative directors. We are really happy that we could bring Ingomar’s fresh perspectives into the world of film. In the process of elaborating the screenplay, we wanted to pay a special attention namely to the true reflection of characters and their relationships with each other, and Ingomar was the right person to bring this out on the set. What about Totally Boss has been the thing that ignited you? Why does this story seem to be important for you in the present day?

Totally Boss is not a fairytale – it is a real story that has grown out of real problems. The film tackles several acute issues of the present day: in Estonia, numerous people relate to the subject of losing one’s job, and current times require adult retraining and acquiring new skills. Totally Boss reflects these issues in a very natural way, yet adds a touch of humour that gives hope and motivation. The film also contemplates the themes of innovativeness of the young generation and the so-called “start-up company’s way of thinking” for which Estonia is internationally well-known. The family film gives us a great framework for performing the dynamics as well as parent-child relationships in a family. This combination allows us to bring to the audience a story that is both original and contemporary, human and touching. Besides everything else, our dedicated film crew and the creative team have always been motivated and inspiring. The team includes screenwriter Martin Algus, and director Ingomar Vihmar, cameraman-director Heiko Sikka (Phantom Owl Forest, The Polar Boy) and production designer Anneli Arusaar (Scandinavian Silence, The Days that Confused). Heiko adds novelty to the visual side of the film while borrowing familiar elements from pop culture and applying them playfully in a local context. Heiko’s approach is nicely connected to Anneli’s vision about the emphasized world view of an early teen where everything seems to be much cooler than in reality. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Desert Mystery A

Andrei Liimets talks to director Kadri Kõusaar about her new feature Deserted that had its world premiere in Busan International Film Festival. By Andrei Liimets Photos by Kadri Kõusaar


he film career of Kadri Kõusaar started with a bang after her debut feature Magnus was chosen as part of the Un Certain Regard program at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2007. She has since gone on to further international success, with her films picked for Tribeca and Karlovy Vary festivals. This year, Kõusaar returns with Deserted, a drama about kidnapping and love in the solitude of the desert. An Estonian-Swedish-Finnish co-production, the film stars Frida Westerdahl as Ingrid, a journalist working in the Middle East who gets taken hostage by a group of Palestinian freedom fighters, and Ali Suliman as Ali, the most gentle of the captors with whom Frida develops a increasingly warm relationship. We are meeting only a few days before the world premiere of Deserted at the Busan International Film Festival. How are you feeling – anxious, excited, at peace with the film finally finished?

It is a mixture of anxiety and excitement. This is the first time the film reaches anyone not part of the production. It feels somewhat surreal. After each film you forget this feeling and then it comes back, although it is always a little bit different. On the other hand, the premiere also feels different. In my mind, a premiere includes the production team and the actors, but due to the COVID-restrictions, only one person per project is allowed to attend per film. Even media from numerous countries is forbidden. This is not ideal, but we are looking forward to having larger premieres in



Europe and America. In a way it is nice that we get three premieres instead of one. You hit a real jackpot with your debut feature Magnus, making it all the way to the official selection of Cannes film festival. Does it feel like a step back, not making it to say, Berlin, Venice or Cannes this time around?

We made it to the final shortlist for Cannes! It was rather chaotic and there was a lot of competition with around 20 films making it all the way to the last round. Thanks to my first film I have maintained contact with the festival. It gives me the benefit of knowing that whenever I finish a film, they will really watch it, even if the answer is “no”. With some festivals, you don’t even know who, or if anyone, even watched your film, so it is a lottery without any personal contacts beforehand. This is also an existential milestone for me because I have been a bit naïve until now. I have always thought that if you just make a good film it will find an audience. But it’s not as simple as that. There’s an array of other players involved – agents, A-list actors, the sheer money pumped into production and distribution. Especially if you make an English language film, then you are competing in a different league. Once you’ve won the Golden Palm for example, no one will even wait to see the film, but will put it on the program. But there are very few such directors around. For the rest, it’s a wild competition, and like I mentioned before, there might be other factors or even political decisions involved.




It already seems like quite an achievement, the film is complete because you lost a chunk of the budget during the production. To complicate things even more, you were filming in Jordan during the pandemic. How much did this change what we see on the screen?

Frida Wes­ terdahl plays Ingrid, a journa­ list working in the Middle East.

We were able to complete everything that takes place in the desert just as planned. In the script, however, there was roughly a fifth of the film, taking place in the West before and after the central events, which we didn’t get to film due to losing the funding. Does it bother you in any way? Personally, I felt the story was better focused the way it was.

I guess the end result might be better due to that. The viewer gets to decide. We had to cut one character entirely, so of course it bothers me a little bit, but multiple people have said the film turned out better, more focused. I already have an idea how to use some of the elements that were left out in the future. How did you arrive at this story and why was it the one you wanted to tell on the screen? In terms of themes and locations it is very different to your previous works.

I’ve always been drawn to the desert – since I was 25 and first visited Sinai and the Sahara. I kept going back, and thanks to a friend who lived in Sinai, I could stay there for four months. We were really able to go off the beaten track – deep into the desert with the



Bedouins. I have such warm memories of that. Generally it’s safe, once you have a local trusted guide, but for a film crew we weren’t able to get the necessary permits, and perhaps it would have attracted unwanted attention from the more dangerous players in Sinai. So we made the decision to film in Jordan, that’s geographically very similar, but unlike Sinai it has an established film infrastructure. A more concrete inspiration behind the film was a series of articles in the BBC about a journalist who was kidnapped in Gaza. And also a book about the seven Estonian tourists kidnapped in Lebanon in 2011. My film, however, is more about two lonely souls connecting in the middle of the desert, a romantic love story, a bit like a fairy tale.

My film is more about two lonely souls connecting in the middle of the desert, a romantic love story. How were you able to cast Ali Suliman? He is a superstar in the Middle East, has played small parts in multiple Hollywood films, as well as starring in last year’s 200 Meters. Did you see him in the role from the beginning?

Yes. In fact I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role. We met in 2012 when we both acted in an Armenian short film. We kept in touch over the years, - once in London even shopping for baby clothes together for our kids, until I was finally able to confirm – yes, we have funding for the film! Then we started going through the script on Skype – me and Ali, and Frida who plays the female lead. I discovered Frida by pure accident – by just seeing her photo on the web page of a theatre in Stockholm. I googled her and found her e-mail. We did have other candidates, but she instantly had the right feel. She is a very beautiful woman, and also very warm. Ingrid had to be vulnerable and sensitive. All too often successful

Arab-Palesti­ nian film star Ali Suliman as Ali, the most gentle of the captors.

career women are portrayed as cold and stiff in films. Still, she had to be sharp enough to be believable as a journalist who has seen pretty much everything. It is one thing to find the actors who fit the roles individually, but this story lives or dies with the relationship between them. How did you build up the required chemistry, especially considering the pandemic and the actors coming from very different cultural backgrounds?

I have no idea what we would have done had we discovered during the rehearsals on Skype that Ali and Ingrid do not fit with each other. Luckily for us, they complimented each other very well, got along well, and joked around together. I had no doubt it would

work. They really trusted each other, and we were able to discuss all the details. The psychological situation they are thrown into is intricate – there is a strong power dynamic, then there is the love story, and there is also a bit of Stockholm syndrome. How much did you discuss how the relationship would develop while remaining believable?

I trust the actors very much. If there was an idea I put forward that they did not think would work, we discarded it. We were on the same page in terms of the central relationship not being built on sexual desire but rather being a friendship between two lonely people, a sort of close attachment, even clinging to each other in the middle of this desert where they are the only people. It is built on the need to share with someone. That’s where we started from and began to develop the relationship step by step while also building the tension.

The people that kidnap Ingrid are actually rather likable. They are small-time crooks, there are no Bin Ladens there. We put most of the menace into one of them, Moussa. Ali is sympathetic from the beginning. He is there only to do this one job. Then again, there are things left unsaid – the main characters don’t discuss what has happened before, they never tell each other everything. The film is poetic and romantic in parts but there is also a political layer. Were you not afraid to step into the minefield that engulfs the Israeli-Palestine conflict?

I wasn’t afraid because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to make this film. I think I remained on firm ESTONIAN FILM



Did you wish to take a stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or rather distance yourself from it?

I wished to be empathetic towards all sides. It is a hugely complicated situation. What I do take a stance against, and what I do want to reflect on, are the large numbers of civilians that get in the way, the “collateral damage”. You have quoted a Tuareg thought that in the desert you will find your soul. What did you find in the desert?

ground because I’m familiar with the context in Sinai, and therefore I was adamant in setting the film there. Yes, there are underlying issues like the illegal occupation and settlements of Israel, then the very widespread anti-semitism and anti-zionism amongst the Arabs, and in Sinai another colonial style conflict and power dynamic between Bedouins and Egyptians. Even some people in our production thought that the immense suffering of civilians in Gaza mentioned in the film were a sort of “creative license”, although sadly these things are true. Another bombing session began right after we had finished editing. You can argue that Hamas uses people as human shields, which might be true, but a mother who has lost her children is not at fault for that. It was important for me to show both sides. Of course, from an Israeli perspective, you could argue that Ingrid is more on the Palestinian side, but being a hostage, she wasn’t in a position to argue with her captors anyway.



Director Kadri Kõusaar with actor Ali Suliman on the set.

I think you will find your soul or at least come closer to it. I always get a sense of deep calm. The rest of the world disappears behind the mountains. There is only the eternity. The expanse gives you a different sense of calm than, for example, you get while walking in the forest. In the open space it is easier to fly. This peaceful atmosphere permeated everyone on the set and provided a wonderful calm workflow. I am already thinking about a desert trilogy. The second part could take place in Morocco, which is also a very special place. I would also love to return to Jordan. We talked about the budget being slashed. However, there are some special effects in the film, with the desert turning into a sea – or a sea of blood, to be more exact. Such effects are not cheap. Was it something you knew you had to include in the film?

It was not as expensive as you would think, but the people behind it were very good! This particular vision – desert turning into sea – in fact goes back to my first desert trip when I visited the Great Sand Sea on the border of Egypt and Libya. Even with my 3-megapixel camera back then, I could really capture the sand looking like sea. Of course, in the film it takes on more of a symbolic meaning, and reflects Ingrid’s mindset rather than merely being a visual allegory.

an Estonian I am expected to do films in Estonian about Estonia, preferably about 19th century peasants or anything to show the heroism of Estonians under Soviet rule. If you veer off from that “safe standard”, you are immediately punished by either complete rejection or you get half the amount of money that “pure” Estonian films do. For example, we had to shoot in Jordan with an international cast and COVID restrictions with 2.5 times less money than Estonian films shot locally. Then again, how can I blame the funding preferences when the whole Estonian film industry, including documentaries and animation, has less money than one Finnish TV-series. As you already hinted, there have been heated debates about the funding of Estonian films. The yearly budget was about to be scrapped from seven million Euros to four, then remained at six. Do you consider it a victory?

This is your second film in a row mainly from the perspective of a female lead. Most producers and directors are still men, but luckily more and more stories by and about women get made. Was it difficult to find funding for a film with a female director and a female lead?

Deserted was shot in Jordan during the pandemic.

Yes, there has been progress regarding female authors and topics, but the funding problems in Estonia stem from other factors. As you probably know, Estonia is a very low production capacity country and recent political decisions have made it even more so. As

No. It’s embarrassing. Some headlines stated that Estonian films received an extra two million, while in actuality we lost one million due to austerity measures from the government. Sadly, this just illustrates a broader ignorance about the film industry, and does not acknowledge how an Estonian film can work as a marketing tool for Estonia, even if the film has no relation to Estonia in terms of plot. Estonian filmmakers can create things that equal Hollywood while being mobile and working with a small team. Think about the potential once we get the film pavilion. I have no idea why we should leave all that money to Lithuania, the Czech Republic, or anyone else.” EF

Kadri Kõusaar

in competition (East of the West) at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

l is an Estonian writer and director. l She has published numerous film, literature and music-related articles, as well as novels Ego (2001), Free Rise (2004) and Alfa (2011). l Kadri has also worked as a radio-DJ and TV-host, and has a university degree in Spanish language and literature.

l Kadri’s third film Mother premiered in the official selection of Tribeca and toured in many festivals around the world. It was also the Estonian selection for the Foreign Film Academy Award. l Kadri’s fourth film Deserted premiered at Busan Film Festival 2021.


l Her debut feature Magnus (2007) was the first Estonian film ever included at the official selection of Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard). Magnus toured successfully in tens of film festivals around the world (including Rotterdam, Warsaw, Busan, Thessaloniki, Sarajevo, Moscow “Tomorrow“, Seattle, Vancouver). The Arbiter

l Kadri’s second film The Arbiter (2013) premiered internationally





Actors Mait Malmsten and Harriet Toompere are a couple both off-screen and on-screen.

Stairway to Heaven Writer and film director Mart Kivastik has written a screenplay based on his novel Stairway to Heaven, and is also the director of the film (of the same title) in production scheduled to be completed by late autumn 2022. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Manfred Vainokivi


ccording to the filmmakers, Stairway to Heaven is a story about time and music, friendship, love, death, life in the present day and in the 1970s, and the years of childhood. The protagonist of the film is middle-aged man named Uu. Uu’s old friend, an artist, confides a secret to Uu on his deathbed. He tells Uu how one can travel back in time. Uu is an engineer and he does not believe in miracles, but this



trick really works. It feels great to be in the past, there is an eternal summer and Procol Harum, long hair, girls, and Jenkki chewing gum. In real life it’s autumn, Uu’s friends are all middle-aged and bored, all the girls are married, and Uu’s father is sick. Finally Uu has to decide where to stay or how to go on with his life. The author of the tragicomic story has stated that his purpose is to find answers to the question concerning the time given to a man – and whether a

Director Mart Kivastik (on the right) and cinematographer Rein Kotov.

The first shooting period of Stairway to Heaven took place during the summer of 2021.

It is not a film about one generation, but a story about friendship, death and love. during his travels in time,” explains Lepp. For her as producer, it was namely the atmosphere, emotion, and the idea of the story that made her want to collaborate with director Mart Kivastik for the first time. The producer says that the COVID-19 pandemic did not cause any problems during the first filming period that took place in summer 2021. She comments: “So far, the most complicated part of the filming has been the large outdoor scenes since the streets, squares and sites had to have the appearance of those in the university town of the Soviet era in 1970s. This was a challenge both

for the artists’ team as well as the organizing team. The filming has been successful so far, but we have no idea what will happen in late autumn when we will film the protagonist in his middle-age years surrounded by his aging friends, burdened with bitterness and bald heads, while being constantly reminded of old age and death.” Among the crew of Stairway to Heaven is cinematographer Rein Kotov, and production production designer Pille Jänes, the producers are Marju Lepp and Manfred Vainokivi from Filmivabrik. The leading actors of the film are Mait Malmsten, Harriet Toompere, Timotei Sammul, Taavi Teplenkov, Rita Raave, Ivo Uukkivi, and others. The budget of Stairway to Heaven is a bit more than 900,000 euro; among the supporters are the Estonian Film Institute, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Tartu Film Fund, and private supporters. EF

middle-aged man facing aging is still able to enjoy life. Marju Lepp from Filmivabrik is the producer of the film. She says that on one hand, Stairway to Heaven is a generation film since the majority of the film is set in the protagonist’s childhood in the 1970s. “I come from the same generation as the director – and the film actually depicts this period – including childhood, music, fashion, sports camps, etc. of that era. And yet, it is not a film about one generation, but a human story about friendship, death, and love. The emphasis is not that much on memories but on enjoying every small moment and feeling gratitude for the little things that make one’s life worth living. This is the understanding the protagonist acquires ESTONIAN FILM



Eugen Scissors in Hand Eugen Tamberg is a highly professional and well-renowned costume designer, active in both film and theatre, in Estonia and internationally. Accolades confirm that: he won the Finnish national film award Jussi and the Estonian national film award EFTA in one week. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Viktor Koshkin

nd as Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn is giving out the best production design award for the first time this year, Tamberg has the honour of being in the jury on the festival’s Anniversary this November. First, congratulations again on your two big awards. Let’s first talk about the films which led to them. Two period pieces, the



very specific biographical Tove, directed by one of Finland’s top directors, Zaida Bergroth; and Peeter Simm’s On the Water – a period film about a little Estonian village in the 1980s with a lot of ruckus and boozing. Please describe the creative process behind both films, and the co-operation with the directors and the team.

The making of On the Water started much earlier than Tove, as we had to chronicle the passing of time, both in nature and in the de-

velopment of the young characters. The youngsters grew up in front of our team’s eyes! Estonian nature, with its four seasons, offers a visual narrative in addition to a dramaturgical one. So, the right location for the exteriors (and there were many) was crucial. We found an ideal spot in Võõpsu – a former trade village on the coast of Lake Peipus, in North-East Estonia. I still had my own memories of the Eighties. This location sparked the creative energy of Peeter Simm, infecting the actors too, and

soon the quiet yards and streets were filled with passion and turmoil. We just had to catch it. Zaida Bergroth’s Tove required a different sort of fine tuning. We had a Nordic international, predominantly female creative team that valued frequent and steady collaboration between different departments. We discussed the essence of every scene, its fragrance and colour scheme. This gave a lot of inspiration for creating costumes. The period in Tove Jansson’s life that is depicted in

the film was exceptionally rich for her as an artist, but also as a woman. It was an interesting and challenging task to capture her different moods in the costumes. The work process was based on trust, and that can be seen on screen. Your internationally acclaimed works tend to be period pieces. AJ Annila’s The Eternal Road takes us back to the 1930s, Bergroth’s Maria’s Paradise to a similar time, Antti Jokinen’s Helene takes place even earlier.

Eugen Tamberg has studied graphics in the Estonian National Art Institute and worked in TV as an art director. Now he is focused on film and theatre, working both as production designer and costume designer.

Do you have a special interest in historical films, or it’s a lucky coincidence that you chanced upon several in a row?

Kind of both. Once you embark upon an historical path as a costume designer, and you manage to find your way, more and more opportunities arise. This heightens personal interest in return – to explore and discover the visual icons of different time periods, try to unravel them, and find the necessary details to use in my work. Every period has its canon. The ESTONIAN FILM


TALENT TAMBERG’S SIGNIFICANT WORKS FROM THE LAST FEW YEARS: 2020 On the Water (directed by Peeter Simm) – production designer 2020 Tove (directed by Zaida Bergroth) – costume designer 2020 Helene (directed by Antti Jokinen) - costume designer 2019 Maria’s Paradise (directed by Zaida Bergroth) – costume designer 2018 Mihkel (directed by Ari Alexander Magnusson) – production designer 2017 The Eternal Road (directed by Antti-Jussi Annila) costume designer 2017 End of the Chain (directed by Priit Pääsuke) – production designer, costume designer

main challenge of The Eternal Road was the simple folk of the 1930s – a mix of Karelian, Finnish, Russian people, and American immigrants. In Maria’s Paradise, the key to the costume design approach was the use of new colours that hadn’t been used in the history of costumes before. In Helene, I concentrated especially on the silhouettes of the time that would help to bring tension to the content of the scenes. Clothes have always been worn. A costume designer has to translate or interpret them as costumes. And it’s exceptionally great to participate in the creation of the character with the actor. I know you are also very busy today, as you are in the middle of another project. What is it?

We are currently making a TV crime series called A Good Family, in collaboration with the Finns, directed by Pete Riski. Unlike my last

FROM THE TOP: Tove, End of the Chain, Maria’s Paradise and On the Water.

jobs, this film is contemporary, but the creation of the costume dramaturgy is just as demanding and complicated. Perhaps even more demanding, because we all have a sense of now differently, as we are living it. The general image hasn’t crystallized yet, that will only emerge when there is some temporal distance to work with. On some films, you have also contributed as a production designer. Which one do you prefer: only costumes or the broader process of art direction – creating the whole film universe?

It is definitely more intriguing to create the whole illusory world, but it is hard to pull off alone, because there’s an abundance of work in every department as it is. Time is limited. While you can manage to create both scenography and costumes in the theatre, working on a film is much more intense. In the end, I am an artist anyway, in the broader sense of the word. The art-



“In the end, I am an artist anyway, in the broader sense of the word,” says Eugen Tamberg about his work.

ist’s mental work process is always similar and needs full dedication, regardless of the format. How did you find your way to the cinema? You studied graphics at first, and then moved to television, you have also dabbled in fashion…

For me, it doesn’t look so winding. My journey is connected to everything I have been doing for

the past 20 years. My experience is what has brought me to this point where I am today. Which one of your works do you like the most?

Medeia for Vanemuine theatre in Tartu. And the movie Helene. What are our plans for the future, and next projects?

I have been offered several histor-

ical films from different periods from history. My next theatre premiere is in April 2022. It is a psychologically charged two-­ person drama called Blackbird, by David Harrower. And I also have been invited to be part of the jury at the Black Nights Film Festival, because they plan to give out the Best Production Design award for the first time ever this year. EF

COSTUME DESIGNER AND ARTIST EUGEN TAMBERG was born in 1954 in Tallinn. He studied graphics in the Estonian National Art Institute ERKI in 1978– 1984, and studied art direction in Ostankino, Moscow, in 1986. He worked as a production designer in Estonian Television from 1984–1987, and as head designer in 1988–1990. Since 2000, he has worked as a freelance artist. In 2021, he received the Finnish national film award Jussi for best costume design for Tove, and the Estonian national film award EFTA for best production design for On the Water. ESTONIAN FILM



The happy team of The Last Ones. The film won four awards altogether.

Simply the Best For the fifth time, the Estonian Film and Television Awards were given out on September 17, 2021. In total, 30 EFTA awards were given, including 15 in the field of film, and 15 in the field of television.

The special prize of Best Achievement in Film Making was given to make-up artist Kaire Hendrikson.

By EFI Photos by Erlend Štaub

T Mari Lill won the Best Actress award for her fantastic work in Rasmus Merivoo’s dark comedy Kratt. Best Animation Film award went to The Stork directed by Morten Tšinakov and Lucija Mrzljak



The award ceremony was initially planned to take place in spring 2021, but due to the COVID-19 related restrictions it was postponed already for the second year to September 2021. Best Feature Film award went to The Last Ones directed by Veiko Õunpuu – a drama spiced with dark humour, produced in collaboration with Estonia, Finland, and the Netherlands. The main production company of the film is Homeless Bob Production, producer Katrin Kissa. Veiko Õunpuu also received Best Director’s award for the same film.

Best Documentary award went to A Loss of Something Ever Felt directed by Carlos E. Lesmes, produced by Alasti Kino, producer Liis Nimik. Best Actress award went to Estonian theatre legend Mari Lill for her grandmother’s role in the black family comedy Kratt, directed by Rasmus Merivoo. Best Actor award was given to Finnish film star Tommi Korpela for his powerful work in Veiko Õunpuu’s The Last Ones. Best Animation Film award went to The Stork directed by Morten Tšinakov and Lucija Mrzljak, produced in Eesti Joonisfilm Studio. Best Short Film award was given to Ülo Pikkov’s emotional experimental film The Tortoise and

The CEO of Estonian Film Instutute, Edith Sepp, handing the award for the Best Short Film to Ülo Pikkov.

the Hare. Best Screenwriter award went to Lauri Randla for his debut film Goodbye Soviet Union that Randla also directed. The film was produced by Exitfilm in collaboration with Bufo, Finland. The jury gave Best Cinematographer award to Sten-Johan Lill for his excellent camerawork in Veiko Õunpuu’s The Last Ones. Best Editing award went to Hendrik Mägar for his masterful work in the documentary A Loss of Something Ever Felt. Best Sound Director award was won by the team consisting of Külli Tüli,

Fred Jüssi, Henri Kuus, and Horret Kuus for their work in documentary Fred Jüssi. The Beauty of Being, produced by Taska Film and directed by Jaan Tootsen. Best Film Composer award went to Timo Steiner for his work on the documentary Ülo Sooster. The Man who Dried a Towel in the Wind, produced by Baltic Film Production and directed by Lilija Vjugina. Best Production Design award was given to Eugen Tamberg for the film On the Water, produced by Filmivabrik and directed by Peeter Simm. Best Costume Design award went to Liis Plato for her work in the film Rain, produced by Alasti Kino and directed by Janno Jürgens. The special prize of Best Achievement in Film Making was also given out this year – to the beloved make-up artist Kaire Hendrikson for her extremely masterful work in various film projects. Lauri Lippmaa, chairman of the film jury of EFTA 2021 and member of the Estonian Screenwriters’ Guild, says that it has been extremely difficult to select the winners among this year’s nominees. Lippmaa states: “The jury was completely unanimous only in one category, namely Best Editor, where Hendrik Mägar excelled. He edited A Loss of Something Ever Felt, and succeeded in conveying the emotional core of stories that touch people’s hearts.” He

The Best Screenwriter award went to Lauri Randla for his film Goodbye Soviet Union (on the left). Timo Steiner won the Film Composer award for his work on the documentary Ülo Sooster. The Man who Dried a Towel in the Wind.

The award gala ended with happy notes the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, gave out the award for the Best Feature.

also adds: “The prevailing majority of jury votes also proved that the Best Feature award should go to The Last Ones, the collaboration film between Estonia, Finland, and the Netherlands. The cameraman of the film, Sten-Johan Lill, depicted the Nordic darkness really well, so he received the Best Cinematographer award. And without doubt, the charismatic core of the film is built by Finnish actor Tommi Korpela who gave a suggestive and largely improvisational performance in The Last Ones, and was given Best Actor award for his role.” The chairman of the film jury acknowledged all the filmmakers for their contribution during the difficult era of the pandemic – in every way, professionals in the field of film have managed to produce several very successful films. EF

Best Documentary award went to A Loss of Something Ever Felt directed by Carlos E. Lesmes (on the right), produced by Liis Nimik (on the left).






Year Kissa The

At the end of August, the shooting of Invisible Fight (the new film from November’s director Rainer Sarnet) started for Katrin Kissa. In September, Captain Volkonogov Escaped, a RussianEstonian-French co-production (with Kissa as Estonian partner) premiered in Venice Film Festival’s Main Competition. It was the first time ever for an Estonian production to be a contender for a Golden Lion. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Iris Kivisalu First published in Eesti Ekspress



several generations, because the fear that is being passed on is like a lurking virus. The authors of the film are in their forties and should be the last generation to remember the system that spawned this terror, but suddenly we are in this situation again where expressing your own opinion has become dangerous. And not only in Russia. In the presence of danger, you learn to live inconspicuously. You are willingly erasing your own identity and hiding in the grey masses. In that sense Captain Volkonogov Escaped is very much charged. Merkulova and Chupov are not discreet in any manner, and do not hide their opinions about the Putin regime. It’s a full-on personal revolution. Heads are raised and eyes are gazing beyond the fear. The film’s premise and aftermath are perhaps political, but the film itself – besides the story that is built up like a thriller – is philosophical, and speaks about something more abstract. In general, it is about becoming aware of oneself and about personal responsibility. The birth of a man. How did you manage to get financial support from the Russian Ministry of Culture? Did you have to give a different impression of the project in the paperwork?

Well, that was a small miracle indeed. I didn’t believe it to be possible as the authors did not conceal their plans from the beginning. They attracted Russian private funding, later, Estonian support and Eurimages funding, then France, and quite unexpectedly, also the Russian state money.


irst, I would like to inquire about Captain Volkonogov Escaped that you co-produced. Could you tell us a little about that film that is now a big hit at international film festivals?

The film takes place in 1938 when NKVD officers, orchestrating repressions, began to arrest and shoot their own overnight. Events take place in a city that is reminiscent of Leningrad during the Great Terror, when over a million people



You just finished the first shooting period of Rainer Sarnet’s Invisible Fight. What has been the biggest challenge with this film so far?

were executed, and just as many arrested. It’s not a historical film. Based on true events from the past, it is a vision of the future. Or even of the present days. It’s a relatively charged story politically, the directors Natasha Merkulova and Alexei Chupov are socially critical in their works.

Terror committed anywhere, regardless of the state or the time period, imprisons whole generations, extending much further than the time of repression, over

This film looks like madness from any angle. The fact that Sarnet’s idea is crazy and original is great, but the rest of the Invisible Fight is a challenge of its own. There is a remarkable amount of co-producing countries involved – Greece, Latvia, Finland and Japan, besides Estonia. Estonian private money has been engaged. Estonian state funds have supported the film in maximum capacity, but it makes up only 35% of the budget, meaning that the rest of the money had to come from elsewhere, and collecting

Photo by Gabriela Urm


Invisible Fight

Captain Volkonogov Escaped

INVISIBLE FIGHT l Is a kung-fu comedy taking place in an Orthodox church in the 1970s Soviet Union. The main character Rafael is a deadbeat car mechanic who wants to become a monk, and who is, to everyone’s surprise, led by the powerful force of prayer. l Is written and directed by Rainer Sarnet. l The shooting period started in Sep­ tember 2021 and lasts until spring 2022. The film will be ready in 2023 l The main parts are played by Ursel Tilk, Ester Kuntu, Kaarel Pogga, Maria Avdjuško, Indrek Sammul, Mari Abel, Tiina Tauraite, etc l It is produced by Katrin Kissa, and has Mart Taniel as cinematographer, Jaagup Roomet as art director, Jussi Rauaniemi as editor, Janne Laine as sound designer, Jaanus Vahtra and Berta Vilipsone as costume designers. CAPTAIN VOLKONOGOV ESCAPED l Tells the story of NKVD captain Feodor Volkonogov (Yuri Borisov), who is declared an enemy of the state. He will become an outlaw. It emerges that if the captain regrets his actions and finds at least one of his victims ready to forgive him, he will escape eternal hell. l Is directed by Natasha Merkulova and Aleksei Chupov, cinematographer and co-writer is Mart Taniel from Estonia. l It premiered in September 2021 in the Venice Main Competition. l Estonian crew members are co-producer Katrin Kissa, gaffer Taivo Tenso, sound designer Matis Rei, special effects team from Tallinn Postworks, and graphic designer Margus Tamm.

Invisible Fight is like an explosion. A mix of such components that it is still unknown how they will react together. that has required executing quite complicated schemes. While financing this film, it has been the most difficult aspect – it is almost unbearable to admit to oneself that even in case of quite considerable financial support, we still have to take big risks and, unfortunately, make inevitable cuts. Considering our state funding capability, population, and co-production terms, the current budget of 2,7 million euro is close to the limit of my abilities of what I can raise for that type of slightly edgier film. I have to admit that this number enables a lot, but is still not sufficient for true artistic freedom when it comes to a slightly more ambitious project. This has made me think about the possibilities and the future of filmmaking in general, with our limited conditions here.

more likely to encompass one of the important goals of cinema – meeting with the audience – and that will more likely engage finances, either through recouping investment, or profit. My personal problem with this is that films clearly intended for commercial success are often made with a lazy mind and quite often without the proper quality control. Maybe because they are clearly intended for the domestic market, where it is easy to fool the audience with certain well-worn tricks. This kind of activity is degrading, in my opinion.

What do you mean?

I had a choice: either to ask for as much as I needed and start shooting, risking daunting the board, or try and sneak through with a more modest sum. But then again, if this support was the key to the shoot, then we needed to go all in. Invisible Fight, with the tendencies and trends of European cinema today, is so glaringly original that there is no sneaking in with that one. Invisible Fight is like an explosion. A mix of such components that it is still unknown how they will react together. It is driven by pop-art, iconography, the Seventies, kung-fu and exploitation cinema. Hopefully it will turn out to be the best entertainment possible. EF

A question has arisen, what kind of movies to make. What’s the goal of this activity? Do we strive for creating interesting landscapes in our own cultural and linguistic landscape; creating values that cement our main objective to exist as a sovereign nation? Or should our approach be more pragmatic – cinema is entertainment, to be valued by the parameters of the market, where the fight is over people’s leisure time, attention, and money. There is a choice, to position yourself in the restrictive space of the Estonian market, or set your sights on the international market. Commercial categories are alluring, because they are

For Invisible Fight, you managed to get the largest ever Eurimages support for an Estonian film – 360,000 euro. Do you have any idea what convinced the committee? Especially with such a competitive round this year.




Mari Kivi

The opening of Animist. Priit Tender with Morten Tchinakov and Lucija Mrzljak, the directors of The Stork.



Animist Tallinn kicked off for the first time in August 2021. The new animation festival focuses exclusively on animated films while also aiming at involving different cultural fields. This year, the focus was on anthropology. Festival director Mari Kivi and artistic director Priit Tender share their ideas about the first festival and the future. By Aurelia Aasa Photos by Anastasia Evanovich, Paavo Kuldkepp, Ida Lepparu

The first Animist festival took place in Tallinn in August 8–21, 2021. Could you summarize the experience? Priit: It’s been a lot of work to start a fes-

tival from scratch – you have to create something from seemingly nothing. It somehow feels like calling a certain kind of living being into existence. Such an experience is a most impressive thing. Mari: We could decide ourselves in which direction to move with the festival. I believe that we had never worked so hard



before in our lives – but meeting happy guests and foreign visitors gives lots of energy. What is the most complicated aspect related to organizing of a small festival? Is it the financial side or reaching the audience? Mari: The most complicated thing is

to manage with limited finances. Priit: For a festival it is essential to reach the audience. It felt powerful that so many filmmakers came to the event. Peo-

Priit Tender

Holding a festival is largely a project of mission. What is your mission? Priit: A certain gap has to be filled in or-

Q & A with the authors.

ple have not traveled due to the pandemic, and many guests visited Tallinn for the first time. Mari: If the festival had taken place in a pre-COVID situation, most people would have planned their festival schedule according to the big festivals. Today, the big festivals have moved into a virtual space or are taking place with restrictions. People came to Tallinn as they wanted to be somewhere physically. Some of them had not traveled for two years. Those who came to the festival felt really happy and liberated. Priit: Estonia as a destination country is important as well. If we were some random animation country, then perhaps people would not come here. Both the past and present of Estonian animation holds great significance.

The jury Gerben Schermer, Sander Joon and Ruth Lingford - at the ending ceremony.

der for animation, as a field of art, to stay alive. I feel a responsibility for Estonian animation culture, that seemed to be half-functional without a festival, and during the past few years the lack of an animation festival became an especially topical subject. Mari: The festival adds so much to Estonia as a well-known animation country. When I visited other festivals, I thought that while we have the production capacity, we still have no festival. The festival also brings local animation production to Estonian audiences. What is the current state in the field of animation in Estonia? Priit: It is certainly interesting and di-

verse. There are both old animation studios as well as newcomers. This is a living environment. There are countries where the field of animation lacks both activity and the community. In Estonia, there are filmmakers of various generations. There is a lot of animated content everywhere from Tiktok and Instagram to the field of advertisement. The skill of watching more demanding short animations seems to be disappearing. Mari: It is not easy to reach the audience,

but I believe that without the festival it is mission impossible. While composing our programmes, we aimed at focusing on wider audiences – new Estonian animation was included and there were special programmes for children. Priit: The festival is an important ground for promoting this field of art, to achieve a connection with children and the youth. When animation is brought to the right people, it can involve huge discoveries. The focus of the festival was on anthropology, bringing several representatives of the field to animation. For those crossing beyond their main field of activity, seeing animation films and meeting the filmmakers is a new world full of surprises.

What does short animation as a form of art offer? Priit: In my opinion, short formats have

many possibilities thanks to online platforms and VOD. It may not be most popular in cinema, but I see the potential online. And at the same time it depends on



Anthropologist Carlo Cubero (on the left) and director Andrey Paounov at the screening of Walking on Water.

the narration and how it will touch the audience. This is where the show takes off. Mari: I have the feeling that social media promotes short films better than feature films, but I guess everything cannot be sold after all. Lots of people find their way to animation through other fields, such as comic books or illustrations. This year, the focus of the festival was on anthropology. Will the collaboration with other forms of art and culture continue? Priit: We really wish to find an intersec-

tion with some other field every year. That would also be one of the aspects why Animist Festival would differ from other similar festivals. One of the purposes of our festival is to bring together various professionals, resulting in new collaborations and the initiation of new projects. This is an important part of the festival – to be a meeting point where people physically meet and start creating ideas. Mari: The aim of the sub-theme would be much more than a symbolic act or a specific programme – we would like representatives of the field to come as well to hold workshops. You collaborate with the Estonian Academy of Arts where there is also a department of animation. Is Animist also an academic festival? Priit: The academy is certainly a great

partner and a part of the identity of the festival. The academic world also yearns for contact with the real world. The Estonian Academy of Arts wants people from the outside world to visit their building. Where do you position yourself in the field of animation festivals? Priit: I guess we are currently in the de-

velopment phase. If a festival has taken



place only once, it is too early to decide where the journey will go. Mari: In my opinion, it is important to hold the type of event where I would wish to be a guest. I like to enjoy the process of working with the festival, and not to feel enslaved by it. Priit: In the future there will be the possibility to collaborate with the animation industry, but our aim is not to go down the commercial road. Not every festival has to be multi-functional. If you are not the biggest animation festival in the world then you have an opportunity to choose your own unique profile. There are not that many independent stand-alone festivals in the Baltic countries, most of the festivals are part of larger festival programmes. Also, there are not that many festivals in Scandinavia. We have the niche in a regional sense, and this is a good foundation for the festival to develop. Why does animation need a separate festival? Priit: We relate more to art than to film.

Animation seems to be a film genre, but at the same time it is also a form of art. It is somewhere in between. Animation

If you are not the biggest animation festival in the world then you have an opportunity to choose your own unique profile. should not be in a film festival. It should be in an animation festival. There are people who are capable of navigating in both fields, but the reality is that once you are an animation filmmaker you will probably spend your time among other animation filmmakers. It’s great if a film festival’s short film programme includes animation, but without a special animation film festival there is a feeling that something is missing. In the field of animation there are filmmakers of different generations – it is a community. For animation filmmakers, the animation-related events are important – these are the places where contacts, collaborations, and work offers can be found. Animist also has an international programme. What’s trending now? Priit: What a nice, simple, question that

is difficult to answer. As far as I have been involved in programme management, there have been all kinds of themes. COVID-19. Isolation. But these topics do not prevail. Topical films can be made in haste and the results may sometimes turn out not that strong. Great films have universal themes. EF

Festival cocktail at the rooftop of Estonian Academy of Arts.

Photo by Evridiki Papaiakovou

Photo by Andrei Bljahhin


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

Photos by Karl Anders Vaikla

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

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


Old Wise Wolf The

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) finds itself at a special age: twenty five editions have been successfully held. It’s all grown up, accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) as an A-category non-specialised competitive film festival and put up in the same bracket as festivals such as Cannes, Venice and Berlin. PÖFF has even taken up a seat on the board of FIAPF this year. By William Smith Photos by Erlend Štaub and Liis Reiman


Festival Director Tiina Lokk plants the first tree in the PÖFF park



n addition to main and side programmes of feature films, the festival has grown over the years to also encompass Just Film (focused on childrens and youth films) and PÖFF Shorts, whose winners can now qualify for the Baftas, EFA awards and Oscars. Estonia’s East is served by sub-festival KINOFF and genre fans can visit the seaside Haapsalu Horror And Fantasy Film Festival each spring. PÖFF’s First Features competition is a powerful springboard for new directors and its Official Competition attracts an increasingly strong lineup of global author films, both stacked with world premieres. That’s not to mention the ris-

ing profile of the experimental, edgy Rebels with a Cause and the very best place to discover what our region has to offer in PÖFF’s Baltic Competition. The festival will feature Hungary as its main focus country in 2021, with programmes of both recent films and archive classics from the Central European state. The lineup will also include smaller sections of German, Russian and British features. The full programme also includes Current Waves, Midnight Shivers, Doc@PÖFF, #PÖFFtrending, Screen International Critics’ Choice, the Environmental Agency’s Film Programme, the Estonian Olympic Committee Film Programme and screenings of the European Film Academy’s Discovery Award nominees. The eternally young-at-heart Festival Director Tiina Lokk comments, “PÖFF has become something we could have not imagined in the early days. We have developed into a truly international festival, giving a spotlight to hundreds and thousands of great films from old and new authors over these 25 years.” Regarding PÖFF birthday plans, she added: “There’s something important to celebrate this year and we will certainly have some parties to toast our success,

but we will always be looking to the future: discovering talent, nurturing it and finding new ways to get more people involved in the world of cinema. Usually the birthday kid is getting gifts, but we will break with tradition and the festival will give a present to our home city: a PÖFF Park, with trees planted in honour of filmmakers and PÖFF friends in Estonia and all over the world.” Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event, the industry summit hosted during PÖFF, has become one of the busiest meeting places for film professionals in Northern Europe. It’s 2020 online-only

film industry and Black Nights has adapted its platforms to support filmmakers in the best ways possible, with a view to continuing for another 25 years ahead. In the digital realm, the festival’s web cinema will continue to offer quality films to Estonian viewers around the year and the PÖFF Film School, in partnership with the European Film Factory, will continue to help Estonia’s kids and young people learn about cinema in school. In more down to earth terms, Black Nights will make concrete steps to improve its environmental impact and the natural environment the wolfpack calls

sert. The electronic opera featuring actor-singers, virtual opera soloists, live electronics and robots, is a fantasy version of the last film made by Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky. It will be performed for the first time in Estonia, on November 24, near where Taskovsky shot his 1979 masterpiece Stalker and then on November 25 in Tartu. In a year where hopefully many things go back to normal, the festival organisers have enlisted the help of various innovative Estonian products to ensure the health and safety of an event which prides itself on bringing people

PÖFF has become something we could have not imagined in the early days. We have developed into a truly international festival.

Memories of past PÖFFs: the 20th and 15th birthday celebrations

edition brought a whole new audience of international decision makers and talent in contact with its many programmes. This year, the event will continue in a hybrid format and will see the launch of a new Discovery Campus brand for film talent in partnership with the European Film Academy. Turn over for more information about everything planned there. THE YOUNG WILD WOLF

PÖFF may be a member of the A-category club, but it’s also the youngest member, without any of the baggage and stuffy formality. Like the young country it calls home, the festival prides itself on its openness to change, sustainable development and digital transformation. The challenges of 2020 and the COVID-pandemic have affected every corner of the

home. Together with key partner, the City of Tallinn, PÖFF has planted the very first tree in what will come to be the PÖFF park. Located in North Tallinn, around the grounds of the soon-tobe Tallinn Film Wonderland studio complex, Black Nights will take care of the landscape design of this new creative quarter. Trees planted will be dedicated to festival winners, filmmakers and friends of the festival. A PÖFF Green Wolf Foundation will continue to support the park’s development, improving Tallinn’s green spaces and sustainably managing our local forests, with guests given the option to donate a birthday gift to the festival. The festival will also celebrate its connection to the city and its history by welcoming the opera “Tarkovsky - The Eighth Film”, produced by Eesti Kont-

together in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Respiray’s personal air purifiers will be issued to public-facing PÖFF staff, med-tech startup Certific will provide at-home COVID testing and BioBlock nasal sprays will be available at a discounted price for ticket holders. Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event’s conferences and networking events will be hosted at Estonia’s most COVID-safe hotel, the Nordic Hotel Forum. With these new provisions in place, the festival team is confident that celebrating PÖFF’s birthday with international filmmakers, industry professionals and press, as well as the many tens of thousands of locals who are part of the festival each year, can go ahead as planned and the dark days of November in Estonia will once again be lit up by sparkling cinema. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Industry event looks into new tecnologies.VR workshop 2019

Promising Film Projects and New Knowledge In 2021, when the Black Nights Film Festival celebrates its 25th birthday, Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event (I@T&BE) has its own notable anniversary. Within the two decades the summit has established a position as the busiest business platform and trade fair in Northern Europe for audiovisual industry professionals. By Egle Loor Photos by Janis Kokk, Aron Urb and Lilli Tölp


fter establishing Estonian Film Foundation’s new financing schemes in 2001, Estonian film started to revive. Projects interesting for international co-production and distribution appeared, and the time was ready for organising the first Baltic Event,” says Riina Sildos, founder of the event, when explaining the reasons for setting up the business platform. “In 2002, it was a showcase of Baltic projects as works in progress with 30 invited international guests. As we saw big interest for films from the region, the event gradually grew into what we see today the biggest co-production market,” she adds.



Due to the results of the global health crisis, I@T&BE 2020 took place virtually last year, with over 900 guests. The 20th edition, taking place in 19-26 November 2021 is eager to welcome accredited guests again in pre-Christmas Tallinn. Marge Liiske, the head of Industry@ Tallinn & Baltic Event comments that even though 20 years has given a lot of experiences and the summit has established a notable position in the market, it is crucial for everyone in the field to up their game. “The development pace in film industry does not allow anyone to take a rest as new technologies and the overall market situation push the field to come up with fresh and exciting approaches.” The whole world has taken an active

position towards sustainability and greenturn and as any other major social change, it has a significant impact on the film industry. “During the summit we’ll take a look at recent technologies, virtual and green production, sustainability and discuss how to implement those principles in creating magical films.” She adds that sustainability should not be considered only in production-phase, but it should be kept in mind already when creating the scena­ rio. Sustainability and a look to the film industry’s future are the threads that join together the programme of this years’ summit – and it is also reflected in the organisation of the event - for accredited guests most of the programme is also available online at

Co-production market meetings 2019.

As in the last 20 years, I@T&BE 2021 continues to be a good place for business.

Industry Award ceremony from 2020 taken place online.


As in the last 20 years, I@T&BE 2021 continues to be a good place for business. Liiske says that it is very exciting to greet and meet film professionals psychically in the capital of Estonia. “Doing business eye to eye is something that we have all missed and hopefully the meetings and chats in Nordic Hotel Forum will be starting points for many new fruitful corporations and initiatives.” The focus country of this year’s event is the United Kingdom. Collaboration with the British Film Institute will bring British projects to participate in industry programmes and a delegation of UK producers looking to network. In addition there are presentations and panel discussions

featuring British speakers and exciting side programme of UK films as part of the 25th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. As the series market is continuously trending I@T&BE 2021 launches a TV Beats co-financing market for drama series, representing projects with international sales and distribution potential to financiers. The guests are welcome to take part in market activities and one-toone meetings for other project categories as well: Baltic Event co-production market, Works in Progress presentations, Script Pool Tallinn, European Genre Film Forum and MIDPOINT TV Launch. BRUSH UP THE KNOWLEDGE

In addition to doing business, I@T&BE 2021 is a place to brush up the knowledge. One of the highlights is the high-level European Film Forum Tallinn, organised in collaboration with the European Commission. The forum focuses on innovation and on the future of European film presenting recognised experts on topics such as virtual production, implementing new technologies, education and innovative leadership. During the summit Industry@Tallinn

& Baltic Event introduces a unique education programme Black Nights Discovery Campus created in partnership with the European Film Academy for film professionals and emerging talents such as composers, sound designers, music editors; production designers, cinematographers, art and set designers, and others. In addition to live events carried out in Tallinn by award-winning film professionals, available also online, the programme will consist of online courses by well-known mentors throughout the year. Music Meets Film, primarily intended for film scoring composers and filmmakers searching for hidden layers within music in film, marks its 10th anniversary this year. The programme takes a closer look at the musical perspective of meaning and symbolism in film, and welcomes director and producer Mike Newell, documentary filmmaker Andrey A. Tarkovsky, director Nina Degraeve amongst many other distinguished speakers. Black Nights Stars, a programme for emerging actors, welcomes eight talents from the shores of the Baltic Sea and offers them knowledge and connections for establishing an international career. Black Room, targeted to production designers, introduces distinguished Nordic production designers Sabine Hviid and Christian Olander. Future to Film targeted to emerging scriptwriters, directors and producers has devided the programme to Script Pool project competition and Discovery Showcase – a initiative set up with the European Film Academy and FIPRESCI to highlight the six directors nominated for the European Discovery 2021. The highlight of the programme is “Meet the Director” – an inspirational masterclass with Baltasar Kormákur. The Discovery Campus program is supported by the European Regional Development Fund via the Creative Gate project. For those looking for knowledge and opportunities in the drama series business, the programme includes lectures and workshops from TV Beats Forum, a two-day meeting point where the leaders of the field discuss relevant trends and topics related to drama series production, European Genre Forum, EmPOWR Sustainable Stories Lab plus various roundtables, case studies and presentations on hot topics in the film industry. Check out the programme and tune in: EF ESTONIAN FILM



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

ESTONIAN FILM INSTITUTE PROGRAMMES FOR FILM PRODUCTION MAJORITY CO-PRODUCTION • Financing for an Estonian co-produ­ cer the maximum subsidy is € 800,000 • Subsidy of up to 70% of the budget • 50% of the subsidy must be spent in Estonia • Two application deadlines: April 27 and November 30, 2021 MINORITY CO-PRODUCTION Budget 2021: € 600,000 • For producers from all over the world. Participation of an Estonian co-producer is necessary. Bilateral treaty not necessary • Maximum subsidy for an Estonian co-producer: feature film and feature animation € 200,000; documentary € 60,000 • Subsidy of up to 70% of the Estonian part of the budget • 100% of the subsidy must be spent in Estonia • Estonian creative and production related participation in a project should meet the requirements of minority co-production grading table • Two application deadlines: January 12 and September 14, 2021 • Decision in 40 days



FILM ESTONIA CASH REBATE Film Estonia cash rebate is a production incentive supporting the incoming production of feature films, feature documentaries, animation films, animation series, high-end TV-drama and the post-production of all previously mentioned works. An application can be made for international production service or co-production to receive a cash rebate up to 30% on eligible production costs. • Support intensity - 20%-30% of eligible costs • Deadlines - open call • Applicant - company registered in Estonia • Recipient - foreign company • Decision – in 30 days • Auditing and payment – in 40 days The scheme is open for: • feature films with a budget of at least € 1 million; minimum local spend € 200,000

• feature documentary with a budget of at least € 200,000; minimum local spend € 70,000 • animation with a budget of at least € 250,000; minimum local spend € 70,000 • animation series with a budget of at least € 500,000; minimum local spend € 70,000 per series • high-end TV-drama with a budget of at least € 200,000 per single episode; minimum local spend € 70,000 per series • post-production; minimum local spend € 30,000 Recently supported films include: Tenet (GB/ US), Memory of Water (FI), The Burial (GB), Kill the Child (US), Besa 2 (RS) CONTACT: Nele Paves, Film Commissioner

Photo by Renee Altrov

The Burial

Shooting of Memory of Water

Shooting of Omerta 6/12

Photo by Armands Virbulis

Photo by Antti Rastivo


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

• •

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

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




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

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

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

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

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




Dark, Lovable and Extremely Funny This is my second encounter with kratt, the titular creature of Rasmus Merivoo’s latest film, and boy, it’s damn good on its own terms.


t is radically different from Rainer Sarnet’s dark mysticism in November (2017) for the obvious reason that the two films can’t be compared at all, with their only common denominator being a kratt (and how it’s brought to life), and pretty much everything else put in a dissimilar narrative context. With Kratt, we have a wicked



Kratt is a dark fantasy comedy, suitable for adults, but also kids over 12.

kids movie with f-words, ‘penis helicopters’ and teenage unpolished give-me-a-break attitude that evokes memories of some classics from the 1990s. Think of Richard Donner’s The Goonies, shave off the Hollywood splashy antics and its lavish production, and embrace the Estonian bonkers mythology coming to life in Merivoo’s dark fantasy comedy under the impecable craftmanship of the art department and special effects by Anton Markovskiy. The film is queer as a three dollar bill, and packed with the humor so dry that it could turn the sand of Gobi desert into crisp. Its audience will probably be a

Kratt By Marina Richter First published in Sirp

mixture of progresssively raised kids who don’t faint at the mention of prophanities and adults who got bored of watching the same old über-polished staff in the cinema with their offspring. This is a family watch that won’t bore anyone to death. No singing princesses, no shooting (although we could turn petty here and say – hey, I saw guns!), no love story of sorts, just a possessed relative and a bit of bloodbath you don’t see really happening although it is happening. It will tease your socks off as a youngster and ridicule you as an adult, taking a portion of your self-importance away. Merivoo obviously had a blast, after all he made an excellent summer family project. I can almost hear him going: “Hey kids, any plans for the months to come? No? How about acting in daddy’s movie in which I let you eat as many pancakes as you can while commanding a devil’s helper around?” Is there a kid out there saying no to that? I mean, a huge chunk of devilry most of us commited as kids during summer holidays was per-

formed according to a low budget scenario, to a much lesser entertainment result. Frankly, pretty much aware of the price it involves, it would come handy to have a creature ready to meet one’s every demand. Sod the chores, deadlines, cleaning, washing, changing the nappies, doing the shopping, or cooking. The unholy could even take over a daily task of calling your mother, answering some bullshit questionaries by phonecall centers, or for instance, replying to all those mails by people who want something from you ASAP, but for free, of course, because it is simply ‘your honor’ to take on just another pile

of work that nobody will even thank you for. Tracking down the spammers and smiting them would be another fun task I can think of. All you would need is a manual with the pentagram on it, a bit of talent for crafts, and the cooler-than-life teenage attitude that there is nothing beyond repair. Which is exactly what Mia (Nora Merivoo) and Kevin (Harri Meri­voo), the main protagonists of Kratt have in overflow. UNDERTONES AND CONTRASTS

There is a thick layer of intentions in Merivoo’s film, and the curious thing is that they don’t stand in the way of each other. From the beginning on, the viewer is met with the irresistible clash of moods and undertones. As the opening credits roll in, we land in a dramatic scene set up in 1895 to the tunes of piano solo of the type that was played live in the times of silent cinema. Not black and white and not silent at all, it’s a fitting and irresistibly slapsticky instigation of the story that continues 120 years later, introducing Little Count (Alo Kurvits) in all his underwordly glory. MUSIC AND SATIRE

Music (the composer of the film is Tauno Aints) is by the way the secret star of the movie. The film even casts the choir of Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications as activists ABOVE: The choir of Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications as activists who are trying to save the ancestral forest. BELOW: Jan Uuspõld as the local pastor, trying to help the kids with his drone.




who are trying to save the ancestral forest from being harvested in a funny subplot that, just like the main narrative, shoots up tiny arrows in direction first world problems. The activists are called “green terrorists” and “snowflakes with no respect for authority” by the village’s governor (Ivo Uukkivi), and the joke is literally on everyone, also on stubborn denialists of the impact the progressive cutting of trees brings. No position is sacred, and no one is spared of being laughed at. All the way there is a sense of what is right or wrong, but charmingly unbothered about delivering didactic messages. Take what you want from it, preferably a better taste for the offbeat music, and a good laugh. DOWN IN THE FARM

The story is set up in the Estonian countryside, in a village that battles its own inner battles between the corrupted/ greedy politicans and local populace which is also divided by their own interests. The fists are clenched, the ghost of the fight out. And the paradisic setting hides a secret or two, among other things a certain book (the Count’s missing journal-the dude who was dodoed at the beginning of the film) guarding the ancient knowledge about how to build a kratt that no one is really aware of before the arrival of syblings Mia and Kevin. Up to then, Kratt was just a



legend passed on verbally from generation to generation, kept in the families as a good-night (or a nightmare) story. The townies don’t have it easy at the beginning, because this isn’t the type of holiday they had in mind. They were, so to speak, tricked to stay with their grandmother on the countryside which doesn’t offer them any kind of modern entertainment including the internet. They have to adapt to grandma Helju’s (Mari Lill) simple life dedicated to chicken, vegetables she grows in the garden, and all other jobs that need to be done around the house. Long before anything really happens, the cinematographer Jako Krull sets for the nocturnal blue hues to creep your heart out. The premonition of something uncunny settling in is present, and it takes time before it developes full power, becoming a concrete thing


The kids and their creation - a Kratt that is finished and ready to work.

The role of the grandmother (pictures 1 and 3) brought Mari Lill the award for the Best Actress in a leading role at the Estonian 2021 Film and Television Awards.

happening. It’s a high-class technical intervention, with Krull’s fine feeling for the moment. Betrayed by their parents (played by Mari-Liis Lill and Ma­rek Tammets) who are actually on their way to a shanty-shanty resort where they are supposed to boost the energy and celebrate a new start (father has finally quit his demanding job), the kids are bored out of their minds and freaked out by things they are supposed to do to help their grandmother. Why work, when you can purchase things in an actual store, they ask. My kid – born and raised on the streets of Vienna would react the same way. Chicken shit stinks, man. SECRET BOOK

I had to think of Milo Ventimglia playing a teen called Jess in Gilmore Girls, who the moment he lands in the incredibly boring small town Star Hollows (Connecticut) to


live with his uncle, looks around and has Elvis Costello’s song “This is Hell” in his ears. Hell, it is. You’ve got to love this unfeigned understanding of the way town kids think, unless they were raised in a kumbaya fake hippy environment of a fancy gentrified city district where they would be scorned for stepping on a daffodil and god forbid, eat a full lactose- or gluten pumped meal, which also becomes a subject of the film of sorts. Mia is a vegetarian, she shouts in her grandma’s face, so she storms out of the kitchen to go searching for the avocado tree in the garden, because – such things just do grow in the country, don’t they? To “Goonify” the film, Merivoo needed the enforcement of sorts to build up a gang of adventure-see­ king children, and there was a brilliant choice made for the cast of twins Juuli (Elise Tekko) and August (Roland Treima), named by the simple fact there were born in different months – separated by tens of minutes between July 31st and August 1st. They are nerdy cats as kids of the main green activist Lembit (Paul Purga), a guy who wears glasses without glasses out of habit long after his sight was corrected by an eye surgery. All of the youngsters have one thing in common – their parents deny them using the modern technology while at the same time being addicted to it themselves. What is else then to do than study a secret book, found accidentaly in the village’s library, even if it was written in German? There is, after all, a tree-hugger ready to lend her


linguistic knowledge to help get the instructions right. IT’S ALIVE!

The mastermind of the project Kratt is Mia, the wizzard of the game which almost goes completely out of control. A bit of stolen blood from the governor, and the determination that everything is easy-peasy, get all other children on board. Unlike most of us dinosaurs, she understands the most important tricks of the trade learned from the internet. Buying a service comes with the description, so – there is no stress about it, even when the shit hits the fan. The grandma becomes a kratt through an unfortunate chain of events, and the game goes well for a bit until it doesn’t anymore. All the while, it will amuse you to no end. She’ll mince a couple of people in the process and walk around in frenzy with a piece of metal stuck to heard head, or pund the bread though stained with blood, but she’ll stay the epithome of family’s unity and unlimited love for the family. And in between, there is another problem the village is turned to: saving the forest. There is a clear influence by Steven Spielberg in encounters between humans and machines, given in the way a simple excavator is introduced at night with dramatic music and blinking lights it turnes into something unearthly and slightly threatening, but never to the point of awakening the real dread. Unlike the undead itself. Don’t try to build a kratt, kiddies, al-

Ink Big! The critics have done their job

Jan Uuspõld (the pastor, picture 2) and Ivo Uukkivi (the village’s governor, picture 4) work both as actors at the presti­ gious Estonian Drama Theatre. Kratt gave them a perfect chance to prove their comedic talent.

though you might recognize their drive should you come from the wrong side of the social system. “Give me work!” sounds almost like cultural workers asking for new projects, and that outcry does come together with a slightly zombified look of someone who’s been feeding for a while on pasta and catchup only. Now, kratts and real life have very little together unless we look into it from its metaphorical side and pinpoint human insatiable need of material goods as a universal inheritance of fables’ wisdom. And, because a demon’s favourite joke is satyrical, he sends someone like Little Duke to deal with earthly trifles and communicate with humans for the benefit of a better contractual deal. There are so many little things you will love about Kratt, including the new-age money-milking resorts advertized practically everywhere, which is where Mia and Kevin’s parents land. You will laugh your heart out observing the ‘purifying methods’ as modern as a spewing bucket can be. Think of The Addams Family children ending up in the summer camp with “Jesus loves you, kumbaya” singing lot, and you’ll recognize the other kind of hell immediately. Also, meeting a pastor (Jan Uuspöld) who was coiffed by the neighbour of the Tiger King’s hairdresser, and who spies upon his flock with a drone, will make your heart go boom. He does, at the end of the day, deliver one of the most uproarious excorcism scenes seen in the contemporary genre movies. EF



REVIEW Young love: Andres (Rasmus Ermel) and Maria (Aurora Aleksandra).


in an 80’s Village Yard Peeter Simm’s On the Water is a heartfelt crowd pleaser, where serious themes are freshly painted with colourful nostalgia.


stonian cinema has been hit by a wave of coming-of-age films. Goodbye, Soviet Union and Rain observed childhood from the balconies of tower block apartments. Kids of the Night gave adulthood a sheen of neon lights. Even Kratt can be described as a coming-of-age story in its own absurd way. In On the Water, a tale of growing up is placed in the middle of a backward 1980s village yard, where alcohol, gossip, and fishing serve as the only available form of entertainment. On the Water, based on Olavi Ruitlane’s novel of the same name, is the 11th full-length feature of Peeter Simm. Counting documen-



Ink Big! The critics have done their job

taries and short films, Simm’s filmography reaches about 40 titles. There are only a few authors in Estonia whose creative career has spanned five decades with such energy. Simm, who stepped in the arena as a director in the end of the 1970s, has accomplished that. During that time, his main topics have largely remained the same. Perhaps due to historical inevitability, Simm has always been drawn to remote villages, problems of the simple folk, and the everyday life in the periphery of Soviet Estonia. Although On the Water’s script has been written by Ruitlane, the film is ingrained with themes that are very characteristic of Simm – especially, life in the Soviet Estonian backwoods. COMPLICATED GROWING ENVIRONMENT

The film revolves around Andres (Rasmus Ermel), who is longing to

join his mother in Sweden, but is forced to live in the small town of Võru, raised by his grandparents’ heavy hand. His grades are down and his classmates are bullies. And first love comes with its own awkward incidents. There are true Eighties moments in the film – shakes grabbed from a milk bar, or detours to the smoky interior of the Soviet teachers’ lounge. But the real life unfolds in a suburban yard, where Andres receives experience, comradeship, and wisdom from his neighbours whose lives have gone awry. He spends his everyday life in noise and poverty, under the watchful eye of the community. The only escape is the lake. Men and fishing – a cliché, if ever there was one. In this film, like in real life, fishing unites the simpletons, booze-ridden villagers, and wealthy gentlemen. In Võru, every half-vital male spends half a day on

the lake, be it midsummer or the dead of winter. In Ruitlane’s novel, fishermen’s tales are spun, pikes, breams, eels, and perches are caught. In the movie, Lake Tamula is a place for contemplation, a blue, meditative oasis, in contrast with the noisiness of the village. In the words of Andres in his early teens: “Life – as soon as you step away from the water, it catches you again”. And why would those backyard people want to be caught by life? Or do they? And what does life mean for them in the first place? YARD COMMUNITY

There is an interesting dissonance in the story. The modest village folk might be described as neglected, by modern standards. People who don’t travel, and perhaps are unable to make it out of the yard. Only to a lake, if at all. There, life carries on in a rhythm of its own and things are explained physically, and in a matter-of-fact manner. These altercations don’t influence the relations of the participants much. Blabbermouths, the meek, and the forceful, form an ensemble that plays well together, despite

On the Water tahes us to a 1980s village yard, where alcohol, gossip, and fishing serve as the only available form of entertainment.

the off notes. Force of habit and lack of comparison are good peacemakers too – peace with yourself, the others, with circumstances. People have always lived this way, to the rhythm of pitiful and glorious moments intertwining, taking turns. There is no doubt that ethereal fumes wafting in the yard will be mixed with the smell of pancakes and fried fish on Sundays. It’s a community – no less important than an eco-community, startup or political community – despite the fact we are not used to think of the dirty small-town backyard as a community. These yards haven’t disappeared. Drive down the winding roads of South Estonia, towards Lake Peipus, or have a peek behind small-town fences, and you will most likely see some extravagant characters. Anywhere, frankly. Perhaps even behind your home window. Yet, life in a grimy backyard is rarely that colourful and mellow as in a full-colour feature film. Despite serious undercurrents, On the Water is as bright as childhood memories. The tone is set by houses painted yellow and red, gowns with flower patterns, and Simm’s inherent affection for technical gadgets. A TV is playing in the kitchen, nostalgic 1980s pop hits are on the radio. A wistful romantic atmosphere hints at a more profound core of the story. At every step, On the Water invites us to understand people and see behind their façade. Half of the people here would be written off today. Let’s be honest: we do not get overly excited when we meet crude, uneducated, violent, alcoholic characters. Even less likely that we ponder over the circumstances that got them there.

Simm forces us to think about it though. All-the-more, he shows the valuable side of the individuals on a lower rung of the social ladder. A good example would be Andres’ friend Valter, played magnificently by Simm’s familiar cinematic travelling companion, Marko Matvere. Quite a few of us would label Valter as an alcoholic violent abuser, but to Andres, he becomes a buddy, a father figure, and a confidant in this difficult process of growing up to become a decent human being. On the Water touches upon general human topics, while staying on a traditional path. Simm doesn’t try to create new trends here, and doesn’t allow himself too much experimentation. On the contrary, it’s a heartfelt crowd pleaser, where serious themes are freshly painted with colourful nostalgia. EF

On the Water By Aurelia Aasa First published in Eesti Päevaleht







n an assignment to the abandoned, lawless and apocalyptic Sinai coast a Swedish photojournalist Ingrid (Frida Westerdahl) is kidnapped by a gang of Palestinian men and hidden in the desert. Soon Ingrid finds herself falling in love with the most sympathetic of the abductors, Ali (Ali Suliman). Ali’s boss Moussa suspects that something is going on and becomes increasingly dangerous and violent. “This is a film about an all-conquering love between people from completely different cultural backgrounds who find each other in the desert. It is in the desert where the soul becomes naked and what really matters comes to the surface,” describes Kadri Kõusaar. DIRECTOR KADRI KÕUSAAR is a multi-award-winning Estonian writer and director born in 1980. Her debut feature Magnus (2007), about a father trying to help his suicidal son, was the first Estonian film ever included at the official selection of Cannes Film Festival



Kadri Kõusaar

(Un Certain Regard). Kadri’s second film The Arbiter (2013) premiered internationally in competition (East of the West) at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and her third film Mother (2016), was included in the programmes of more than 80 international film festivals to date and was Estonia’s entry for the Oscars in the category of the Best Foreign Language Film in 2017. It premiered in the international narrative competition of Tribeca Film Festival. Deserted (2021) was released as part of the official selection of Busan International Film Festival.

Original title: Kõrb Genre: modern hostage drama Languages: English, Arabic, Swedish Director: Kadri Kõusaar Screenwriter: Kadri Kõusaar Cinematographer: Sten-Johan Lill E.S.C. Editor: Menni Renvall Composer: BJ Nilsen Sound: Joonas Jyrälä Main cast: Ali Suliman, Frida Westerdahl Producer: Aet Laigu Co-producers: Charlotte Most, Maria Larsson Guerpillon, Essi Haukkamaa, Merja Ritola Produced by: Meteoriit (EE), MostAlice Film (SE), Greenlit Productions (FI) World premiere: Busan IFF 2021 92 min / DCP / 2.39:1/ 5.1 Dolby Digital CONTACT Meteoriit Aet Laigu +372 5825 8962


Compartment No. 6


young Finnish woman escapes an enigmatic love affair in Moscow by boarding a train to the arctic port of Murmansk. Forced to share the long ride and a tiny sleeping car with a rough Russian miner, the unexpected encounter leads the occupants of Compartment no. 6 to face the truth about their own loneliness and yearning for human connection. DIRECTOR JUHO KUOSMANEN Juho Kuosmanen (b. 1979) is a Helsinki based filmmaker. He graduated from ELO Helsinki Film School of Aalto University in 2014. His first two films have won a prize in Cannes Film Festival. The Painting Sellers (2010) won the 1st prize in Cannes Cinéfondation and The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (2016) won The Prix Un Certain Regard. His second full length feature film Compartment No. 6 premiered

Juho Kuosmanen

at 2021 Cannes Official Competition programme and was awarded the Grand Prix and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Besides making award-winning films, he has directed avant-garde opera and theater. He also makes silent short films with live music and foleys. He is the co-founder and artistic director of a small film festival in his birth town Kokkola.

Original title: Hytti nro 6 / Kupee nr. 6 Genre: drama Language: Russian Director: Juho Kuosmanen Screenwriters: Andris Feldmanis, Livia Ulman with Juho Kuosmanen (inspired by the novel Compartment No. 6 by Rosa Liksom) Cinematographer: J-P Passi F.S.C. Production Designer: Kari Kankaanpää Editor: Jussi Rautaniemi Sound: Pietu Korhonen Main cast: Seidi Haarla, Yuriy Borisov, Julia Aug, Dinara Drukarova Producer: Jussi Rantamäki Co-producers: Riina Sildos, Jamila Wenske, Natalya Drozd-Makan, Sergey Selyanov Produced by: Aamu Film Company (FI), Amrion (EE), Achtung Panda! (DE), CTB Film Company (RU) World premiere: Cannes Film Festival 2021 – Grand Prix Festivals: TIFF, São Paulo IFF, BFI London FF, KVIFF, Vancouver IFF, Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Busan IFF, Valladolid IFF, Jerusalem FF – Best International Film, Deauville FF, Helsinki IFF – Love & Anarchy, Zurich FF, Viennale, Norwegian IFF, Calgary IFF 105 min / Shot on film / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Amrion Riina Sildos +372 504 8985 SALES Totem Films ESTONIAN FILM




Captain Volkonogov Escaped


aptain Fedor Volkonogov is part of the law enforcement system. He is appreciated by the commander and respected by colleagues. But the moment comes for Captain’s life to take the abrupt turn—he is criminally charged. Captain manages to escape prior to the arrest turning in a split of the second into prey hunted down by ex-colleagues. At night Fedor receives the warning from the afterlife that he is destined for Hell and eternal torments. Though Captain still has a chance to change the destiny and be accepted to Heaven under condition that he repents and at least one person grants him sincere forgiveness. Fedor sets on a mission to find absolution having no idea of the trials he is to face on this route. DIRECTOR NATASHA MERKULOVA born in 1979, graduated from the Irkutsk University and from the High Courses

for Scriptwriters and Film Directors of Moscow. Worked as a presenter on Irkutsk television. Her debut feature film Intimate Parts (2013) was critically acclaimed and gained over 30 awards and nominations at various Russian and international film festivals. Her second feature, The Man Who Surprised Everyone, co-directed and written with her husband Aleksey Chupov, premiered at Venice, where it won the Orizzonti Award for Best Actress. DIRECTOR ALEKSEY CHUPOV born in 1973, graduated from the Moscow State University, studied Movie History at Wake Forest University in the U.S. Started out as a TV journalist. Together with his wife Natasha Merkulova he wrote the screenplay and directed the film Intimate Parts – a critically acclaimed debut of 2013. Their second feature, The Man Who Surprised Everyone, premiered at Venice, where it won the Orizzonti Award for Best Actress.

Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov



Original title: Капитан Волконогов бежал Genre: drama, thriller Language: Russian Directors: Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov Screenwriters: Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov, Mart Taniel Cinematographer: Mart Taniel E.S.C. Production Designer: Sergey Fevralev Editor: François Gédigier Composers: Elena Stroganova, Matis Rei Sound: Matis Rei Main cast: Yuriy Borisov, Timofey Tribuntsev, Aleksandr Yatsenko, Nikita Kukushkin, Vladimir Epifantsev, Anastasiya Ukolova, Natalya Kudryashova, Dmitriy Podnozov, Viktoriya Tolstoganova, Yuriy Kuznetsov, Igor Savochkin Producers: Valeriy Fedorovich, Evgeniy Nikishov, Alexander Plotnikov Co-producers: Katrin Kissa, Charles-­ Evrard Tchekhoff Produced by: Place of Power (RU), Lookfilm (RU), Homeless Bob Productions (EE), Kinovista (FR) World premiere: Venice International Film Festival 2021 – in Competition Festivals: São Paulo IFF, Chicago IFF, Ghent FF, Busan IFF, Warsaw IFF 126 min / DCP / 2.35:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Homeless Bob Production Katrin Kissa +372 5667 7855 SALES Memento International Mathieu Delaunay +33 6 8788 4526

Sandra Gets a Job


octor of Physics Sandra Mets (Mari Abel) suddenly loses her job. Finding a new job seems easy at first, but turns out to be a tragi-comic experience. Endless job interviews introduce the main character to many different situations and personas from grotesque entrepreneur to fearless start-up managers. Otherwise thoughtful Sandra finds herself in a world of hypocrisy and strange power. She needs to adapt to new situations and people, but still has to find a way to remain herself. DIRECTOR KAUPO KRUUSIAUK graduated from Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School as a film director. He also studied at FAMU in Prague

FILM INFO Kaupo Kruusiauk

and has a stage director diploma from Estonian Theatre and Music Academy. Kaupo has previously directed numerous short and documentary films. His debut feature film Sandra Gets a Job premiered in September 2021. Kruusiauk currently also gives film lectures in Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School.

Original title: Sandra saab tööd Genre: drama Language: Estonian Director: Kaupo Kruusiauk Screenwriter: Kaupo Kruusiauk Cinematographer: Sten-Johan Lill E.S.C. Production Designer: Tiiu-Ann Pello Editor: Kaie-Ene Rääk Composer: Kali Briis Sound: Horret Kuus Main cast: Mari Abel, Alo Kõrve, Raimo Pass, Kaie Mihkelson, Henrik Kalmet Producer: Anneli Ahven Produced by: Kopli Kinokompanii Domestic premiere: September 21, 2021 Festivals: Tallinn Black Nights FF, EnergaCAMERIMAGE 96 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / Dolby SR CONTACT Kopli Kinokompanii Anneli Ahven +372 5562 2041




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

Kids of the Night


hree sisters – Liis, Karin and Jane – have all reached a different breaking point in their lives. Liis has just graduated from high school and finds out that her planned future with her boyfriend may not be as certain as she thought. Older sister Karin, the first victim of their parents’ expectations, is trying to survive in a modern sexist business environment. The youngest of the sisters, teenager Jane, is trying to stand up to her party-loving friend’s pressure to be someone she is not. One fateful night reveals all the secrets and feelings these three have never dared to admit. DIRECTOR PRIIT PÄÄSUKE premiered his short fiction Black Peter at the 38th Tampere Film Festival in 2008 and won 11 prizes from 22 festivals across the world. In 2015, he premiered his feature length documentary debut Impromptu. Priit’s fiction feature debut The End of The Chain premiered at the Karlovy Vary IFF – East of the West competition programme in 2017. In October 2019, his second feature documentary Tõnis Mägi: Silence in Light premiered. Priit’s second fiction feature film – youth comedy Kids of the Night – premiered in July 2021.



101 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1

Priit Pääsuke

CONTACT Alexandra Film Marianne Ostrat +372 523 3577

Tree of Eternal Love


DIRECTOR MEEL PALIALE is a new-generation filmmaker from Estonia. Together with his childhood friend Urmet Piiling, they have made several award-winning short films. Tree of Eternal Love is his debut feature. Both Meel and Urmet are currently studying in the Estonian Academy of Arts.


ree of Eternal Love is a humor-spiced debut feature film by new generation filmmakers Meel Paliale and Urmet Piiling. Kiik, a young car mechanic stuck between the gears of life, finds out that his girlfriend’s heart has been won over by a new handsome man. To get rid of the pain haunting his soul, Kiik asks his best friend to join him on the adventure to cut down the tree of eternal love. The journey to the mystical tree becomes thorny, intriguing and criminal.

Meel Paliale

Original title: Kiik, kirves & igavese armastuse puu Genre: comedy, drama Language: Estonian Director: Meel Paliale Screenwriters: Meel Paliale, Urmet Piiling Cinematographer: Markus Mikk Production Designers: Meel Paliale, Urmet Piiling Editor: Meel Paliale Composers: Janek Murd, Meel Paliale Sound: Joonas Taimla, Breth Bachmann Main Cast: Urmet Piiling, Herman Pihlak, Marko Matvere, Andrus Vaarik, Jan Uuspõld, Egon Nuter, Mihkel Raud, Franz Malmsten, Hanna-Ly Aavik, Pirte Laura Lember, Producers: Rain Rannu, Tõnu Hiielaid Produced by: Tallifornia World premiere: Youth and Children’s Film Festival Just Film 2021 82 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Tallifornia Tõnu Hiielaid





Tell Me


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



Marta Pulk

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

Original title: Räägi ära Theme: social issues, mental health, pandemic Languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Albanian, Estonian, Mandarin, German Director: Marta Pulk Co-directors: Rodrigo Baptista, Agustín Barrutia, Sebastián López Borda, Rupert Clague, João Carlos Couto, Tom Hamburger, Quentin Lazzarotto, César Málaga, Tanya Marar, Ashley Mosher, Sonja Ortiz, Brett Pedersen, Fermín Pedros, Pablo Radice, Norika Sefa, Gerónimo Tanoira, Natalia Trzcina, Lucía Valdemoros, Shen Wei, Kevin Zayat Cinematographers: Aivo Rannik, Agustin Barrutia et al. Editor: Jaak Ollino Composer: Chihei Hatakeyama Sound: Gabriel Solis Producers: Karolina Veetamm, Tanya Marar Co-producer: Marta Pulk Produced by: Kafka Films (EE), Ettevaatlik Sten (EE), SomeNobody productions (JO) World premiere: Ji.hlava IDFF 2021 Festivals: Tallinn Black Nights FF 75 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT Karolina Veetamm +372 5196 8064




o understand the international phenomenon of Uku Kuut means to understand the ability of different musical niches, sub-genres and hidden creative explosions to not only exist, but flourish, completely independently of the mainstream. Kuut’s life, mothered by Maryn E. Coote (who you may know as the Estonian Jazz diva Marju Kuut), took him from the Soviet Union to refuge in Sweden, music studios in Los Angeles, back to a re-independent Estonia and later, fighting ALS, to speakers all around the world. A Greek comedy captured on 8mm, VHS and BETA tape. DIRECTOR IVAR MURD was born September 13, 1990 in Kohtla-Järve – a shale oil mining town in East Estonia. He has lived in Finland, Denmark and the United States. Gra­ duated magna cum laude in 2013 from

Ivar Murd

Original title: u.Q. Theme: music, experimental, portait Languages: Estonian, English Director: Ivar Murd Screenwriter: Ivar Murd Editor: Ivar Murd Composer: Uku Kuut & Maryn E. Coote Sound: Markku Tiidumaa Producer: Margus Õunapuu Produced by: Film Tower World premiere: Tallinn Black Nights FF 2021 83 min / DCP /16:9 / Dolby 5.1

Fairleigh Dickinson University (Madison, NJ, USA), Department of Audiovisual Arts, majoring in Directing with a minor in Studio Arts. Directs and produces documentaries and music videos. He is one of the organizers of Mägede Hääl music festival and the CEO of Kino Sõprus since 2020.

CONTACT Film Tower Margus Õunapuu +372 565 1654




The Diary of Vaino Vahing


n 1968–1984, Vaino Vahing kept a diary about real events and persons in his own subjective interpretation. It reflects the cultural life of Tartu, love affairs, bohemian parties and intellectual quests of the time. Vahing was interested in borderline situations, crossing the borders. He drew no clear line between art and life. Vahing provoked people, tried to make them to lose their masks, their self-control. He called this provoking the Spiel, or play. We are looking at a creator who has made disharmony his source of inspiration, who experiences “the greatest torment in love”. One who fears to lose himself in love. A human perceiving the great power of love and responding subconsciously with disharmony. The red line in the diary of Vahing is sacrificing life for art. The life where everyday burns to ashes and nothing but pure art remains. Is this possible at all or do we still have to try to love first? To err is human, as well as to suffer from the consequences. But does a person suffer just because erring, or is



suffering an inevitable part of a human being? A part, deeper reasons of which remain a secret? The film does not try to judge Vahing but cast some light into these black holes on the verge of which he performed his balancing act that makes him human and his creations ever enchanting.

FILM INFO Original title: Vaino Vahingu päevaraamat Theme: spiel-documentary Language: Estonian Director: Rainer Sarnet Screenwriter: Rainer Sarnet Cinematographer: Erik Põllumaa E.S.C. Editor: Martin Männik Sound: Harmo Kallaste Producer: Marianne Kõrver Produced by: Klaasmeri World premiere: Tallinn Black Nights FF 2021

Rainer Sarnet

79 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 DIRECTOR RAINER SARNET (b. 1969) is a film and stage director, film critic, and creator of photo comics for newspapers. He has made several shorts and in 2007, he debuted in features with Where Souls Go, The Idiot, inspired by the Dostoyevsky novel, came four years later. The film had its world premiere at the Busan IFF and subsequently toured the festival circuit (Best Cinematography at PÖFF). His fourth full-length feature, November, based on the best-selling novel by Andrus Kivirähk, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the best cinematography award. The Diary of Vaino Vahing is Sarnet’s second full-length documentary.

CONTACT Klaasmeri Marianne Kõrver +372 5691 1149 SALES Must Käsi Kristi Porila

A Wish Upon a Satellite


Wish Upon a Satellite is a film about a little boy Otto whose parents had promised him a dog for his tenth birthday – before they suddenly passed away. When Otto sees a falling star the evening before his birthday he makes a wish upon it. To his surprise he realises that the bright object seems falling straight into the forest behind his grandma’s house. Having just read a comic book of aliens he fearfully wanders to investigate. On a clearing he finds a little spacecraft, the Sputnik, and prepares for the worst. However, when the hatch of the weird vehicle opens a little dog exits instead – with the name Laika engraved on his collar. Knowing that his grandma is wary of dogs Otto stays in the forest. DIRECTOR LEENI LINNA is an independent Estonian film director. She has BA and MFA degrees in Filmmaking from the Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School and she recently

Leeni Linna

graduated from her filmmaking studies at the New York Film Academy, Los Angeles. She has directed several short movies, documentaries and TV commercials before and during her studies. Leeni has also worked as a director, editor, producer and screenwriter for various TV shows. Including working as an Associate Produ­ cer at Vice Media’s tv channel VICELAND in New York.

FILM INFO Original title: Kingitus orbiidilt Genre: drama, family Language: Estonian Director: Leeni Linna Screenwriters: Leeni Linna, Leana Jalukse Cinematographer: Daniel Lindholm F.S.C. Production Designer: Taivi Lippmaa Editor: Jussi Rautaniemi Composer: Janek Murd Sound design: Markus Andrea Main cast: Otto Samuel Kahar, Anne Reemann, Andres Raag, Ursula Ratasepp, Külli Teetamm Producer: Karin Reinberg Co-Producer: Merja Ritola Produced by: Revolver Film (EE), Greenlit Productions (FI) World premiere: FILMETS 2021 Festivals: Schlingel IFF, LA Shorts, CineKid, Cinefest, PÖFF Shorts 17 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Revolver Film Karin Reinberg +372 5343 6863




Mia and Liki


t seems the summer will last forever. Sisters Mia and Liki are taking the best out of it but the signs that something’s wrong with their parents disturb their happy life. Girls perceive the changes around them but can’t comprehend the situation, which causes inexplicable fear and confusion.

FILM INFO Katrin Tegova

DIRECTOR KATRIN TEGOVA is a director and screenwriter. Katrin received a bachelor’s degree in dramatic theory from the University of Tartu in 2005 and an MA in scriptwriting from Tallinn University’s Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School in 2013. She has done four short films – The Photo (2013), Christmas Mystery (2018), Nissan Patrol (2017) and Silver Wedding (2013) and two feature films – Cherry Tobacco (2014), The Man Who Looks Like Me (2017) as a co-director and co-screenwriter together with director Andres Maimik.



Original title: Mia ja Liki Genre: drama Language: Estonian Director: Katrin Tegova Screenwriter: Katrin Tegova Cinematographer: Mart Raun Production Designer: Katrin Sipelgas Editor: Emeri Abel Composer: Janek Murd Sound: Gert Mäll Main cast: Miriam Mia Maimik, Liisa-Lotta Vahemets Producer: Maario Masing Produced by: Tandem Film World premiere: PÖFF Shorts 2021 15 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / Stereo CONTACT Tandem Film Maario Masing +372 5559 9899

’Til We Meet Again


ven at home one can feel homesick. This is a story about an island and an elderly woman. Destiny has taken her far away from her home island. Being finally able to return, she finds that strangers are living there now. What is home? Just a mere location or a place where you can find equanimity and piece of mind. The makers of this film are trying to reflect upon the deepest layers of human nature.

Ülo Pikkov

Animation short ‘Til We Meet Again talks about the tragic history of a small Ruhnu Island. Fearing for their lives, its entire population abandoned their homes while escaping the war in 1944. Decades later they had a chance to finally return, only to find out that the strangers had settled in. DIRECTOR ÜLO PIKKOV (1976) is an internationally renowned filmmaker, producer and film scholar. Pikkov studied animation at the Turku Arts Academy in Finland and since 1996, has directed several award-winning animation films (Empty Space, Tik-Tak, Body Memory, Dialogos). He has published articles on film and written fiction books for children and adults. Pikkov is the author of Animasophy, Theoretical Writings on the Animated Film (2010). In 2018, Pikkov got doctoral degree at the Estonian Academy of Arts with his thesis on „Anti-Animation: Textures of Eastern European Animated Film“.

FILM INFO Original title: Taaskohtumine Language: Estonian Director: Ülo Pikkov Screenwriter: Ülo Pikkov Cinematographer: Raivo Möllits Production Designer: Anu-Laura Tuttelberg Animators: Triin Sarapik-Kivi, Marili Sokk Editors: Ülo Pikkov, Raivo Möllits Composer: Karoliina Kreintaal Technique: stop motion & sand animation Producer: Kerdi Oengo Produced by: Nukufilm World premiere: PÖFF Shorts 2021 14 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Nukufilm Kerdi Oengo +372 516 3833




A Most Exquisite Man


here exists a most exquisite man, or at least the world that surrounds him, labels and sees him as such. He has fantastic abilities, incomprehensible talent, he could even be called a genius, yet something within him is restless. Big questions utterly absorb him, leading him to a place where all he can do is surrender his life, in order to find that which gives him and the natural world undeniable purpose and everlasting peace. DIRECTOR JONAS TAUL was born in Tallinn in 1986, but has lived abroad a major part of his life. He has studied animation in the Estonian Academy of Arts and received a Bachelor’s degree in Audiovisual Art from Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In 2016,

Jonas Taul

he published his first book, of which he was the writer-illustrator. Today, Jonas is back in Estonia and continues to work in different fields of art. A Most Exquisite Man is his debut animated film.

FILM INFO Original title: Üks imeline mees Languages: Estonian, English Director: Jonas Taul Screenwriter: Jonas Taul Cinematographer: Ragnar Neljandi Animator: Märt Kivi Production Designer: Jonas Taul Editors: Jonas Taul, Ragnar Neljandi Composer: Jakob Juhkam Sound: Ekke Västrik Technique: stop-motion Creative supervisor: Märt Kivi Producer: Kerdi Oengo Produced by: Nukufilm Festivals: Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival - Best Professional Film, Stop Motion Our Fest SMOF – Best International Film, Animist Tallinn, Fredrikstad Animation Festival – Grand Prix 13 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Nukufilm Kerdi Oengo +372 615 5322




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