Estonian Film 2022 / 3

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w w w.f ilmi.e e



Mait Malmsten

Ilmar Raag

Befriends His Chracters

Offers Hope with His New Movie

Dora Nedeczky

Ove Musting An Experienced

A New Start in Estonia


the Culture & Doc Film Capital



Be part of the European Capital of Culture! Arts of Survival Documentaries Film Competition Deadline for submission: 1 December 2022





his is the last edition of the magazine in 2022 – and what a year it has been! The world is not the same, but we in the film industry need to keep working and do what we know best – making wonderfully engaging films. Films that people want to see, films that reflect our lives, our truths, and our values; today, more than ever before. This is our tenth year since we began the Estonian Film magazine. First, we published a digital version, and then in 2017 we introduced the print version. All together we have published 28 issues, including a special edition entitled Estonian Film Classics. Thank you, dear readers – we will continue to build on the positive momentum we have created. Autumn is the time for films to be nominated for the Oscar race. Estonia will be represented by Ove Musting’s film Kalev, a big local box-office success. The film tells the true story of how in 1991 a small team of Estonian basketball-players won the USSR championship and beat the best Soviet Russian players. You can read more about the film and its makers in the current issue of our magazine. We also feature an interview with another important film director, Ilmar Raag, who will release his next film Erik Stoneheart in December. It is a film about a boy who thinks he has a heart of stone and his fantastical journey to an In-Between-World where he learns how hard it really is to wear a heart of stone. Apart from film-directors, you can also read about Mait Malmsten – simply a great actor. A wonderful performer in the theatre, but absolutely amazing on the big screen, especially in the main role of the film Kalev. In 2024, Tartu will become the European Capital of Culture, and the head of the film programme, Kaarel Kuurmaa, tells us about the significant film project Tartu is preparing for the occasion - the main focus being on documentaries. As with every November, this year the Black Nights Film Festival will engage us with its superb programme and industry events. Read more about it from our magazine. Last but not least, I will stay with you for a little more time. After an open competition, the Board of the Estonian Film Institute decided to renew my contract for five years. Stay tuned!

Edith Sepp, CEO of Estonian Film Institute

Content 4

NEWS 8 Views of Lake Biwa in Post-production


PRODUCER Dora Nedeczky New Start


10 DIRECTOR Ilmar Raag Offers Hope

15 NEWS Kalev & Sierra in the Oscar’s Race

16 Event Docs in Tartu 20 COVER STORY Ove Musting An Experienced Debutant

25 NEWS Kim Ki-Duk’s Last Film at PÖFF

26 NEWS Free Money in Post-production 28 EVENT The Film Awards Given Out 30 TALENT Mait Malmsten


Blessed & Wanted

36 EVENT Lighting up the Black Nights 40 EVENT Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event – Focusing on Resilience

42 FUNDS How to Find Money in Estonia 44 REVIEW The Sleeping Beast 48 Review Melchior the Apothecary 50 NEW FILMS The Overview of the Latest Estonian Films

30 Photos by Tanja Ryhanen, Virge Viertek, Herkki Erich Merila

Estonian Film is published three times per year by Estonian Film Institute

Estonian Film Institute Uus 3, 10111, Tallinn, Estonia Phone: +372 627 6060 I E-mail: I Editor in Chief: Eda Koppel Contributing Editor: Maria Ulfsak (Eesti Ekspress) Contributors: Aurelia Aasa, Andrei Liimets, Johannes Lõhmus Translation: Tristan Priimägi, Maris Karjatse Linguistic Editing: Paul Emmet Design & Layout: Profimeedia Printed by Reflekt Cover: Ove Musting Photo by Riina Varol ESTONIAN FILM


of Estonian Film

Photo by Anu Hammer

10 Years



Ballads on the Lake Marko Raat’s 8 Views of Lake Biwa was shot last summer near the Estonian-Russian border. The feature is described as a net of tragic love stories. By EFI


he Estonian-Finnish co-production is led by Estonia’s film production company, Allfilm, partnering with Bufo from Finland. Animated segments will be handled in Hungary, making the project a first fully Finno-Ugric co-operation. The budget of the project is 1.3 million euros. The film marks writer-director Marko Raat’s fiction feature return after a decade of documentaries at a variety of international film festivals, galleries and museums, including a short film at the Venice Biennale. Raat’s previous fiction work was Snow Queen, an Estonian-Norwegian co-production. Allfilm’s Ivo Felt is delegate producer, with Dora Nedeczky also producing. Felt’s previous work include Zaza Urushadze’s Tangerines, nominated for the



Academy Award and the Golden Globe, as well as Klaus Härö’s The Fencer, nominated for the Golden Globe. Recent release Truth and Justice broke all the box office records in Estonia, while Felt also worked as a local Service Producer for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. Nedeczky has produced a number of acclaimed shorts with British auteur Peter Strickland, as well as a number of experimental features in her native Hungary. Bufo’s Mark Lwoff and Misha Jaari are co-producers. Their latest productions include Aki Kaurismäki’s Berlinale Silver Bear Winner The Other Side of Hope, (co-produced with Sputnik). Bufo and Allfilm have most recently worked together on Saara Saarela’s dystopian drama Memory of Water, which was released in September 2022. According to Marko Raat, Japanese

culture as a whole exemplifies a certain type of organic and apolitical spirituality. “The Eight Views” is an Eastern artistic tradition that describes a place through eight poetic motives, such as evening glow, sails returning in the evening, autumn moon, temple bells, and wild geese departing. Lake Biwa in Japan, in particular, has inspired a long tradition of artists and authors interpreting these scenes. Through these views, we’re seeking the intersection of this animistic sense of nature and the islets of magical thought within eight intertwined tragic love stories set in the modern world. We aim to create expectations, deceive them, and distance the viewer from everyday realism,” says the director. Centering on the magical realist, coming-of-age tale of teenage protagonist, Hanake, 8 Views features a blend of Estonian-Japanese culture and imagery. The story is wrapped in a net of tragic love stories in the community, and told through the prism of the “Eight Views” art tradition, illuminating how we have all lost touch with the soulfulness of the world. The film portrays these intertwined love

Photo by Tristan Czar Aasmäe

Elina Masing (above) and Tiina Tauraite

Marko Raat

The story is wrapped in a net of tragic love stories in the community, and told through the prism of the “Eight Views” art tradition, illuminating how we have all lost touch with the soulfulness of the world.

stories between the people of a single rural fishing village. Everybody knows everyone else, and each story’s protagonists are supporting characters in the other stories. All ballads are interrupted, only to continue in the next stories. The majority of 8 Views’ filming took take place near Estonia’s Lake Peipus, on the Russian-Estonian border. In keeping with the story, loosely based on Max Dauthendey’s eponymous 1911 novel, shooting was within an Old Believers community religious refugees who fled Russia in the 17th century. The film integrates a wide range of poetic, literary and liturgical references. The main roles of the film are played by Elina Masing, Tiina Tauraite, Hendrik Toompere, Meelis Rämmeld, Simeoni Sundja, Jan Uuspõld and Tommi Korpela. The script is written by Marko Raat, the cinematographer is Sten Johan Lill, E.S.C, the production designer is Kristina Lõuk, and from Finland the sound designer is Karri Niinivaara, while the composer is Laura Hynninen. The project was presented at the Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event co-production market in 2020 and at Marché du Film’s Co-Production Day in 2021. 8 Views of Lake Biwa is supported by Estonian Film Institute, Estonian Cultural Endowment, Tartu Film Fund and Finnish Film Foundation, and it’s being made in collaboration with Yle. The world premiere is planned for the year 2023. EF ESTONIAN FILM






Dora Nedeczky is a Hungarian producer and strategist, with a background in aesthetics, film theory and history, living in Tallinn since 2020. Marko Raat’s upcoming film is her first feature in Estonia as a producer – she is working shoulder to shoulder with Estonia’s most established film producer Ivo Felt. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Marcell Lobenwein and Roxana Sadvokassova


ora, please tell us a bit more about your background – you are originally from Hungary, but what brought you to Estonia?

It’s been a long journey, but it starts back in 2011. Hungary’s film fund had collapsed and, instead of financing films, all I could do was to participate in international training programmes. It was time wellspent – I was selected to Sarajevo, Berlinale Talents, Kyoto Filmmakers Lab, etc. The very first of these trainings was the ENGAGE Programme back in 2011, in which I had Edith Sepp and Tiina Lokk among my mentors and we walked around Tallinn and visited BFM (Baltic Film, Media and Arts School). It’s always been a very fond memory. As my career progressed, I found myself working mostly with international directors - I’ve produced several short films for the British cult director Peter Strickland (GUO4, 2019 – Venice; Cold Meridian 2020 – San Sebastian), and worked on a number of short docs with Texas-based directors Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan (The Rabbit Hunt, 2017 – Berlinale; Happiness Is A Journey, 2021 – Locarno). My first feature length films Empty Horses (2019 – IFFR) and The Philosophy of Horror (2020 – Torino, IFFR) by Lichter Péter and Bori Máté (Hungarian experimental filmmakers and academics) were financed outside of the traditional system. Hungary will always have a special place in my heart, still, I’ve been sub-consciously searching for a new place I can call home for over a decade. While the Hungarian film industry has exciting aspects, the tax credit and NFI initiatives such as Fast Forward programme and the

Incubator, I didn’t have access to great opportunities, even after delivering A-list premieres. But when did you move here?

The actual move happened very quickly. I put together my love for wild Northern forests, longing for the sea (coming from a land-locked country), and my experience in different film industry regions, and there it was. I moved with my partner, plants and pets by car four days before the borders were closed in 2020. It’s a quite different place to live, but we also have some shared history. I do feel like there is a deeper Finno-Ugric connection too! This is your first project as a producer here. You are working in the biggest production company Allfilm at the moment. How did that happen and how has the experience been so far?

After deciding to move to Tallinn, I consciously tried to build up my network here. I was lucky enough to hold a lecture about film festival strategy at Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event in 2019, while I also had the Nordic premiere of GUO4 at PÖFF Shorts. I tried to rekindle my old relationships with my ENGAGE 2011 and EAVE Producers Workshop 2016 classmates, and I also tried to meet as many people from the Estonian film industry as I could. That happened to include Ivo Felt. I imagined that at first I’d find work in the production or coordination department of some random service production, so it was a very pleasant surprise when Ivo suggested I read the treatment for 8 Views of Lake Biwa. From then on, the collaboration and the ESTONIAN FILM


PRODUCER Dora Nedeczky is currently working on Marko Raat’s 8 Views of Lake Biwa.

GUO4 (directed by Peter Strickland).

Cold Meridian (directed by Peter Strickland).

The more I sat with the script - and this central idea that we’ve all lost our connection to the world and our playfulness - the more it resonated with me. atmosphere working with Ivo and director Marko Raat has been both incredibly inspiring but also remarkably calm and open. They’ve worked together for many years and it feels like a real honour that they would invite me into this creative space as an equal. 8 Views of Lake Biwa is quite an extraordinary project. For you personally, what is it about it



that impresses you, what made you feel that this is the film I want to spend the next years of my life with? The Philosophy of Horror (directed by Péter Lichter and Bori Máté).

It’s quite unlike anything I’ve come across before – a beautiful, heavy, grotesque vision which we’re transforming into this rich, multi-layered, monumental piece of art. As a student of aesthetics and film theory, I had semesters focused on iconography and Japanese filmmaking, and I love the depth of symbolism and precision that Marko applies to what he does. Delving into his previous works, I could see from The Knife and Snow Queen how sensitively and knowingly he approaches female characters, and how deep he explores the dark and destructive side of the human experience. It felt cathartic, and that’s exactly how I felt when I first read the treatment. The more I sat with the script – and this central idea that we’ve all lost our connection to the world and our playfulness - the more it resonated with me. I think that’s been the case for the many cast and crew members who’ve come aboard along the way too. The hard work that they’re all putting in now is driven by a belief that this tragic story, that still reveals an essential magic at the bottom of everything, will really speak to the world as it is today. EF

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




Ilmar Raag

Offers Hope

Multi-talented Ilmar Raag has only just completed his first children’s film Erik Stoneheart. It’s a grandiose pirate fantasy about two kids venturing off to a world co-inhabited by ghosts and parents. Or both at the same time. By Johannes Lõhmus Photos by Virge Viertek, Priit Grepp and Veronique Kolber


ou have just arrived from Ale! Kino Festival in Poznan, Poland, where Erik Stoneheart had its world premiere. Congratulations! How was the film received?

It’s hard to tell yet, because children’s film festivals are quite unique, especially when the kids are speaking another language than your film. During editing we had some test screenings for Estonian kids and the feedback was encouraging. I got the compliment of a lifetime from a 10-year-old boy who said that Erik Stoneheart takes second place in his personal top films, behind Terminator 2. You had your young actors Herman Avandi and Florin Gussak with you thwere. Who are their characters Erik and Maria?

Erik is a 10-year-old introvert boy, who doesn’t dare and cannot speak about his feelings. In other words, a normal Estonian boy. According to the rules of a good genre movie, Maria is quite the opposite – a total ex-

trovert, and a very active and temperamental girl. Maria attempts to find her mother and they end up on a journey together by accident, taking them to the InBetween-World. It is a place between our world and the world of the dead. The fantasy world you have created is very impressive. What was your main inspiration?

I was mainly inspired by steampunk anime aesthetics, and also Harry Potter. There are two key figures in creating that world, to whom I said that if you ever get absolute creative freedom on a movie, then this is it – my Finnish production designer Kari Kankaanpää, and Estonian costume designer Anu Lensment. They pulled out all the stops and I was very fine with that. In addition to the artists, our visual world owes some gratitude to the cinematographers Tuomo Hutri and Ivar Taim who helped with the thorough arrangement of our visual environment and set the right emphasis of the scenes with lighting. ESTONIAN FILM


DIRECTOR It’s not very usual to use two cinematographers simultaneously.

It’s a bit odd indeed, but they learned to work together very well. The reason was that the film relies on special effects quite a lot, meaning that they have to be taken into account already on the set, not to spend too much money in post-production. Due to Ivar’s background, he is familiar with new technology, and we hired him as a DoP who can shoot special effects. During the shoot, it became clear that his contribution is much bigger. Generally, Tuomo sat behind the monitor, checked the wider picture and guided the lighting, and Ivar dealt with the camera and composition of the frame. It is your first children’s film as a director. Given your background and your public persona, wouldn’t it have been more logical for you to shoot a war movie? How did you end up making a children’s film?

The standard answer would be that I’ve always had a little boy inside me. It’s true in a sense that about a quarter of the films and books in my home collection are Japanese anime, fantasy stories, or children’s films. For instance, I am a big fan of Harry Potter and bought the first book already in 1999. When the third book came out, I remember going hunting for the French edition during Cannes Film Festival, because the French translation came out earlier than the Estonian one. When I was ten, I remember this feeling of dislike for simplistic, moralizing films that were done in the manner to avoid insulting kids in any way, and keep them exactly inside the boundaries where all the kids should belong in the grown-ups’ opinion. Completely disregarding the fact that the kids have long evolved beyond those boundaries. It sounds like a promotional quip, but Erik Stoneheart is the kind of film I would like to have watched as a kid.

It sounds like a promotional quip, but Erik Stoneheart is the kind of film I would like to have watched as a kid. Earlier you have written your own scripts, but with the last two features you have adapted someone else’s story. How do these two practices differ for you as a director?

11-year-old boy called Erik (Herman Avandi) and Coldshoe (Juhan Ulfsak).

I am comfortable when I can bounce ideas back and forth. Hence, the work of the writers is very important. On the other hand, I see that the script will only really materialize during rehearsals with the actors. When rehearsing, it becomes apparent sometimes that the scene doesn’t function, and we have to find a solution together. Sometimes that includes a rewrite, also done in collaboration with the actors. It is especially important when working with children, because I cannot make them say just any kind of text in a be-

lievable manner. In case things don’t work, we all start searching for a situation, or wording, that would come naturally. The scenes can change quite a lot as a result, but the initial inspiration certainly came from the script written by Livia Ulman and Andris Feldmanis, and I hope they won’t mind the interpretation we came to, together with the actors. In my opinion, the director doesn’t just have executive power to complete this performance along previously set guidelines, but is an author with a vision, who has to find that special something that addresses him personally in the process. How did the young actors get along with your vision?

With kids, you need to rehearse the scenes so much that they forget they’re citing someone else’s lines. I was extremely lucky to find exactly the right kids for this film, because the final result reflected something



that I value most in an actor – the ability to complete the task with adding something extra that we haven’t discussed previously. Then you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot. How can you manage to be equally very active in a creative and social sphere?

For most of the time I cannot. It comes and goes in waves – at some point, one seems more important, then the other. But I don’t think that art is relevant for the sake of art. It’s always a means to say something, and when I manage an NGO for aiding Ukraine, or organization in the third sector, I am essentially standing for the same thing. In my case, it is idealism in part, but I crave to see paradox and maybe even negative traits in this idealism, so that I can attempt to start a debate with myself as well. The same kind of dilemma is evident in your dual background as a strategic communications expert, and a filmmaker. In strategic communications, the message has to be clear and singular, but a film that is readable in only one way, is likely a very boring one. How do you address this contradiction, or even overcome it?

There’s a type of movie I call “American journalistic films” that handle the topic according to the same standards applied to journalism, giving both sides a chance to speak. Or, forcing people to think, using the Brechtian method of alienation. Out of my films, The Class is the clearest example of victims becoming murderers and the formula appears where the two are equated. I wish for a film that leaves enough space for the viewer to think, because the clearly formulated and finalized message will be fast forgotten. There’s a term in psychology, the Zeigarnik effect, meaning something like people remember unfinished activities better than completed tasks. I would leave some things unsaid in a film, if possible. But I would like to use another differentiation here, between the aesthetics of Plato and Aristotle. Plato encourages us to look at the world and find the truth ourselves. Everything we see is but shadows on the wall of

Besides film directing, Ilmar Raag manages an NGO for aiding Ukraine.

a cave, when we are really interested in the sun, the truth. This is something similar to what modern art or arthouse cinema is aspiring towards, putting all the responsibility on the shoulders of the viewer who needs to figure out where truth is hidden. Aristotle, on the other hand, says that the point of tragedy is to offer people a positive example through sublime deeds. I feel that there are themes where I will gladly lead by example and do not mind adopting a moralist stance. Regarding The Class, for example, it felt wrong to show violence in a neutral, objective manner. The moral lies within showing the mechanism of violence, so that we could condemn it. The line between the two – delivering a clear message and leaving things open to interpretation – is especially thin in the case of children’s films, because these are often trivialized by force feeding the viewers the one and only singular moral of the story.

In Erik Stoneheart, the line between the two should become evident during their journey home from the In-Between-World. Philosophically speaking, the condition of leaving that world is to show that you are alive. And we ask a question: what is the critical condiESTONIAN FILM



Erik moves to a villa his family inherited. He discovers another family living there – Maria (Florin Gussak) and her dad.

tion for showing that a person is alive? It’s not moving your arms and legs, or the beating of your heart. The moral nucleus of Erik Stoneheart lies in a sentence that Erik says in the end of the film: “You are really alive when you can hold someone’s hand”.

plicated, but I see a common link between the two. I remember the feeling I had in April or May, when I knew that I should start writing the next script or a book, because the preparations had been made. Suddenly I understood that I am not capable of doing that because I end up reading the news about Ukraine all the time. I tried, until I understood that some part of my identity, that I hadn’t been aware of so much before, is so agitated that I cannot begin a new film. I have told myself, that while there is war in Ukraine, I will do my very best to try and help to put an end to it. As for Erik Stoneheart, it dawned on me that Tolkien finished “The Lord of the Rings” during World War II. I see Erik Stoneheart as a film that hopefully talks about the world in a hopeful manner during these hard times, and not drag us into the mud, but allow us to take a step back. EF

Your CV shows that you became interested in state defence just about the same time when you started making movies.

True, that’s it. Earlier on, my work at Estonian Natio­ nal Television was so all-encompassing that there was no time left for either filmmaking or state defence. But I’ve always been interested in the conflicts between people. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the theory of screenwriting or dramaturgy is also largely the theory of conflict. Maybe we become interested in what is unusual or differs from the daily routine of logic. As soon as you start seeing social conflicts in movies, you start noticing them more in real life. So, maybe the themes in my films led me to a heightened sense of conflict in the real world. Since February 24, 2022, Estonian cultural figures have been very active in voicing their opinion about state security and founding different related initiatives. I feel that the field of culture has been more active in that sense than other fields of life.

I’d rather use the term creative people, because we all participate in culture equally. And it is the task of a creative person to react to world events. Painter Marko Mäetamm put it nicely at a conference in Paris not long ago: “As soon as the war begins, artists start drawing flowers”. It is a nice thought, and true in a way, because creative people don’t generally embrace or address destruction and violence. The majority of art we make is concentrating on glorifying life. The world today casts a shadow of doubt upon goodness, care, and taking care of the weak. Current events are abusive to the sphere where creative people have been working until now. You are in the middle of organizing winter combat outfits for Ukrainian soldiers. You fight for freedom in Ukraine, how do you still manage to act the part of a director whose film is about to come out?

If it were another kind of a film, it would be more com-



Ilmar Raag

is one of the socially most active filmmakers in Estonia. He writes and publishes essayistic work regularly, is a member of the Estonian Defence League, participates actively in the daily activities of the NGO Slava Ukraini, in order to send necessary supplies to Ukrainian soldiers, and help them in their fight for the future of the world. Earlier, Raag has headed the Estonian National Broadcast, hosted a unique TV show about cinema, acted as strategical communications advisor for the Estonian government, and directed five feature films – The Class (2007), A Lady in Paris (2012), Kertu (2013), I’m Not Coming Back (2014), and Erik Stoneheart (2022), that will have its domestic premiere at the Black Nights Film Festival Just Film section in November, followed by theatrical release.


Kalev Competes


Ove Musting’s debut feature Kalev was selected as the country’s submission for the title of Best International Feature Film at the 2023 Academy Awards. By EFI


ith each passing year it becomes harder and harder to pick just one film to represent Estonia,” admitted Edith Sepp, head of the Estonian Film Institute. “This year was no different!” An independent jury selected this year’s submission from among 11 candidates, which included documentaries in addition to live action films. Kalev is the story of the stressful journey of a legendary Estonian basketball team to the final championships held in the sport in the collapsing Soviet Union. With many of their fellow countrymen opposed to them taking part, and

pitted against merciless opponents, the team faces turbulent times on and off the court. The film was inspired by actual events that took place in 1991, when the Estonian team won the last ever Soviet basketball trophy. The jury also felt that in revisiting the basketball team’s 1991 triumph the director was examining themes that are just as pertinent today: a country’s right to self-determination; opposition to an imperialistic world view; and sport as a universal concept that transcends political power struggles. Another of Kalev’s strengths is that as a team production it also examines how a group comes

together and the roles that individuals play therein. The film was directed by Ove Musting, shot by Rein Kotov, designed by Tiiu-Ann Pello, music composed by Mihkel Zilmer, and produced by Pille Rünk and Maria Avdjuško. It is an Allfilm and Ugri Film co-production distributed by Hea Film.

AND NOW... RACING Also submitted for an Oscar from Estonia is Sander Joon’s short animated film Sierra. At the heart of the story is a young boy who turns into a tyre during a rallydriving competition. Beneath the superficial absurdity of the narrative lies a personal story inspired by the film-maker’s relationship with his father. Sierra will be vying for the title of Best Animated Short Film thanks to its wins at a number of film festivals, including San Francisco and Palm Springs ShortFest. Sierra was written, designed and directed by Sander Joon and produced by Aurelia Aasa (AAA Creative) and Erik Heinsalu (BOP! Animation). EF ESTONIAN FILM



Docs in Tar Tartu, Estonia’s second largest city, will be the European Capital of Culture in 2024. This brings a lot of cinemarelated events to the small university town, including a documentary programme. We asked from Kaarel Kuurmaa, the head of the project, what exactly is in store. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Argo Ingver


aarel, what is the Arts of Survival Documentary programme and its film competition that you run in collaboration with the Estonian Film Institute?

In December 2022 we gather ideas that have begun either in a Tartu filmmakers’ residency, or some other way, and invite the filmmakers to submit their short film treatment that would fit under a general title “Arts of Survival”. Our only requirement is that it should be shot in Tartu and / or Southern Estonia and it should be ready by the beginning of 2024. We have predicted the length of the short to be somewhere between eight and 22 min-

utes, but naturally it all depends on the topic, style, and technique. The Estonian Film Institute’s participation is essential, because it may happen that some idea would fly better as a full-length film, or a series, and would be more efficient if executed in some other format. I understand that all the finished short films will be put together on an “Arts of Survival” compilation. What does the title mean for you personally, or what does it refer to?

I like the concept of the Arts of Survival more and more. When I heard about it for the first time some years ago, it felt it was perhaps a bit too pessimistic and

Kaarel Kuurmaa

seemed to hint at some form of suffering and angst. But as time passes, it becomes more and more optimistic and joyful. Yes, it does encompass a strong ecological theme, but an additional strong political agency has emerged in my opinion. On the other hand, the overall title is wide enough to include sports, apps, handmade chocolate, or religion, if one is being creative. To each their own. As a curator of the project, I try to keep an open mind, but in the end, I feel like a film should make people’s lives better or more meaningful in some way.




Please explain further, what is the role of those documentaries in the general programme of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024?

In 2024, when Tartu with Southern Estonia carries the title of European Capital of Culture, a lot of exciting events will be taking place here, in one of the most vibrant Estonian cities. Artists and creators will gather from all over the world; and filmmakers are sort of pioneers, who have already completed their main task by the beginning of 2024. The films have been completed by then, because the

main objective of our project is to show Tartu becoming the European Capital of Culture, and life in Tartu through the preparation period of the previous year. So that we’d have a visual document of life before 2024. As the title year is probably more festive and special, with a lot of events, our docs are aiming to observe something else. Real life, perhaps. Different modes of living. This selection will hopefully make an exciting whole, with eight different author’s visions, which tell us about something more than just one film. On one hand, every short film is an

exciting piece of art on its own, but it is my hope that it’s the compilation, knitting together works from Estonian and foreign filmmakers, that will make an impact. There is a term used in Anthropology and Social Sciences in general to describe that kind of practice – the so-called emic and etic method, where fieldwork can be approached both from the inside, as a member of the group, or from a knowingly outsider position. Every documentarist knows that creating a field of tension is a natural part of the filmmaking process. ESTONIAN FILM



Open air cinema in Tartu.

Kati Ilves,

Photo Mana Kaasik

TARTU 2024 ARTISTIC DIRECTOR I am writing this on the same day when Jean-Luc Godard, one of the greats of cinema, and a pioneer of the French New Wave, passed away. In cinema, and maybe culture in general, there’s not many people uninfluenced by Godard, directly or indirectly. Authors with such kind of significance exceed time and disciplines. Their departures are significant too, because they force us to summarize the new situation and ask, what to expect from cinema or culture next?

Kati Ilves



I’m very happy that cinema has such a central presence in the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 programme, via Arts of Survival Documentaries, for instance. The presence is substantial because the emphasis is on strong authors, who are free to improvise on the theme of Tartu and Southern Estonia, giving them complete artistic freedom. One of the main themes of the Tartu 2024 Arts of Survival creative concept could also be the survival of the so-called independent art in a world that becomes more and more professional. It is very important that the artists maintain their voice and creative handwriting, and all kinds of result-based expectations would not diminish their scope or creative ambition. Setting boundaries to art is a paradox – first, everybody’s biggest dream is to experience a piece of art that would change the world, a gamechanger in any given field of art, like Godard was once with his works. We can only support, endorse, and value such projects – when project managers set goals for art, then muses, or authors, laugh in the great beyond.

In order to make a conscious attempt to break this tension, it was our plan from the beginning to have 50% of the films in the line-up made by foreign authors who maybe see something about us that we cannot notice ourselves, and the other half by authors living in Estonia, who want to express what is important from the inside perspective. A lot of residencies are happening, and are about to happen soon in Tartu, visited by some really big names in the European documentary world. Please tell us, who are the participants, what have they done here, and what are your plans for the future? Also, why those filmmakers, and what were your requirements for choosing them?

It’s been most surprising that the film industry is almost devoid of this kind of residency opportunities that are so commonplace in art and literature, where there are hundreds of offers all over Europe to take a brief break from creative activities, or the opposite, initiate a period of active work. My residency invitation, has in that sense, come as a very positive surprise to the filmmakers, and

When conceptualizing the “Arts of Survival” short film cassette, we expressed a wish that next to the Estonian directors, interesting creators from abroad would come to make a film in South Estonia. hopefully we see becoming an orbut I wanted the younger generation to ganic part of the film world in the be represented too, for example, who future. might only have one or two strong films When conceptualizing the to show so far. Of course, there were bigger names who couldn’t participate due “Arts of Survival” short film cassette, we expressed a wish that next to the lack of free time, but quite a few to the Estonian directors, interestintriguing authors have spent, or will ing creators from abroad would come to spend some creative time in come to make a film in South EstoSouth Estonia, like Marc Isaacs, Viesturs nia. Kairiš, Jerzy Sladkowski, Virpi Suutari, In order to give them some sort Carl Olsson, Andris Gauja, Einari Paakanen, Filip Remunda, Andrey Paounov, of starting point, and a general idea Aku Louhimies, Aliona van der Horst and of what lies ahead, we formulated the Uljana Osovska. We can say that every project in two parts, where the film production is preceded by an open and inforone of them is searching for their own mal residency for strong and intriguing thing, or a way, to synchronize that “own directors. I want to specify that we’re thing” with the themes, people, events, or talking about creators with an interesting vision here, rather than simply “top diThe team of the Arts of Survival rectors”. Although, yes, Documentary programme. From the left: Liisa Nurmela, Anna-Liisa Ingver they’ve all made documentaand Kaarel Kuurmaa. ries in the past. There are also theatre or opera directors, or authors who have made TV series and fiction films. In any case, the main criterion for selecting participants was their previous work. I have worked as a programmer for different festivals for 15 years, and it’s only natural you develop favourites over time and establish a set of directors to keep an eye on. I also asked the advice of Estonian filmmakers, who they think should participate. On the other hand, it was never my intention to come up with some sort of “Best of the best” selection,

coincidences encountered in the cultural capital space. It seems at the moment, that the filmmakers are intrigued by the so-called “border state” theme, seeing Southern Estonia as a crossroads between different cultures and religions. It is especially surprising for the foreigners to encounter smaller subcultures like the old believers’ community on the coast of Lake Peipus, or Võru region, who have managed to preserve and improve their own distinctive culture over the centuries. But there are also directors who are here to look for the majesty of the Cosmos, or look to Estonia’s eager faith in education, or our proximity to nature for inspiration. EF







AN EXPERIENCED DEBUTANT 1991. The last USSR Premier Basketball League Championship. Estonian team Kalev makes history. Blood, sweat, and tears are in the air. Outside the basketball court the singing revolution is gearing up. Estonian Film talks with the director Ove Musting about the film that is the Estonian nomination for the Academy Award for the Best International Film. By Aurelia Aasa Photos by Riina Varol

ve, the triumph of Kalev basketball team in 1991 is one of the highlights in the history of Estonian sports. Do you remember where you were at that moment?

We were at home with the whole family, watching TV. In the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s we all lived under one roof – my mother and father, brothers-sisters, grandma and grandpa. We watched all the television highlights together, be it a funeral of the head of state, or a sporting event. I remember the vibe of the era even more than the actual basketball game. My grandparents managed to escape deportation twice, but had such fear in their DNA until the end of their lives, that they didn’t believe that Estonia could remain independent even after it became a sovereign state. I re-

member finding our national flag – blueblack-white – from the grandpa’s attic, or pantry. I took it home and put it on the television set. When granny saw it, she freaked out and hid the flag. Only in the Nineties, I cannot recall if it was before or after Kalev’s win, did they reinstate the flag on the television set. I don’t remember it myself, but my dad said that the game made him cry afterwards. It was something so powerful, a little nation’s victory over a big one. I intentionally left the geographical map in the film, to show the scale of who we were up against. But I was afraid too back then. In the 1990s, tanks entered Lithuania. We were in a geography class, discussing if there is going to be war or not. Now, on the 24th of February, Estonian Independence Day, when Russia invaded Ukraine, I felt goosebumps and the same nasty feeling that I had experienced as a kid.

Besides a sports triumph, your film Kalev talks about the process of Estonia becoming independent, and the atmosphere of the so-called Singing Revolution that also permeated the world of sports. Kalev was criticized for taking part in the “Soviet event” back then. How much did you rely on facts when telling your story?

Jaak Salumets, head coach of the team, gathered all the articles, interviews and printed news-bits about Kalev at that time. A huge amount of material. I was actually dead scared that I will be crucified by the sports journalists after the premiere, because the prototypes of the characters criticizing Kalev in the film are still alive today. In the film, they remain anonymous, and I didn’t mention any names to the actors on purpose. In some way, the journalists in the film are symbolic of the thoughts and emotions of ESTONIAN FILM


Photo private collection


our society at that time. They are not malicious, and their questions are honest, just uncomfortable. Hard to say if they were right or not. I’d personally say that it’s a travesty to lambast everything with an open flame. It’s much harder to offer constructive criticism. But it’s to be understood: when the nation is about to become independent, and meanwhile, the sports team is competing as a so-called member of the Soviet Union, it evokes conflicting feelings. When they began winning, everyone was suddenly on their side. Amongst other things, Kalev is posing the question, if sports can be separated from culture. Can it?

I think it’s impossible. People like stories and narratives, and in those days, the burning question in the air was if someone is wearing an Estonian or a Russian name, is one of “us”, or one of “them”. This kind of analysis is going on in people’s heads all the time. Everyone tries to give some accent or add some extra colour to their opinions, to justify either hating or loving someone. Fandom is a sort of friendship or partnership as well. When people separate, they often become the worst of ene-



I went to the basketball workouts and ran along the court with a photo camera to see what works and what doesn’t. mies, although they’ve shared their most intimate secrets. The same with idols. You have given them all, even the feelings you won’t share with your family. You cry, laugh, and scream. An athlete becomes a part of you. And when he loses or gets caught doping, you feel betrayed. It creates anger. It’s interesting what happens with people who attach themselves to something or someone, only to cast them overboard later. It was the producer Pille Rünk who approached you with Kalev. What drew you to this story?

The story itself. I think I sat down and pondered why on earth hasn’t anyone made a film about this grand event yet. I agreed instantly! Next to the sports story, this is also my personal story. Me at

school, afraid that war will break out. Guys who are my age have texted and written to me later, thanking me for reminding them exactly what it felt like back then. I think that’s the biggest achievement of this whole effort – the ability to give people a chance to relive those emotions. As the film revolves around professional sports, the actors were cast according to their physical capabilities. Please describe that process.

I would even start from further back, because I deliberately chose actors, not athletes. Actors have thoroughly studied how to impersonate someone else, so the actors have much more shades in their palette for mental and physical transformation. They began with the general physical

Ove Musting graduated from

the Tallinn Pedagogical University with a BA in Audiovisual Arts. Having worked on a number of short-films, TVC-s, music videos, TV shows and multicamera shows, he has 20 years of work experience.

FILMOGRAPHY Kalev, feature, 2022, director  Traitor, season 2, TV series, 2021, director  Dear Friend, You Have My Respect, short film, 2010, director & co-scriptwriter 30 Minutes of Silence, short film, 2010, director & co-scriptwriter  Paradise for Old Men, short film, 2005, director & co-scriptwriter (The Cultural Endowment of Estonia Award for Best Picture 2005)

training at first, then started a more basketball-specific training, shooting hoops and such, bouncing the ball without looking at it, and so on. The second challenge was to recreate the actual gameplays that were used. We watched the games with the trainer Aivar Kuusmaa, and I picked out which plays I would like to have in the film. Together with the screenwriter Mehis Pihla, who is a great basketball fan too, we tried to figure out how many games we should have in the film in the first place, so that the action would not become repetitive. Next, Kuusmaa sketched all the movements of the players. Then it was down to us to decide how to place the actors in the schemes. After that, we drew the plans, and how to shoot the schemes together with the cinematographer Rein Kotov. I went to the basketball workouts and ran along the court with a photo camera to see what works and what doesn’t. We shot some test scenes and saw that damn… some things don’t work at all. There was a lot of testing like that. And we changed stuff during the shoot too. My wish was that we could make the audience feel like they were in the middle of a game, physically amongst the players. So that they would see and feel the movement of the ball.

said they didn’t sense poverty, and evidently, they also had opportunity to travel. They could visit the USA and buy clothes that others here didn’t have. Due to their position, all the players were able to obtain their own living spaces, and they were driving their own cars – a luxury for most Estonians. This shows that they had better access to resources than most. But I wanted to show poverty, nevertheless. I remember from my childhood that we lived in our own house in the country. We had shelter, but no luxury. I had an idea to show, how they are doing increasingly better throughout the story, and the sponsors come along. At first, they snap their shoelaces, later they are wearing Velcro sneakers. It was important to me personally, because there

was a time when I took a bus to another town, to go to the market and buy myself my first white high-tops. First Reeboks that were designed exactly like Reebok but said Reobak. The soles gave way after a month and water got in, but I kept on wearing them, inspired not by basketball players but 1990s American metal bands. We didn’t want to depict the nineties with a clichéd grotesque – “Colourful clothes? Check. Comical headbands? Check. Moustache? Check.” I tried to steer clear of this, and keep the focus on the story, not the comical depiction of those times that often prevails over the actual stories about the nineties. We had quite extensive discussions about what the visual language should look like. Our nineties are largely shaped by the end Photo private collection

Photo by Heikki Leis

OTHER Founder member of punk/rock/folk/metal band Winny Puhh Founder member of post-country/folk/pop band Aednikud Co founder of circular economy platform Co founder Downtown Pictures (

In Kalev, Russia and Estonia are depicted as quite grimy back in the day. Was the Kalev team a sort of symbol of Western life, with their Adidas sneakers and Levi’s jeans?

When I interviewed the Kalev team, they ESTONIAN FILM


TALENTSTORY COVER I know it’s self-torture to make music videos for free, but I would recommend it to all the directors, because it helps you to hone your own skills and signature style.

of the eighties. It’s a huge work: in addition to the team’s outfits, you need to figure out what the summer clothes, winter clothes, outfits of the opposing team, and the spectators should look like. Production and costume design departments had their hands totally full. Kalev is a thoroughly masculine movie, and is somewhat in contrast with the stories trending on the international scene. Are you worried that there’s too much testosterone in the film?

Good question. We hear opinions about anything and everything. For instance, there was an idea about how the film should end for one of the protagonists, etc. I decided that I am not ready to do it, if it didn’t take place in real life. Reality offers opportunities and angles you’d never be able to invent. I’m sure there are geniuses like Stephen King, who can come up with anything, but the situations are usually based on something real. My hands were quite tied, because members of the Kalev team were categorically opposed to certain themes. The subplot of Kuusmaa and his wife is in the film because Kuusmaa was generous, and it wasn’t a problem for him to bring his family into the story. The question I have been asked most is why is there so little of Tiit Sokk, who was the main player back



then; I must say I was more intrigued by Kuusmaa, as someone who is more controversial with his conflicts, passion, and burn out. Hence, he and his family are more in focus. But it felt like nonsense to bring a gender balance in by force. It felt more honest to make a straight… I wouldn’t say, men’s film, but a film with men. It felt artificial to start creating storylines that didn’t exist. There are so many films and TV shows these days, where you can sense that certain themes carry only marketing value. It feels dishonest. And in the case of our story, it felt more truthful to keep that emphasis. Kalev is your debut feature film. You have directed a lot of ads, plays, and shows for television, and you’re a musician as well. Was directing a feature a dive into unknown waters for you, or did you feel at ease?

More like at ease, because I have directed short films too. Naturally, a feature-length film is a different form of cinema altogether, but I have experience with big projects and the amount of preparation with the accompanying tension is similar. I get it, the film industry despises television, but when I make a live TV broadcast, the tension is not less. These projects are very work-intensive too. For me, music videos are the place where I can let go completely.

It’s cool because I can pull out all the stops when I am making a music video for my own band. It’s the biggest creative freedom. I know it’s self-torture to make music videos for free, but I would recommend it to all the directors, because it helps you to hone your own skills and signature style. Kalev premiered internationally at Warsaw IFF, and is the Estonian nominee for the Academy Award in the Best International Film category. What do you think the experience will be like for foreign audiences?

When we started making Kalev, the initial idea was to do it with the local audience in mind. We wanted to bring the film out last year, on the 30th Anniversary of Kalev’s historical win, but COVID made that impossible. I think this story will be understood by audiences of our neighbouring countries, but the further away you get from the previous Eastern Bloc, the more complicated the story is to understand. Today when our Eastern neighbour is trying to overrun us all over again, the topic becomes relevant, and we understand that nothing has changed in 30 years. History repeats. Maybe the events of Kalev will be easier to understand, given the current situation. What I look forward to the most, is to sit at a screening with the audience and see how they react. EF

NEWS From the left: producer Tatjana Mühlbayer, actress Zhanel Sergazina, post-production manager Natalja Larina, producer Artur Veeber and actor Abylai Maratov.

Kim Ki-duk’s Last Film at PÖFF This year’s Venice film festival premiered a unique co-production between Estonia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan. Call of God was shown Out of Competition at La Biennale. It was the last project of the late South-Korean film director Kim Ki-duk, who spent the last months of his life in Estonia and died in Latvia in 2020 due to complications with COVID. By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Giorgio Zucchiatti (Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia) and Artur Veeber


all of God was shot in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in summer 2019. Before his sudden passing, the director had prepared the rough cut of the project and his colleagues had to finish the film. One of the producers of the film Artur Veeber says that the whole cast and crew were all shocked by the tragedy of Kim’s death. “People that worked with Kim kept asking about the film. So, after many

long and difficult discussions, we have decided to finish it. We totally understand the responsibility, since Kim Ki-duk films were always so-called auteur cinema. He always believed that the plot is the main element of a film. So we tried our best to follow each and every letter of his script. The biggest problem was the sound – the rough sound that had been recorded on the set; it had to be rerecorded completely. For creating the score, we invited the Estonian composer Sven Grünberg, with whom Kim was supposed to work on the next film,” explains the producer, who joined the project in the post-production phase. The final editing of the film was done by Lithuanian film director Audrius Juzenas, and editor Karolis Labutis. The sound designer is Sangam Panta from Nepal. Artur Veeber says that they did their best to bring to life the author’s vision using the material he had accomplished before he died. “In Venice we presented a film like a “Tribute to Kim Ki-duk” from his friends and colleagues. If Kim would be alive, of course, the film would be a little bit different, I think. But all of the original footage of the film was directed and filmed by Kim Ki-duk. The story and dialogue are the same as in the script.” Veeber and Kim had met in Berlin in 2004 when the director won the Silver Bear for Samaritan Girl. Later they accidentally met in Kazakhstan and Veeber invited him to Tallinn. According to the producer, Kim Ki-duk was planning to shoot his next film Cloud, Rain, Snow and Fog in Estonia. He did the location hunting and interviewed the cast in 2020. “But Estonian nature interfered: it started to get dark too early as the fall was about to change to winter. Therefore, it was decided to move the shooting period to spring of the next year. Meanwhile Kim wanted to travel for winter to one of the southern countries. But unfortunately he was infected and eventually died due to complications with COVID,” says the producer. Call of God will be screened at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and released in Estonia theatrically. The production of the film was supported by Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Avakademija from Lithuania and the Public Fund of culture “Altyn Anar” from Kyrgyzstan. EF ESTONIAN FILM



Rain Rannu’s new feature Free Money is in postproduction. The film is a comedy-drama that tells three loosely interconnected stories about money, crypto and the investment culture of the last few years, when investing has become a form of entertainment and every Mr Average is trading in stocks and coins.

Rain Rannu on the set of Free Money.

By Maria Ulfsak Photos by Alice Märtin


t’s an ensemble movie that follows three men - a brash crypto entrepreneur Maximillion, a straightforward programmer Taavi, and a conservative banker Erik – and their relationship with money. It is one of the first films that incorporates NFTs (non-fungible tokens) into the screening experience. According to the director Rain Rannu they are exploring a number of different mechanics how to do that. “One very simple one is that



there are QR codes in the movie that lead to hidden websites and web3 services with different “easter eggs” - almost like trying to recreate the excitement we had as kids when playing a computer game and discovering a secret hidden level. Some easter eggs could be exclusive artwork you can own, others could be free tokens you can claim. We imagine some of these to be visible on a cinema screen and available on a first come first served basis, while others require pausing the

movie in a VOD-environment. We imagine some perks to unlock immediately, while others a year, five years, or ten years later. All in all, we’re interested in adding an additional layer to the film for people who are already deeper into crypto, or why not, also for someone as their first web3 experience,” says Rannu. He adds that since they announced the film, the filmmakers have been approached by a number of people with very interesting ideas, which they are still in the process

Amanda Hermiine Künnapas in Free Money.

of figuring out what makes sense for them and what does not. “Our primary focus is still to make a great movie that can be enjoyed by a wide audience. So, it’s very important for us not to do anything that distracts from that. We’re very open to play around with different things, but anything we do should add to the experience, and not become the main thing itself. I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for most films. This particular film is unique in a sense that it’s about crypto, and it’s more logical for us to incorporate some of these technologies that the film talks about into the film itself, to compliment the experience. Similarly, my previous movie Chasing Unicorns was about start-ups, and we supplemented the film with educational interviews with top startup founders Ω and made it available

for free to compliment that movie’s experience,” says the director. Free Money was shot in Estonia and the United States from June to August 2022, with a total of 21 shooting days. The main actors are Miklós Bányai, Märt Pius, Ivo Uukkivi, Steffi Pähn, Amanda Hermiine Künnapas, and Mari Lill. Director Rain Rannu also wrote the script. The cinematographer is Ants Tammik, and the film is produced by Tõnu Hiielaid and Rain Rannu from the production company Tallifornia. The project will be released in 2023, having both a cinema release (in Estonia and possibly other countries, depending on sales agents), as well as a digital release worldwide. It is mostly financed by private investors and equity through the new Tallifornia Film Fund. EF Märt Pius in Free Money.

Our primary focus is still to make a great movie that can be enjoyed by a wide audience.

Miklós Bányai in Free Money.




The Film Awards Were Given Out The ceremony of the Estonian Film and Television Awards (EFTA) was held in September 2022 where awards for the best film and TV projects as well as the related professionals of 2021 were given out. By EFI Photos by Erlend Štaub




his year, 148 nominees in the field of film, and 113 nominees in the field of television, were submitted to the EFTA award competition. The award ceremony was broadcast live by Estonian Public Broadcasting, and in total 30 awards were given out, including 15 in the field of film, and 15 in the field of television. The jury of film and TV professionals selected the winners. Film director German Golub, winner of the Student Academy Award, was the chairman of the film jury of EFTA

Special Award winners Andris Feldmanis and Riina Sildos (Compartment No. 6).

Best Actress award went to Alice Siil. (Kids of the Night).

and the main organizer of the event is the Estonian Film Institute. The award of Best Achievement in Film Making Art went to the team of feature film Compartment No. 6. As the main production company behind the film comes from Finland, the feature did not classify for film awards in Estonia. However, the Estonian co-production team of the film that was awarded the Grand Prix in Cannes, and that had an Estonian co-production team – led by Riina Sildos and screenwriters Andris Feld-

The Best Director and Best Documentary award winner Rainer Sarnet (The Diary of Vaino Vahing).

The Best Feature Award winner Kadri Kõusaar (Deserted).

manis and Livia Ulman – was given the Best Achievement in Film Making Art award. Best Feature Film award went to Deserted, directed by Kadri Kõusaar and produced by Meteoriit LLC. The jury gave the Best Documentary award to The Diary of Vaino Vahing, directed by Rainer Sarnet, produced by Klaasmeri. Best Animation Film award went to ‘Til We Meet Again directed by Ülo Pikkov and produced by Nukufilm; the same film received the award of Best Film Artist that went to Anu Laura Tuttelberg. Best Short Film award was given to Mia and Liki, directed by Katrin Tegova and

produced by Tandem Film. Best Actress award went to Alice Siil for her role in Kids of the Night – also the Best Actor award was given to Peeter Oja for his role in the same feature. The jury gave the Best Film Director award to Rainer Sarnet for his documentary The Diary of Vaino Vahing. Best Screenwriter award went to Ewert Kivi and Mart Raun for their feature Kids of the Night. For his camerawork in Deserted, Sten-Johan Lill was acknowledged with Best Cinematographer award. Best Editing Director award was given to Ivar Murd for his work in documentary u.Q – and the same film also received the Best Sound Director award that went to Markku Tiidumaa. Best Sound Design award was given to Mati Uprus for his work in documentary The Gardener of Tension Fields. Best Costume Artist award went to Anu Lensment for her work in the tragicomedy Sandra Gets a Job. EF

The happy team of Best Animation Film award winner ‘Til We Meet Again.

Director Katrin Tegova and her team won the Best Short Film award for Mia and Liki.

Best Costume Artist award went to Anu Lensment (Sandra Gets a Job).




Mait Malmsten

Blessed & Wanted

Mait Malmsten is an actor at the Estonian Drama Theatre and one of the most sought-after film stars in Estonia. For him, 2022 has been an extraordinary year, as right after turning 50 he reached the screens as the main protagonist in the long-awaited feature film Kalev. By Andrei Liimets Photos by Viktor Koshkin and Herkki Erich Merila




he importance of Malmsten’s role in the sports drama Kalev, based on true events, is emphasized by opinions in the media that the title of the film should have been Salumets. Namely, Malmsten plays Jaak Salumets, a former top basketball player turned basketball coach whose role in Estonian sports is legendary due to his achievements as well as his harsh professional methods and a complicated nature. Salumets, having once represented the national team of the Soviet Union, became the head coach of the Estonian number one basketball team Kalev in the second half of the 1980s. The team made history by winning the final championship of the collapsing Soviet Union. However, the team had to run the gauntlet before becoming national heroes, since the nationalist wing considered the players as traitors during efforts to regain independence.

You have gained a lot of recognition for Jaak Salumets’s role in Kalev. How important are praise and feedback as well as criticism, both positive and negative, for you at the present moment in your career?

It would be wrong to say that it doesn’t matter to me. However, throughout the years I have developed thicker skin to protect me. I am not losing it when someone gives a really negative comment about my acting. Those commenters usually search for something else, and if the film or play lacks it then they will become disappointed. I am not investigating all criticism that is being written. What I come across, I read through. And in general, feedback is nice. What about compliments? Will you then feel pleased or will you try to balance it out in order not to become too lofty?

Of course one has to learn to dose it right. As for Kalev, I was sincerely glad to read the positive feedback, since the film was really important for me. I am myself a basketball fan and the event meant a lot for me. It made me happy to become a part of the filmmaking crew. But I also had numerous fears. For instance, how do we perform sports so that the audience would believe it? If the audience doesn’t believe the sports in a sports themed film, then no one will take you seriously, no matter how hard you play around with themes in the film. Fortunately everything turned out well – it has been a joy to read all the reviews and hear people’s opinions.



TALENT I was extremely happy that I could play Salumets! Were you sad that you could not play basketball yourself in the film? If you were younger, you could have taken the role of one of the players.

I was extremely happy that I could play Salumets! I enjoy playing basketball as a workout. It was a blessing to be in the role of a basketball coach – Salumets is such a great character, an extraordinary person. What was your meeting with Salumets like after the premiere?

It was good. Unlike me, Salumets had already seen the film before the premiere and I realized he was fine with everything he saw. We shook hands and had a short warm-hearted conversation. We did not meet professionally before filming since we had decided with director Ove Musting that the character will be based on Salumets’s public interviews. That we’d pick out elements characteristic to his personality and try to nail the protagonist. We were a bit afraid of having personal contact with him and receiving a tirade, that’s all. There was still one time that we met during a national basketball team’s game. A friend of mine introduced us. I suggested that we should not really go. But my friend pulled me along and showed me to Salumets, that ‘here, this is Malmsten who is going to play you in an upcoming feature film’. Then Salumets made a snappy remark that the film was probably not going to succeed. He was really distrustful, which is entirely understandable – you have one of the most significant moments of your life and what if the filmmakers cock this up? The film preserves the historical moment and



the future generations will remember the events accordingly. Thus the fears before filming were definitely grounded; but when the film was complete it was great to realize that there was no reason to be afraid, neither for me or him. How much responsibility did you feel? On one side, film truth and historical truth are two different things. On the other side, all the characters in the film are still alive, remember the events, and are able to comment on the film.

It was a big responsibility indeed. As I said, the real event was important also for me. Several former basketball players have distanced themselves from the film. They did not want to associate themselves to the specific story or fiction. Perhaps they were afraid of messing up things. This signals how significant the event was for many people. Is it important for you as an actor to love your character in some way? Or is it enough just to understand them? What kind of personal relationship do you have to have with your character?

Good question. Love or not, one definitely has to be an advocate, that’s for sure. Otherwise things won’t feel true, since you somehow justify everything for yourself. It is obvious that the character you play becomes your good friend, you become close to each other. The character is in a way your child, a part of you. Is there anything you learned about yourself or your life through this role? Salumets’ methods are not exactly endorsed by contemporary sports psychology. Then again, in terms of results, Salumets took the Kalev team into history books.

The tough way was the only way during Soviet times. There were no half-tones, it was the mentality of “all or nothing”. It would be impossible to act this way in today’s society, practitioners of such an attitude would

Photo Herkki Erich Merila

be immediately taken to court. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Present times may be too soft towards certain moments or attitudes, but during the Soviet era the situation was exactly the opposite, it was too brutal. I doubt whether Salumets was the most brutal one, not really. There were all kinds of tyrants back then. I believe that sometimes being harsh, self-confident, and strict is the only way, especially if you have to handle a crowd of men, everyone with their ego and perspective on things. It takes courage to manage all this, so being strict and harsh is the right thing. You mentioned the importance of this role, since the specific historical event meant a lot for you. Why is Kalev important for the younger generation, or for foreigners who lack a personal connection with the events?

Young people gain from the pure historical knowledge

According to critics, Mait Malsten’s role as Jaak Salumets is among his best works on the big screen.

– the absurd era we once lived in. It was such an idiotic, harsh and weird political situation. And on the other hand, today’s youth can see the conditions in which the athletes trained decades ago – there were no proper sneakers, no hot water. For today’s youth, it is good to know about how their fathers once lived. The film could offer today’s younger generation the feeling of gratitude for how much better things are today. Certain Soviet nostalgia is in the air even now, but the film clearly shows how complicated life was even for the topmost professionals.

I absolutely agree. I imagine that for an outsider, everything related to the Soviet era seems to be like a cartoon or an anecdote. The gravity, the grimness and the oddity of this time cannot be grasped that easily. As for timing, we were dealt a favourable hand, so to say. The filmmaking process kept postponing, ESTONIAN FILM



since the filming took place during the pandemic, and not everything went according to the initial plans. Looking back now, it appears everything happened for a reason. Whether there is an Estonian audience or a foreign one watching the film, there is definitely a moment of recognition, some kind of repetition of historical events that is extremely uncanny. The Estonian film industry is small, and many actors have said there are not too many roles to select from – one has to be satisfied when anything at all is offered. In the Estonian context, you are an extremely well-known and sought-after actor. Have you had plenty to choose from when talking about film roles?

Actually no. I have turned down not more than one or two roles for some reason. As a rule, a casting is held, and when you are selected then it feels great to do your job. To be part of filmmaking is a great blessing – and I have not received a screenplay so bad that it cannot be performed.



The human eyes have always had a special meaning in Ingmar Bergman’s works. Mait Malmsten says that he would love to play more in emotionally deep films that can be described as Bergman-ish.

Actor Marko Matvere with whom you play in the trilogy of Melchior the Apothecary has openly said in one of his recent interviews that he focuses on two things when choosing a role – first, one should have fun and secondly, the salary must be good. What is important for you when you are offered a role?

In all sincerity, the story in the film is the most important thing. All the rest comes afterwards. It would be great if I would get at least some money for playing the part. And definitely the film crew matters. Is there any role you feel especially proud of?

Right now it is of course the one I played in Kalev! Before that, I really enjoyed playing in Kertu (directed by Ilmar Raag). And I’d like to bring out that collaboration with Andres Puustusmaa has always been intense and great. Have you thought about directing a film yourself?

I haven’t. I’m afraid I’m not suited for creating an en-

tirely new world. But I enjoy looking for this new world with someone else. What about other creative ambitions that you have not had a chance to fulfil?

On the Big Screen

Ilmar Raag once asked me in an afterparty what kind of film I’d like to make. My answer to him as well as to this question: Bergman-ish. People, silence, talking, thoughts, passions, anxieties, desires. There’s been too little of that. My first memory related to you is an old quotation that goes something like “if Mait Malmsten had been born at least in Ireland, he would be an international A-list star” ...

I totally agree! (Laughs.) Have you thought about going abroad?

I believe that if one is internationally successful, then this is because we have done something right in Estonia. Why go to another country when there are so many great actors and filmmakers everywhere already. We

Class Reunion

have our own playground here, and we should turn it to our advantage. I have made a few casting videos and sent these abroad – and I got proposals to play stereotypes, either an Eastern European or a Russian man who for some reason speaks English.

So no regrets about not being in Tenet by Christopher Nolan?

Definitely not! I mean only if there had been a really big role – but these won’t be given to actors outside Hollywood. You come from a dynasty of actors. There’s an eternal discussion on how much depends on talent and how much on work. What makes a good actor in your opinion?

I have lived in a world of actors since childhood, as did both my parents. This has certainly been an advantage – I have had neither any illusions nor fears. You must have a great deal of self-confidence – that you will make it, and that you have something to tell other people. And you definitely have to work hard. EF


Mait Malmsten

Agent Sinikael


is currently playing in the feature film Kalev (directed by Ove Musting) that premiered at Warsaw Film Festival, and in the trilogy of Melchior the Apothecary (directed by Elmo Nüganen) to be soon available as a series on the Amazon platform. He is also starring in the family film Totally Boss (directed by Ingomar Vihmar) that will premiere in 2023. Biggest works in cinema: Agent Sinikael (2002, dir. Marko Raat) Knife (2007, dir. Marko Raat) Kertu (2013. dir. Ilmar Raag) Class Reunion 1-3 (2016-2019, dir. Rene Vilbre) Your Honor (2019, dir. Andres Puustusmaa) Melchior the Apothecary 1-3 (2022-2023, dir. Elmo Nüganen) Kalev (2022, dir. Ove Musting)

Your Honor

Melchior the Apothecary




Photo Liis Reiman

Lighting up the Black Ni Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival is about to kick off its 26th edition. With no obvious signs of a hangover from the 25th birthday party last year, the festival organisers come to the end of 2022 with pure minds and fingers crossed for something like a normal festival after several editions affected by the COVID pandemic. By William Smith


ut for all the challenges an A-category film festival and a massive cultural event might face, Black Nights goes from strength to strength: growing, improving and adapting. Festival Director Tiina Lokk put it this way: “Every year is the same and



every year is starting over. One thing that is consistent at PÖFF is that we grow. Growing is also both a blessing and a curse. The wheel of a huge vessel is hard to turn, and it takes time to turn as well. But we must take these opportunities to change with open arms.” From small beginnings, the festival has grown into an internationally re-

nowned showcase and meeting place for film. As this transition has taken place, the festival has always prided itself on perhaps being less stuffy and more agile than its peers at the top of the film festival hierarchy. This year, this pride is manifested in newly reconfigured and adjusted competitive and non-competitive programme sections: the central goal always being to find the very best ways to introduce the best of world cinema to PÖFF’s voracious audience. A NEW COMPETITION - CRITICS’ PICKS

The 26th edition of Tallinn Black Nights will introduce one new competition programme, Critics’ Picks, led by critic and programmer Nikolaj Nikitin. Critics’ Picks joins the established Official Selection, First Features, Baltic Competi-

It’s essential to our mission as a festival to create structures to introduce films of all shapes, colours and sizes to our audience.

Baltic Competition curator Edvinas Pukšta on PÖFF TV.

Black Nights Film Festival programming team in 2021.

many years included a number of internationally renowned professional film critics and theorists. It serves to highlight and celebrate a curated selection of powerful and artistically-outstanding works which might otherwise be overlooked in PÖFF’s broader programme. Critics’ Picks screenings will take place from November 17–25. Festival Director Tiina Lokk commented that, “The Critics’ Picks competition programme solves a challenge our programme team has seen for many years: brilliant arthouse films that are unfortunately often lost in the mix of our fast-growing lineup and large-scale international festivals. It’s essential to our mission as a festival to create structures to introduce films of all shapes, colours and sizes to our audience.” She added: “The critic programmers who have put together this new programme have succeeded in selecting some uniquely compelling and engaging features films. I can’t wait to introduce them to wider audiences this November.” Nikolaj Nikitin, head of SOFA School of Film Advancement and new Critics’ Pick programming team lead, brings in

Photo Aron Urb


Photo Liis Reiman

tion and Rebels with a Cause programmes. Critics’ Picks kicks off with 16 features in its first year – the inaugural selection includes ten world and three international premieres. Three films will screen out of competition, including a gala screening of Estonian co-production Call of God. Each film is handpicked by the festival’s programme team, which has for



Photo Saara Mildeberg


Winter wolves, including Nikolaj Nikitin of Critics’ Picks (centre).

several decades of experience as a curator, film magazine editor-in-chief, journalist and author. Nikitin commented on the Critic’s Picks selection that “I was not prepared for the level and quality of films we had to choose from – it was easy in a way but, in another way, incredibly difficult to make the final selection. It’s a huge pleasure to join the Black Nights family and it’s been an honour to help organise this competition for the first time.” For the first time, most programmes also have their own lead curators – with Triin Tramberg handling First Features, Edvinas Pukšta on Baltic Competition duty, Javier Garcia Puerto heading the Rebels programme, Helmut Jänes leading Midnight Shivers, and Tiit Tuumalu responsible for DOC@PÖFF. AN UPDATED BALTIC COMPETITION

The Baltic Competition, highlighting the very best and freshest films from the festival’s home region, has also seen a number of small adjustments – to better connect films with audiences, be they local cinema goers or international film professionals looking for homegrown talent. This year’s reconfigured programme includes non-Baltic directors leading Baltic co-productions, lining up with Industry@Tallinn and Baltic Event’s co-production market’s selection criteria and featuring films from Armenia, Iceland and Croatia. This year also features



It’s also wonderful to have several films in competition which have been developed in part through our programmes. only fiction and animation films, with Baltic documentaries stepping into the festival’s DOC@PÖFF strand. The 2022 Baltic Competition programme includes one world premiere and four international premieres, along with a host of previously critically-acclaimed releases. The competition will be opened by the world premiere of Lithuania’s The Poet and a screening of Estonia’s Kalev. Both hark back, from quite different perspectives, to pivotal moments in Baltic history, which continue to cast a long shadow over current events. Rebels and First Features competitions will continue to represent their respective niches – experimental works and fiction debuts. AN IMPRESSIVE OFFICIAL SELECTION

Coming back to the headlining act, the leaders of the wolf pack - the Official Selection lineup is stronger than ever in 2022. The films selected represent the diversity of geography, genre and theme present in this year’s refreshed competi-

tion programmes, with films coming from both renowned, multi-award-winning auteurs, and returning Black Nights favourites. It includes a record-breaking nineteen world and four international premieres. Festival Director Tiina Lokk commented, “I never stop being surprised by the quality of films we are able to present in the Official Selection. Again, we have a huge number of world premieres and it means a great deal to me and the festival that so many filmmakers – both the established and up-and-comers – trust us to introduce their new works to the world.” She continued, “It’s also wonderful to have several films in competition which have been developed in part through our programmes in Industry@ Tallinn & Baltic Event. Looking at the full lineup, I think the competition for this year’s prizes will be stronger than ever.” Israeli film will be in Focus in this year’s 26th edition, alongside a smaller Showcase of Brazilian cinema. The festival runs from November 11–27, 2022. EF


TV Beats Forum welcomes several knowledgeble speakers to discuss the burning topics in the series market.

Focusing on Resilience Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event (I@T&BE), the busiest business platform in the region for audiovisual industry professionals, welcomes participants in pre-Christmas Tallinn from 20th to 25th of November 2022. By Egle Loor Photos by Raul Mee, Janis Kokk and Lilli Tölp


ccording to Marge Liiske, the head of Industry@Tallinn& Baltic Event, the tendency over the last events is that people are eager to meet and network face-to-face. “Therefore, we will welcome people in Tallinn and focus on the networking part onsite. Nevertheless, professionals who cannot take a trip to Estonia can check out the projects, set up meetings and enjoy the conference program, panels and talks also online.” With the war in Ukraine, the soaring energy crisis, and a looming economic bubble burst affecting the distribution, exhibition and streaming sector, the European independent industry is potentially heading into a wide-reaching downturn.



“Thus, Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event, in its 2022 edition, will explore and seek solutions for how European independent and small production countries can most effectively address the impending crisis to soften and mitigate its effects. It will explore alternative production, financing, and audience engagement strategies, and take a hands-on approach to sustainability and greening, sharing best practices across the continent. The program will feature case studies and exchanges with industry leaders to reflect on their tools, strategies, and experiences from the last bubble a decade ago. The agenda will also aim to establish highly personalized formats between European creators and innovators to discover solutions for the industry’s ongoing challenges,” Liiske added.

The 21st Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event continues to present film and series projects and encourages business and networking.

The conference programme of the 21st Industry@Tallinn& Baltic Event includes highly appreciated features such as TV Beats Forum, focusing on getting TV series out there during challenging times, with insightful talks and case studies. Co-financed by the European Commission, Industry Innovation Forum Tallinn 2022 Sustaining Resilience and Foresight for Europe brings together executive-level policymakers, industry leaders, and innovators to explore, debate, and outline new policy and business framework for the audiovisual industry. The summit also takes a close look at sustainability and green production, the

key principles involved in creating magical films. The Capacity Building Seminar: sustainability in the audiovisual industry, organised by FIAPF, free of charge and open to everyone working or interested in environmental sustainability in the film and TV industry, will take a closer look at sustainability in European audiovisual sector. “Involving the sustainability mindset in filmmaking is growing on us quite fast. I@T&BE is a good place to get to know about the opportunities and technologies that we can use in future projects,” Liiske added. The programme also includes various roundtables, case studies and presentations on hot topics in the film industry, i.e. a panel on building a film community in exile organized in collaboration with Northern Lights Nordic Baltic Film Festival in Belarus, and a panel

ing people in person, but in addition to gathering in Tallinn, professionals who are not able to come to the event are invited to set up virtual meetings,” said Liiske. As this year’s focus country is Israel, I@T&BE welcomes a delegation of Israeli film professionals looking to network and present various film projects in its market section. In addition, there is a presentation and panel discussion featuring Israeli speakers. During The Black Nights Film festival, guests are welcome to enjoy a selection of Israeli films in the cinemas. BLACK NIGHTS DISCOVERY CAMPUS – NOT ONLY FOR TALENTS

taking a closer look at the current situation of Ukrainian filmmakers, co-organised by the Odessa International Film Festival and the Ukrainian Film Academy. FIRSTLY, A PLACE FOR BUSINESS

As for the last two decades, I@T&BE continues to be a good place for business. The programme includes market activities and one-to-one meetings for several project categories: Baltic Event co-production market, Works in Progress presentations with a special Ukraine Today section, Script Pool competition, TV Beats Co-Financing market, European Genre Forum, and MIDPOINT Series Launch and MIDPOINT Smash Cut. “We all know the high value of meet-

Besides market activities and conferences, I@T& BE focuses on continuing education with its Black Nights Discovery Campus - this year focusing on young actors and actresses, costume designers, composers, scriptwriters, directors and producers. Black Nights Discovery Campus gathers together established programmes like Music Meets Film, Black Nights Stars, Black Room and Script Pool under one umbrella, and presents various new talents in the region so film professionals could keep an eye on them. In addition to live events and workshops carried out in Tallinn by award-winning film professionals, available also online, the programme will provide various online courses by well-known mentors throughout the year. During this edition, Black Room attracts costume designers with workshops and case studies by renowned costume designer Manon Rasmussen who has designed film costumes for more than 85 feature films. Music Meet Film, primarily intended for film-scoring composers and filmmakers, welcomes composer William Goldstein as the main speaker. One of the expected highlights will be an Instant Scoring Concert at the Arvo Pärt Centre,

Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event 2022 hosts various talk on hot topics including the Capacity Building Seminar that will take a closer look at sustainability in European Audiovisual Sector.

where Goldstein together with local musicians will create a score for a film on site. For the second year, Music Meets Film hands out an MMF award designed to support and promote talented young composers from all around the world. Script Pool targeted at emerging scriptwriters-directors and producers, consists of different workshops, masterclasses, and fireside chats designed especially for their area of expertise. Fresh cooperation with the International Screen Institute brings three tailor-made workshops to the audience: how to pick the right sales company, tips on sales and distribution agreements, and how to design your festival strategy. Black Nights Stars presents eight talented actors from the Baltic Sea and Ukraine in a three-day program to support young actors on their journey into the international film industry arena. Actors will have meetings with international casting directors and talent agents, and participate in various workshops and panels, all designed to enrich them with new skills, contacts and information, that can give them access to new opportunities in their careers. The programme of the 21st I@T&BE, involving over 100 lectures, masterclasses and talks, takes a few steps closer to the future, as producers are invited to pitch against AI, film production management web app Yamdu presents the future of film production, and The Tallinn Narrative Planet Retreat discusses how to keep integrity during a crisis, and be a conscious and sustainable agent of change across all the audiovisual/media/ culture ecosystem. Check out the programme: 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 Budget 2022: € 5,500,000 • 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 18 and November 28, 2023 MINORITY CO-PRODUCTION Budget 2022: € 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: March 14 and September 19, 2023 • Decision in 40 days



FILM ESTONIA CASH REBATE Budget 2022: € 5,400,000 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 2023: € 150,000 Support intensity: up to 30% 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/LT/DE) CONTACT: Külli Hansen, VIRU FILM FUND Type of fund: regional, incentive / cash rebate • Budget 2022: € 150,000 • 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: Melchior the Apothecary (EE/LV/LT/DE), Omerta 6/12 (FI/ EE), 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 2022: € 21,000 • 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



Evil in Shorts The children-centred adventure drama The Sleeping Beast, directed by Jaak Kilmi, turned out to be a captivating surprise, giving me some anxiety and making me fight back the tears.


ith serious themes, the film breaks down barriers between dramas targeted at adult audiences and children’s films. The Sleeping Beast reveals the tension, feelings of guilt, as well as complicated moral dilemmas that threaten to permanently rewrite the protagonists’ coming of age stories. Director Jaak Kilmi has succeeded in telling the story with the help of young actors, and their improvisational performance leaves a true-to-life impression. Thanks to the diverse characters, the protagonists form a very natural and colourful crowd, where every member has the chance to excel.



Ink Big! The critics have done their job

However, when the story develops, the growing pains of the children start to unwrap: Loore has to take care of her sister, Siim is afraid of his father’s aggressiveness. One does not expect the gravity of the situation at the beginning of the film, where the children playing under the sun’s golden rays gives the impression of an entirely different atmosphere. The children’s gang led by Kristjan conquers the endless greenery, their idyllic playground. Based on their childish fairy tale like logic, they create adventures on the fly. Whereas the film starts by observing the joys of childhood with relaxed ease, the story subtly develops into increasingly dark and





The Sleeping Beast By Ralf Sauter First published in Postimees

On the Big Screen

tense dimensions. The children, full of curiosity, go to play in a deserted industrial area with prohibited access. There they encounter an old guard Elmar (Andres Lepik) who is coaxed into a trap. This way, the children perform an imaginary fairy tale where the monster stinking of vodka has to be imprisoned, yet the consequences turn out to be unexpected. Even if the adult characters of the film remain in the periphery of the story, the viewers can see Evelin Võigemast and Reimo Sagor as co-stars – their impersonal characters fixate the issues related to a neglectful upbringing. Due to the indifferent ways fathers mould their sons and mothers their daughters after their own personalities, the children’s gang in The Sleeping Beast will do something frightening. And regardless of the fact that a human life will be in danger, what happens must remain a secret. The seriousness of the story will truly shake those cinemagoers hoping to enjoy a funny entertaining film about children. The detailed screenplay by youth writer

Aidi Vallik detangles step by step the heartless behavioural pattern of the children, which develops into an unexpected rage. A convincing tension is formed among the children where Kristjan, who worries about Elmar in need of help, reminds one of Ralph in the novel “Lord of the Flies”. The film with its conflicts raises valuable questions about the evil characteristics in children, magnified by the parents’ methods of upbringing. The adults communicate with children indifferently, accusingly, even disgustfully.

The film with its conflicts raises valuable questions about the evil characteristics in children, magnified by the parents’ methods of upbringing.

The delicate camerawork, with a touch of nostalgia, by Elen Lotman reflects the curious yet frightened world view of children – this is well expressed by the shaken camera when adults come in sight; they are observed from the distance and from the children’s perspective. Such style conveys the difficult truth – the young protagonists see their parents as people whom they are afraid of rather than who can be trusted. Surprisingly, the warmest and most human light is saved for Elmar, whom the villagers consider to be a pervert. The darkly developed storyline of The Sleeping Beast plays well with the industrial building with a grey stone facade – the place the children use as their playground separated from the adult world. The scenes filmed in the old radio station building lend the film a slightly uncanny atmosphere, since the decayed building hosts a shabby piano that Kristjan toys with for a moment. This piano seems to express one of the leitmotifs of the film: what is left behind by adults will be picked up by children. The Sleeping Beast is an intelligent and sincere film where the evil is not presented without reason – the film discreetly tackles the dark corners of childhood, while alluding to trauma, violence and various secrets related to young age that may be recognized by several viewers in the audience. This is a story that requires empathy from its viewers, exploring the wrongdoings of childhood, as well as the desire to behave in the right way without breaking the seemingly unshakeable ties of friendship. And yet, the uncompromising drama won’t serve as a criticism. With this film, Kilmi offers clearcut material for the daily conversations between children and their parents. Hopefully, there is more benevolence in most parents than in those in The Sleeping Beast. The film turned out to be the most moving and exciting Estonian feature film that I have seen during the past few years. EF ESTONIAN FILM



MURDER MYSTERY in the Middle Ages Each year introduces some milestones in Estonian film, but Melchior the Apothecary clearly opens a new era in Estonian cinema.


e have the first franchise movie, although some call the Lotte children’s film series also a franchise, but not really in my opinion. The main reason is that Melchior the Apothecary succeeded in securing its international distribution on Ama­ zon+ before the domestic première. There were already three films produced and the trilogy will be in



Ink Big! The critics have done their job

cinemas in half a year. I’d say that the producers could already start with the fourth, fifth and even the sixth film, as they have hit the sweet spot, a genre that could be sold in Estonia and in the whole world. Melchior the Apothecary is obviously fine-tuned to hit as large segments of audience as possible, but the result is not a lean commercial “soup” but a shamelessly grandiose genre movie. One could have assumed that director Elmo Nüganen would stay within the limits of historical crime movies, but he moves boldly to the margins of a dark thriller, or even horror. Well, actually it cannot be called either, but the producers were not

Melchior the Apothecary By Kaspar Viilup First published in ERR

afraid to add some twists to the film. That in turn, gives the film quite a wide platform. On the one side, providing good entertainment in the evening after a hard day at work, as the sharpest edges are cleverly polished and opens up to the viewer quite easily, but on the other hand it is juicy enough to satisfy even the most demanding

fans of this particular genre. The producers have consciously taken a universal commercial angle, preserving at the same time a necessary uniqueness in order to be distinguished in the crowd. It would have been easy to tell the same story more traditionally, just running around in the Old Town of Tallinn, but director Elmo Nüganen gives the novels by Indrek Hargla a much more grandiose interpretation. Nothing is left unnoticed; each frame is dynamic and in motion. As for production, Melchior the Apothecary is one of the most well elaborated domestic films so far – and the sufficient budget has made it possible to produce a film according to the original ideas. Probably the high technical quality is also the reason why it was easy to break through with the film internationally. The Old Town of Tallinn, that is also cunningly elaborated with the help of the episodes filmed in Kuressaare Castle, looks wonderful, and no doubt there will soon be those intrigued to search and see the filming locations with their own eyes. There are places that one can recognize in Tallinn, but the movie magic works and melts it into Wonderland of Middle Age that does not exist in reality.

Melchior the Apothecary moves boldly to the margins of a dark thriller, or even horror.

The trilogy takes the viewers to Tallinn in the Middle Ages.

It must be mentioned that it was an unpleasant surprise to witness the unnecessary and raw computer graphics solutions in the film, mostly used in long shots depicting the Old Town. Of course, these technical solutions could add something to the atmosphere as a whole, but considering the vividness and vitality of the street, such digital postcards have a rather contrary effect. As a result, the real thriller started to remind me of a promotional commercial, which was definitely not the filmmakers’ aim. Melchior the Apothecary is based on the books of Melchior by Indrek Hargla. The film takes the familiar elements of the books as starting points, but already it is obvious in the first film that the filmmakers are more intrigued by creating a pseudo historic world

instead of one particular mystery story. That is also the reason why the main protagonist, the apothecary Melchior, a middle-aged family man in Hargla’s novel, is turned into a novice apothecary in his twenties. This, in turn, allows us to follow the development of the young man in the movie. The emphases is rearranged and the filmmakers start to tell a story evolving from one film to another. Considering this, it seems a little bit surprising how limited time the audience is given for getting acquainted with the film characters. Shortly after the beginning titles of the film the protagonist is already told to go and resolve the murder. It indeed gives an energetic start to the movie, but leaves too little time for character development. The personality of the pro-




tagonist is mildly formed during the film, but his character won’t get much depth. In general, in the first Melchior film the protagonist is not much more than an efficient Middle Age detective, lacking additional complex human features. Perhaps it is even irrational to expect some deeper character development from a genre movie, but the screenplay of Melchior the Apothecary would have needed it. Until the last second, the film is fully laden, there are dozens new episodical characters thrown into the action, some of them in order to cover the traces, some to enrich the picture, but as the story rushes forward at mind-boggling speed, the viewer is unable to keep up with the tempo. Perhaps the filmmakers have overestimated the impatience of the audience? Perhaps it would have been a good idea to drop the storyline of a murder and to concentrate on the development of characters instead. That would have coaxed the audience back to the cinema hall to follow the next adventures of already familiar characters. Despite of the schematic features of some of the characters in the first film, it is a pleasure to watch the passion of young actors. Märten Metsaviir plays the protagonist in such a natural way that it may be even forgotten that he is acting. At the same time, several of his older colleagues tend to overact while acquiring even some caricatural features. Metsaviir has understood his role extremely thorough-



The production design of all the Melchior films is made by Matis Mäesalu and his team.

ly, not requiring grandiose gestures and overacting – the protagonist wins over the audience with his stoicism and cool charm. At some point, even mysticism works for him – the viewers are left clueless what is underneath the mild cover of the young hero. It can be assumed that the mystery will be unwrapped in the next Melchior films. Young actress Maarja Johanna Mägi in the role of Melchior’s apprentice and assistant Gerke is even more enchanting. Whereas Metsaviir’s apothecary is an introvert, then Gerke is quite the opposite, simmering and energetic, sometimes even unpredictable. She has an ethereal effect in the robust world of men – sensitive yet strongly self-conscious, and someone who won’t be disturbed by the unravelling murder mystery. It may even seem that her role is quite unimportant in the light of other events; however, she adds a refreshing humane approach. For instance, at the moments when the turns of the criminal mystery become too mind-bending, the careless and even child-like Maarja Johanna Mägi is able to balance the atmosphere. There are more young talents involved in the production, and these are the people that largely created the movie. Melchior the Apothecary is carried by a youthful, fresh energy, and the audience won’t see too much of slow idling about; quite the contrary, everything is somewhat dynamic and fast. From the standpoint of

the franchise production, it has been quite a daring decision to introduce new faces, as the filmmakers seem to be certain that the film would sell even without the star actors. Even the poster of the film won’t show any familiar and acclaimed actors, who have usually starred in Estonian films, but perhaps because of such novelty Melchior the Apothecary has acquired a unique appearance. Although the epic of Melchior the Apothecary is still searching for its place, several elements in the story have not yet quite established themselves, and this imaginary world probably won’t be too easy to sell to all audiences, there is still a huge step taken towards a successful franchise. The filmmakers definitely succeeded in one thing: I felt wonderful while watching the film, nothing seemed artificial or useless. The result is the feeling that goes with watching the best cinema hits – when the viewer enjoys spending time with the film. I could easily watch the film again just one day after the screening, and it would not be an obligation but a pleasant pastime. And it is exactly that feeling which will coax the audience into the cinemas to watch the second, third, or even the tenth Melchior film. We have got a national film for ourselves that unlike the commercial comedies released during the past few years respects the audience. Let’s hope that the second and third part of Melchior the Apothecary will follow in the same direction. EF


Kalev Inspired by real-life events t is the summer of 1990. Soviet Union is on the verge of collapse and small Baltic nations struggle to regain independence. Society is divided, there is fear and turmoil on the streets as the Soviet Union`s basketball championship is about to begin. Estonian team Kalev has to make a difficult decision. Independence seemingly within reach, a rising tide of public opinion opposes the national team’s participation. As professional athletes they make an unpopular choice. Suddenly, the stakes are getting higher…..



DIRECTOR OVE MUSTING graduated from the Tallinn Pedagogical University with a BA in Audiovisual Arts. He has created award-winning short features and ads, music videos, TV shows and multicam live broadcasts. He is also

Ove Musting

a founding member of the band called Winny Puhh. Kalev is Ove`s first feature film. Awards: EFTA Winner/Special Programme 2019, EFTA TV Director of the Year 2017, PR Gold Baltic Best, PR Gold Golden Egg, Cannes Lion PR finalist TVC 2017.

Original title: Kalev Genre: drama Languages: Estonian, Russian, English Director: Ove Musting Screenwriters: Mehis Pihla, Ove Musting, Martin Algus Cinematographer: Rein Kotov E.S.C. Production Designer: Tiiu-Ann Pello Editors: Rein Kotov, Jaak Ollino jn. Composer: Mihkel Zilmer Sound: Matis Rei Main cast: Mait Malmsten, Reimo Sagor, Priit Võigemast, Mihkel Kuusk Producers: Pille Rünk, Maria Avdjushko Produced by: Allfilm (EE), Ugri Film (EE) International premiere: Warsaw International Film Festival Festivals: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Awards: The Estonian official entry for the Academy Award for the Best International Feature Film 95 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Allfilm Pille Rünk +372 508 2999




Erik Stoneheart


rik (11) is convinced he has a stone for a heart. That’s why he doesn’t mind that his parents have no time for him or that he has no real friends. When his family moves to a villa they inherited from aunt Brunhilda, he discovers another family living there – Maria (11) and her dad whom Erik’s parents want to kick out. When the family gets an eviction notice, Maria activates her secret plan to bring back her missing mother to save them. Together they end up on a fantastical journey to the In-BetweenWorld and Erik learns how hard it really is to wear a heart of stone.

DIRECTOR ILMAR RAAG born in 1968, is the writer and director of the most successful film ever made in Estonia – Class (2007), which was sold to 91 countries, was the Estonian candidate for Oscar nomination, won 25 awards from 70 festivals, and developed into a successful multi-awarded TV-series. Ilmar’s filmo­ graphy include Une Estonienne à Paris

Ilmar Raag

(Locarno FF, Estonia-France-Belgium, 2012), Kertu. Love Is Blind (Warszaw FF, 2013) and I Won’t Come Back (Tribeca FF, Nora Ephron Jury Special Mention, Estonia-Russia-Finland-Kazakhstan, 2014). Ilmar has an MA in Screenwriting from Ohio University and worked as a professor of Liberal Arts in Tartu University. Ilmar is also an acclaimed columnist in the biggest dailies, lecturer and a requested media consultant.

Original title: Erik Kivisüda Genre: fantasy adventure Language: Estonian Director: Ilmar Raag Screenwriters: Andris Feldmanis, Livia Ulman Cinematographers: Tuomo Hutri F.S.C., Ivar Taim E.S.C. Production Designer: Kari Kankaanpää Editor: Felix Sorger Composers: Kipras Masanauskas, Renars Kaupers (title song) Sound: Vladimir Golovnitski Main cast: Herman Avandi, Florin Gussak, Juhan Ulfsak, Laura PetersonAardam, Renars Kaupers, Jules Werner, Norbert Rutili, Nickel Bösenberg Producers: Riina Sildos, Paul Thiltges, Adrien Chef Co-producers: Uljana Kim, Vitaliy Sheremetiev, Roberts Vinovskis, Aleksi Bardy, Helen Vinogradov Produced by: Amrion Production (EE), Paul Thiltges Distributions (LU), Uljana Kim Studios (LT), Esse Production House (UA), Locomotive Studios (LV), Helsinki-filmi Oy (FI) World Premiere: International Young Audience Film Festival ALE Kino!, October 2022 Festivals: CinEast Film Festival, Youth and Children’s Film Festival Just Film 105 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Amrion Production Riina Sildos +372 504 8985 SALES Pink Parrot Media Tania Pinto da Cunha +34 62 945 9075 ESTONIAN FILM




Melchior the Apothecary. The Ghost


n the second film of the medieval crime trilogy, young detective-pharmacist Melchior has to solve a seemingly supernatural mystery. A town guard that saw a ghost of a young lady, falls to his death from a watch tower. A prostitute who was with him, drowns in a well, and an artist that was in love with this prostitute, also dies. A distorted corpse that is found in the river next to a monastery, gives Melchior the lead which guides him to the traces of a long-forgotten tragedy.

DIRECTOR ELMO NÜGANEN is an Estonian film and theatre director and actor. From 1992–2021, he was the artistic director of Tallinn City Theatre. His debut as a film director and screenwriter was Names in Marble in 2002 which held the number 1 title of admissions among

Elmo Nüganen

Estonian films until 2016. Nüganen’s filmography also includes Mindless (2006) and 1944 (2015). The latter became the country’s submission for the Academy Awards in 2015. With the Melchior the Apothecary trilogy, Nüganen continues his theme of historic films, based on best-selling and internationally acclaimed novels written by Indrek Hargla.

Original title: Apteeker Melchior. Viirastus Genre: historical crime thriller Language: Estonian Director: Elmo Nüganen Screenwriters: Indrek Hargla, Olle Mirme, Elmo Nüganen Cinematographer: Mihkel Soe E.S.C. Production Designer: Matis Mäesalu Editor: Marion Koppel Composer: Liina Sumera Sound: Horret Kuus, Henri Kuus Main cast: Märten Metsaviir, Maarja Johanna Mägi, Alo Kõrve Producers: Kristian Taska, Esko Rips, Armin Karu, Tanel Tatter, Veiko Esken Co-producers: Janis Kalejs, Lukas Trimonis, Philipp Kreuzer, Diana Mikita Produced by: Taska Film (EE), Nafta Films (EE), Apollo Film Productions (EE), HansaFilm (EE), Film Angels Productions (LV), INSCRIPT (LT), maze pictures (DE) International premiere: Cottbus International Film Festival Festivals: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 90 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Taska Film Kristian Taska +372 520 3000 SALES Global Screen +49 8924 4129 5500



Call of God. Tribute to Kim Ki-duk


nticipation of Love has settled in a heart of a young lady. The borders between dream and passion are very elusive. Life is full of physical deprivations and sensual pleasures and the deep meaning of that all is Love of course. The deeper the feeling the more intense emotions. Each girl dreams to meet her love one day. An experienced man is able to help her to discover the world of passion and senses, bring her to the «heaven’s gate» where the two of them will prevail. One can only imagine how many hearts were broken along the way to master the science of love. But the passion blinds and soon the man becomes a slave of young sensual body of a woman. The carnal knowledge makes the girl try to subdue her love object. Instant emotions bring pain and suffering to the lovers as well as to their relatives and friends.

Kim Ki-Duk

Will the young heroine manage to meet the expectations of the man she loved and make him happy… become the only one? Who will help her to find the right path? Maybe the mysterious voice on the phone? Or will it be enough just to wake up and realize that that was just a dream, just a dream. DIRECTOR KIM KI-DUK (1960-2020) South Korean film director and screenwriter, noted for his idiosyncratic art-house cinematic works. His films have received many distinctions in the festival circuit, rendering him one of the most important contemporary Asian film directors. His most known filmography includes Pieta (Golden Lion winner, Venice 2012), Arirang (Un Certauin Regards, 2011), 3-Iron (Silver Lion winner, Venice 2004), Samaritan Girl (Silver Bear winner, Berlin 2004).

FILM INFO Original title: Kõne taevast Genre: drama Languages: Russian, Kyrgyz Original footage directed and filmed by Kim Ki-duk Scriptwriter: Kim Ki-duk Final editing: Audrius Juzenas, Karolis Labutis Production Designer: Orozbai Absattarov Composer: Sven Grünberg Sound: Sangam Panta Main cast: Zhanel Sergazina, Abylai Maratov, Aygerim Akkanat, Artykpai Suyndukov, Seydulla Moldakhanov Producers: Kim Ki-duk (KR), Artur Veeber (EE), Tatjana Mühlbayer (EE), Nargiza Mamatkulova (KG), Darius Vaitiekunas (LT) Produced by: Kim Ki-duk Films (KOR), Estofilm (EE), Altyn Anar (KG), AVAKADEMIJA (LT) International premiere: La Biennale di Venezia 2022 Festivals: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 81 min / DCP / 1.66:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Estofilm Artur Veeber +372 5568 4239




Child Machine


-year old girl, vacationing with her parents in a remote bog, gets trapped in a secret bunker where an AI-startup is nearing the completion of a super intelligent AI. Both the girl and the AI want to escape. Child Machine is an AI-gone-wrong story that’s authentic, fun and interesting for all ages, made to be watched by young adults as well as their parents. The film is one of the first narrative feature films ever to contain real AI-generated visual effects, made using cutting edge AI technologies that have only been in existence for a few months. . DIRECTOR RAIN RANNU is an Estonian writer-director. His last feature Chasing Unicorns (2019), a comedy-drama about the startup world achieved critical and commercial success and became a cult classic in tech circles.



FILM INFO Rain Rannu

Before that, Rain directed the first Estonian narrative virtual reality short Beqaa VR (2018). His movies often touch upon the topic of technology and its effects on society, drawing inspiration from Rain’s own experience as a technology entrepreneur. Rain is currently in production with his fourth feature Free Money (2023).

Original title: Child Machine Genre: science fiction Language: English Director: Rain Rannu Screenwriter: Rain Rannu Cinematographer: Ants Tammik Production Designer: Krete Tarkmees Editors: Rain Rannu, Moonika Põdersalu Composer: Bert on Beats Sound: Markus Andreas, Aleksandra Koel Main cast: Johann Urb, Anna Elisabeth Leetmäe, Yulin Ng, Priit Pius, Ivo Uukkivi Producers: Tõnu Hiielaid, Rain Rannu Produced by: Tallifornia World Premiere: Youth and Children’s Film Festival Just Film, November 2022 97 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Tallifornia, Tõnu Hiielaid




insk, August 2020. Pasha and Yulia, a young married couple, leave the house at night and find themselves in the midst of the protests of the civilian population, which came out against the unfair presidential elections. Their walk turns into a hell, in which innocent people become victims of police brutality. During the 1,5 hours, the young couple’s life changes completely. The film was shot in a single take, without any cuts.

Boris Guts

DIRECTOR BORIS GUTS Graduated from the High Courses of Scriptwriters and Film Directors (VKSR) in 2012. Boris is known in Russia as an experimental filmmaker, a social activist who reveals the acute topics of society: poverty, racism, homophobia, AIDS. Filmography: Watermelon Rings (2016), Fagotto (2018), We Look Good in Death (2019), Minsk (2022), Deaf Lovers (2022)

Original title: Minsk Genre: drama Language: Russian Director: Boris Guts Screenwriter: Boris Guts Cinematographer: Daria Likhacheva Production Designer: Johannes Valdma Sound: Indrek Soe Main cast: Anastasia Shemyakina, Aleksey Maslodudov Producers: Katerina Monastyrskaya, Boris Guts, Vitali Shkliarov, Anastasia Gusentsova, Andres Puustusmaa Produced by: Leo Films International premiere: Cottbus Film Festival, 2022 Festivals: Film Festival Diritti Umani Lugano, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 81 min / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Leo Films Katerina Monastyrskaya +372 5901 9292 SALES WIDE Management Marco Urizzi FESTIVALS Matthias Angoulvant





Hit Big


it Big revolves around Marjaleena, a 60-year-old, boozed-up former beauty pageant star who left Finland for Spain’s Costa del Sol where she runs Bar Belle, once a popular spot for Finnish tourists, with her handyman Mikko. One day, they hear that Marjaleena’s husband, Worm, will be released after 20 years in prison and is planning a dream life with his cell-mate lover thanks to the stashed proceeds of a major heist. Feeling betrayed, Marjaleena sets off to get her share of the millions. DIRECTOR JUKKA-PEKKA VALKEAPÄÄ (b.1977) is a critically acclaimed and awarded Finnish film director. His debut feature The Visitor (2008) was developed at Cannes’ Residence du Festival and premiered in Venice. The film was awarded



Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää

with the prestigious Nordic Film and Best Cinematography Awards at Gothenburg FF in 2009. His second feature They Have Escaped (2014) premiered at Venice and Toronto. Dogs Don’t Wear Pants was selected to Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2019, and has screened at festivals such as Karlovy Vary, Busan, Fantastic Fest Austin and BFI London Film Festival.

Original title: Hetki Lyö / Suur noos Genre: crime, comedy Language: Finnish, Spanish, English Director: Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää Screenwriter: Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää Cinematographer: Meelis Veeremets, E.S.C Production Designer: Kaisa Mäkinen Editor: Mervi Junkonen, F.S.E Composer: Stefan Pasborg Sound: Micke Nyström Main cast: Outi Mäenpää, Ilkka Heiskanen, Johannes Holopainen, Jukka-Pekka Palo, Jari Pehkonen, Pääru Oja, Besir Zeciri Producer: Daniel Kuitunen Co-producer: Evelin Penttilä Produced by: Komeetta (FIN), Stellar Film (EE) International premiere: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2022 123 min / DCP / 2.4:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Stellar Film



atiss is way too young to be suddenly left to care for his partner’s nine-year-old daughter. A responsibility like this reveals Matiss’ true nature, inner demons and a lack of relationships based on pure love.


Stanislavs Tokalovs

DIRECTOR STANISLAVS TOKALOVS is a Latvian screenwriter, director and producer. He made his directorial debut in 2012 with the short The Shoe. His short drama A Little Longer received the Lielais Kristaps award for Best Short at the Latvian National Film Festival. In 2015, he made a documentary Mikhail Tal. From a Far. His feature debut film What Nobody Can See was released in 2017 and had its international premiere at Moscow International Film Festival.

Original title: Milulis / Kullake Genre: drama Language: Latvian Director: Stanislavs Tokalovs Screenwriters: Waldemar Kalinowski, Stanislavs Tokalovs Cinematographer: Oleg Mutu Production Designer: Laura Dišlere Editor: Stefan Stabenov Composer: Erki Pärnoja Sound: Matis Rei Main cast: Karlis Arnolds Avots, Paula Labane, Kristine Kruze Hermane, Vilis Daudzinš, Andris Keišs, Indra Roga, Gunars Abolinš, Elina Vaska, Regnars Vaivars Producer: Aija Berzina Co-producers: Evelin Penttilä, Vlad Radulescu Produced by: Tasse Film (LV), Stellar Film (EE), Avanpost Media (RO) International premiere: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2022 113 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Stellar Film




Reply to a Letter from Helga


n a remote fjord in 1940’s Iceland, a young farmer Bjarni and an aspiring poet Helga begin a passionate, forbidden affair, their emotions running as wild as the ocean waves that surround them.

DIRECTOR ÁSA HJÖRLEIFSDÓTTIR is an Icelandic writer and director, born in 1984. Ása completed a BA in English and French Literature in the University of Iceland and La Sorbonne - Paris IV Université, and worked for a while as a book critic for the Iceland National Radio before moving to New York City to pursue her true love, filmmaking. She graduated from the Columbia University Film MFA program in 2012 with her thesis film Ástarsaga (Love Story, starring Katherine Waterston), a 2013 finalist for the Student Academy Awards. Her award-winning first feature

Ása Hjörleifsdóttir

film The Swan premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is still touring the festival circuit as well as having been sold to several territories. (including the US; the film opened theatrically in NY and LA in August 2018, and was released on Amazon Prime in February).

FILM INFO Original title: Svar við bréfi Helgu / Vastus Helga kirjale Genre: drama, romance Language: Icelandic Director: Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir Screenwriters: Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir, Otto Geir Borg, Bergsveinn Birgisson Cinematographer: Jasper Wolf Production Designer: Drífa FreyjuÁrmannsdóttir Sound: Tuomas Klaavo Costume Designer: Eugen Tamberg Main cast: Hera Hilmar, Thor Kristjánsson, Aníta Briem, Björn Thors Producers: Skúli Fr. Malmquist, Birgitta Björnsdóttir Co-producers: Ivo Felt, Dirk Rijneke, Mildred van Leeuwaarden Produced by: Zik Zak Filmworks (IS), Allfilm (EE), Rotterdam Film (NL) World premiere: Iceland, August 2022 International premiere: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2022 90 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Birgitta Björnsdóttir



The Limits of Consent


he Limits of Consent is an interactive psychological drama about love, sex, and control which offers the audience choices so they can change the direction of the story. This branching storyline leads to nine distinct endings. The story follows Anna, a high-tech pick-up artist who helps awkward men to seduce lonely women in high-class bars on cold evenings in Tallinn. But Anna’s own love life is far from perfect; she is a divorcee, in therapy, and to make matters more complicated, she is having an affair with her therapist. When it comes to others, Anna can play the game of sex and love like a professional; she knows just what to say to manipulate anyone into doing what she wants. But she can’t seem to see what’s plainly wrong in her own love life. At a critical moment Anna loses

Michael KeerdoDawson

control of the game of love completely, at which point it is up to the audience to navigate her fractured psyche and see where it leads them. DIRECTOR MICHAEL KEERDO-DAWSON After a decade working in the British television industry (Yorkshire TV and later ITV) and with several credits as writer and director for independent film under his belt, including the award-winning short Hour After Hour and improvisational feature film Confession. Keerdo-Dawson moved to Estonia and began teaching storytelling and screenwriting at the Baltic Film, Media and Arts School. In 2022 he released The Limits of Consent his first film in a film in Estonia. Keerdo-Dawson holds two degrees, one in Dramaturgy and another in Literature, Visual Culture, and Film Studies and is currently pursuing his PhD in Audiovisual Arts.

FILM INFO Original title: Läheduse raamid Genre: interactive psychological drama Languages: Estonian, Russian Director: Michael Keerdo-Dawson Screenwriter: Michael Keerdo-Dawson Cinematographer: Diego Barajas Riaño Production Designer: Grete Rahi Editor: Karl Olaf-Olmann Composer: Mihkel Maripuu Sound: Mazin Helal Main cast: Karin Rask, Rain Tolk, Jaanika Arum, Jaanus Tepomees, Maria Paiste, Rasmus Kaljujärv, Rauno Polman, Liisu Krass, Kärt Tomingas, Roman Maksimuk, Priit Vainus Producers: Helen Räim, Katariina Rahumägi Produced by: Baltic Film, Media, and Arts School World premiere: Black Nights FF 2022 Rebels with a Cause Competition 100 min / DCP / 2.33 / 5.1 CONTACT Michael Keerdo-Dawson Baltic Film, Media, and Arts School +372 5300 6230




Poop, Spring and the Others


he film is about longing, friendship, love, family and fears. The adventures of the strange characters are spiced with Kivirähk’s warm and bold humor, weaving wittily together the children’s boundless and the living conditions of the modern world. The film is full of emotions, excitement and a bit of nerve-wracking, for both young and old viewers.

FILM INFO Original title: Kaka, kevad ja teised Languages: Estonian Directors: René Vilbre, Meelis Arulepp, Oskar Lehemaa, Mikk Mägi, Heiki Ernits Screenwriters: René Vilbre, Meelis Arulepp, Oskar Lehemaa, Mikk Mägi, Heiki Ernits Cinematographer: Raivo Möllits Production Designers: Meelis Arulepp, Heiki Ernits, Ivika Luisk, Sander Joon Animators: A Film Estonia, BOP Animation, Nukufilm Composers: Tõnu Raadik, Richards Zalupe, Jaanus Nõgisto, Sten-Olle Moldau Sound: Horret Kuus, Mattis Rei, Rasmus Lill Technique: 2D and 3D animation, stop-motion Producer: Kristel Tõldsepp Produced by: A Film Estonia To be released: Feburary 2023 70 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT A Film Estonia Kristel Tõldsepp +372 516 0399






ather and his son are losing the folkrace. In order to win, a boy turns himself into a car tire. Loosely inspired by the director’s childhood, Sierra pulls us into the surreal car racing world.

DIRECTOR SANDER JOON uses animation to create surreal worlds with a dash of humour. His films have previously travelled to festivals such as Annecy, DOK Leipzig, Ottawa, Go Short, Stuttgart, Fredrikstad, Kaboom, Supertoon, Animateka and GLAS. He has attended the Open Workshop artist residency in Viborg twice and is now teaching animation at the Estonian Academy of Arts, where he has received a master’s degree in Animation. Besides films he has animated a music video for Tommy Cash, participated in a popular commercial for Rick and Morty and has been a VJ to numerous events. Sander also worked as

Sander Joon

a 2D artist for the multi-awarded film The Old Man Movie (2019). His previous short Sounds Good (2018) won awards from Stuttgart, Fredrikstad, SUPERTOON and PÖFF Shorts. Sierra has been selected to more than 70 film festivals where it has won over 20 awards. It was the first Estonian film acquired by The Criterion Channel. Filmography: Velodrool (2015), Moulinet (2017), Sounds Good (2018)

Original title: Sierra Language: English Director: Sander Joon Screenwriter: Sander Joon Animators: Sander Joon, Henri Veermäe, Valya Paneva, Teresa Baroet Editor: Sander Joon Background artist: Hleb Kuftseryn Composer: Misha Panfilov Sound: Matis Rei Technique: 3D digital, 2D digital Producers: Erik Heinsalu, Aurelia Aasa Produced by: BOP Animation, AAA Creative World Premiere: Clermont-Ferrand International FF, January 2022 Festivals: Encounters, Uppsala, Melbourne IFF, Pictoplasma, GoEast, Odense, IndieLisboa, Fredrikstad, Calgary IFF, Animateka, Anibar, Short Waves, Glasgow Shorts, Riga IFF, Dresden, Animator, FEST, Buster, Cinekid, Regard Awards: Palm Springs ShortFest – Best of the Fest (Oscar-qualifying), San Francisco International Film Festival – Best Animated Short (Oscar-qualifying), Ottawa International Animation Festival – Audience Award, GLAS – Audience Award, Animafest Cyprus – Grand Prix, Animatricks – Grand Prix, Cinema Jove – Best Short Film, Viborg Animation Festival – Best Short, Turku Animation Festival – Best Professional Film, Audience Award, Fantoche – New Talent Award 16 min / DCP / 16:9 / 5.1 CONTACT AAA Creative Aurelia Aasa +372 5568 1287 SALES Square Eyes Wouter Jansen New Europe Film Sales +48 88 216 5221







oud barking wakes Cynosephaly – the whole flat is trembling. His flat is hungry and demands food. Another regular day of Cynosephaly’s life is just about to begin. He takes his case and drives to the local barn, meeting all kinds of surreal creatures on its way. Coming home he finds the flat quite hungry and mad, barking at him and on the Catmoon shining in the sky. Finally, he pours the frankfurters into the sink, the flat gulps them with pleasure. All is well – flat is full and quiet. Cynosephaly opens the window, has the last cigaret of the day, pours himself a glass of brandy and relaxes. DIRECTOR PRIIT TENDER was born in 1971 in Tallinn, Estonia. He is an Estonian animator – the director, designer and writer of many animated short films. His first job was as one of the artists for Priit Pärn and Janno Põldma’s



Original title: Koerkoerter Language: Estonian Director: Priit Tender Screenwriter: Priit Tender (based on Andres Ehin’s poem) Cinematographer: Ragnar Neljandi Production Designer: Priit Tender Animator: Märt Kivi Editors: Priit Tender, Ragnar Neljandi Technique: stop-motion Producer: Kerdi Oengo Produced by: Nukufilm World premiere: DOK.Leipzig Festivals: PÖFF Shorts 14 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1

Priit Tender

film 1895 (1995). His debut as director came in 1996 with the film Gravitation. He has made several films after that both in drawn and puppet animation techniques and his author films are driven by surreal imagery, black humor and dark existential journeys. Priit’s films have won prizes and nominations from the most important short and animation film festivals, including Annecy, Ottawa, Hiroshima, Dresden, Fredrikstad, Utrecht.

CONTACT Nukufilm Kerdi Oengo +372 516 3833

3rd Octave F



rd Octave F is a daring and stylized opera-western that tells the story of a broken family, revenge and standing up against injustice towards women. As Mario, a bit shortfused but righteous outlaw, gets out of prison, his only wish is to get back home to his mother and sister Ada. It’s not long until life drags him into trouble again. Witnessing a woman being attacked, Mario is forced to pull his gun on the perpetrator, leaving the man with just one hand. The Sheriff hears about Mario’s deed and sets off to catch him. The Sheriff couldn’t care less for the woman attacked or the man whose hand Mario just shot off. He wants Mario in order to revenge his father once and for all. At home, Ada gets the word that Mario is on the train on his way home with the Sheriff after him. Ada must act quickly to get Mario off that train before the Sheriff does. Luckily, she has a motorcycle and her voice to help her. Can Ada reach the right note to stop a train and disarm even the most brutal of men?

DIRECTOR EEVA MÄGI 3rd Octave F is Estonian director Eeva Mägi’s third short fiction after County Court and Wednesday which both were presented at PÖFF Shorts 2021. In 2015, she graduated from Baltic Film & Media School’s Directing Documentary Masters program. Since then she has also directed succesful short docs such as The Weight of All the Beauty (2019) which was longlisted to the Oscars after winning Best Short Documentary at Melbourne

Eeva Mägi

International Film Festival and Lembri Uudu (2017) that had it’s premiere at DOK Leipzig. In 2018, Eeva received the Young Filmmaker’s Award from Cultural Endowment of Estonia. Currently she is in post with her first feature doc From Mari with Love and in finishing up development with her first fiction feature Werewolf which was selected to Tallinn Black Night Film Festival’s Industry event Script Pool 2021 and won a pitching prize in Tblisi IFF Industry Days.

Original title: 3. oktavi F Genre: opera-western Language: Estonian Director: Eeva Mägi Screenwriter: Eeva Mägi Cinematographer: Sten-Johan Lill E.S.C. Production Designer: Allan Appelberg Editors: Jette Keedus, Sten-Johan Lill Composer: Tanel Kadalipp Sound: Tanel Kadalipp Main cast: Triin-Eliis Süld, Ekke Hekles, Tambet Tuisk Producer: Kristofer Piir Co-producers: Alvar Kõue, Raido Toonekurg Produced by: Allfilm World premiere: Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur Festivals: PÖFF Shorts 17 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Allfilm Kristofer Piir +372 502 0843




Drifting Apart


hen Vera goes to the Soviet astronauts’ holiday resort to treat her astronaut husband Alexei, the summer idyll gets shattered by the suspicion about her husband, the suspicion which invades Vera’s soul secretly. Drifting Apart is a story of fragile trust, the breaking of which may be invisible.

DIRECTOR REBEKA RUMMEL (1995) is a young and aspiring director from Estonia. She graduated Film Directing BA from the Baltic Film and Media School in 2017. Additional to her BA studies Rebeka has studied in several directing workshops, including Cristian Mungiu’s master class in 2018 in Bologna and been part of Venice Days 28 jury. Rebeka’s filmography includes Säde that screened at Camerimage Short Film Section (2017), Julius that premiered at PÖFF Shorts (2020), and Death of the Clerk at UNICA (2018) where it also won



Rebeka Rummel

the Gold Medal. Rebeka’s other films have been recognized at the Best of BFM program for Best Short Film, Best Actress, Best Sound Design and Best Production Design. Rebeka’s films are an observation of human soul exploring themes like trust, guilt and letting go. Her work is distinguished by a strong philosophical concept, the precision of the camera work and powerful acting.

FILM INFO Original title: Triivides kaugusse Genre: drama Language: Russian Director: Rebeka Rummel Screenwriters: Rebeka Rummel, Kaur Kokk Cinematographer: Peter Kollanyi Production Designer: Jaanika Jüris Editor: Moonika Põdersalu Sound: Aleksandra Koel Main cast: Yulia Aug, Igor Rogoatchov Producer: Elina Litvinova Produced by: Three Brothers World premiere: PÖFF Shorts 20 min / 16mm / DCP / 1.66:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Three Brothers Elina Litvinova +372 5691 3377




oyogi is a place of freedom and going beyond everything human. Like the first flight to the sky. This film combines two strange and seemingly overlapping peculiarities. On the one hand, there is a distant, almost scientific in its dryness, observation of ordinary scenes of people’s life in the park, on the other hand, a feeling of some kind of magic and the impossibility of what is happening.

Max Golomidov

DIRECTOR MAX GOLOMIDOV was born in 1984 in Estonia, Tallinn. Now based in Japan, Tokyo. He graduated from the Baltic Film and Media School in 2008 with a degree in Cinematography. Filmography: On Rubik’s Road (2010, cinematographer), Anthill (2015, cinematographer, co-director), Close Relations (2017, colour correction), Hippodrome (2022, cinematographer), Yoyogi (2022)

Original title: Yoyogi Theme: observational documentary Language: no dialogue Director: Max Golomidov Screenwriter: Max Golomidov Cinematographer: Max Golomidov Editor: Dmitrii Kalashnikov Composer: Yuma Koda Sound: Dmitrii Natalevich Producer: Volia Chajkouskaya, Ivo Felt Co-producer: Yu Nakajima Produced by: Allfilm (EE), Volia Films (EE/BY), Kofuba (JP) World Premiere: Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival 2022 Festivals: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2022 73 min / DCP / 2.39:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Allfilm +372 5781 1727 /




Elusive Landscapes


he main characters in the documentary film Elusive Landscapes include Pille, Felix, Father Agaton, Hellat and Kateriina, who all live in Western Estonia. Pille, whose last surviving close relative is her daughter living in Finland, attempts to farm sheep alone while defying old age. Felix is worried about bees. Beehives remain empty, bee colonies are dying out, queens are not laying enough eggs for the new generations to hatch. Fields are being poisoned and primaeval forests are being clear-cut. Father Agaton serves small local Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church congregations, performs blessings, and administers Communion. The Estonian Defence League member Hellat and his daughter Kateriina look for silver, which is supposedly buried in the ground. Legend has it that Vikings reached the local seaside villages through a place called Neidsaare, through the reed turfs of the shallow bay. DIRECTOR SULEV KEEDUS was born on July 21, 1957 in Estonia. He graduated from Tallinn Pedagogical



Sulev Keedus

University in 1979. In 1989, he completed the High Courses for Scriptwriters and Film Directors in Moscow. Since 1983 he has been working as an independent filmmaker. His documentaries and feature films have received recognition and won awards at many domestic and foreign events over the years. Selected filmography: In Paradisum (1993), Georgica (1998), Somnambulance (2003), A Family (2004), Jonathan from Australia (2007), Letters to Angel (2011), The Russians on Crow Island (2012), War (2017), The Manslayer. The Virgin. The Shadow (2017)

FILM INFO Original title: Neidsaare hoo peal Theme: observational, rural living, environment, religion Language: Estonian Director: Sulev Keedus Screenwriter: Sulev Keedus Cinematographer: Sulev Keedus Editor: Kaie-Ene Rääk Sound: Seppo Vanhatalo, Mart Kessel-Otsa Producers: Olari Oja, Erle Vaher Produced by: Q Film World Premiere: Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2022 83 min / DCP / 1.85:1 / 5.1 CONTACT Q Film Erle Vaher +372 509 7723 Parrot&Stick Olari Oja +372 5866 5583


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