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Industry Report: Produce - Coproduce...

Possibilities and opportunities for the international co-operation in Estonia

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Possibilities and opportunities for the international co-operation in Estonia

- Lead by Alan Fountain, EAVE Chief Executive/Head of Studies, EAVE put the spotlight on Estonia during a special Estonian Panel. Raivo Palmaru (Estonian Ministry of Culture), Marge Liiske (Estonian Film Foundation), Ilmar Raag (Estonian Cultural Endowment), Kristo Tohver (Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival) and Riina Sildos (Baltic Event) presented the Estonian audiovisual landscape as well as the possibilities and opportunities for the international co-operation in Estonia.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Raivo Palmaru, Estonian Minister of Culture, cordially welcomed the producers in Estonia and wished them a lot of success with their films. The task of the Estonian Ministry of Culture is to make sure that necessary and favourable conditions, both legislative and financial, are created for the functioning of culture. The principles of state cultural policy are worked out in co-operation with the Ministry of Culture, cultural institutions, experts, the third sector and local and county government representatives. The Estonian Ministry of Culture also supports international co-productions and film distribution in Estonia with an annual budget of 600,770 Euro (2006).

Marge Liiske, Director of the Estonian Film Foundation (EFF), gave a short overview of Estonian film from an institutional point of view and introduced some basic facts and figures about Estonia. Population of 1.3 million is living in the area of 45.227 square kilometres. Major cities are Tallinn, Taru, Narva and Pärnu. Largest ethnic groups in Estonia are: Estonians 68%, Russians 26%, Ukrainians 2%, Belarussians 1% and Finns 1%.

Marge Liiske also shortly presented Estonian film history: first national documentary was produced in 1912 (state financing support involved since 1913), first short feature in 1914, first animation in 1931. Eesti Kultuurfil was created in 1931 (state financed since 1936). Estonia was occupied in 1940 (nationalization of film studios). From 1947 to 1997 state financed film production studio Tallinnfilm produced 116 full length and 28 short feature films, 194 animation films, 504 documentaries, 417 popular science films, 1578 newsreels (no feature films after 1994). In 1989, 4 full-length features, 3 shorts, 10 animations, 14 documentaries and 24 chronicles were produced. State driven film production was slowly replaced by independent producers with limited resources in 1990ies. In 1996, absolute freezing point occurred with not a single feature film released.

The Estonian Film Foundation (EFF) was established in 1997 by the Government of Estonia as a private legal institution with the task of financing Estonian film production, establishing and developing international film contacts, promoting Estonian films at home and abroad, supporting the training of Estonian filmmakers and audiovisual professionals, creating and maintaining Estonian film databases. EFF is financed from the state budget. The EFF budget for 2006 is 2.85 million Euro to be used for financing the national film production, including feature films, shorts, animation, documentaries and script development. The budget of Estonian Ministry of Culture for international co-productions and film distribution in Estonia for 2006 is 600,770 Euro. The budget of Cultural Endowment of Estonia for film production, training, publications and events for 2006 is 1.33 million Euro.
In 2005, 6 full-length feature films were produced, 5 short features, 40 documentaries and 6 animation films, from which 1 full-length animation film. Marge Liiske observed that Estonian films had strong public support, but not a single feature film had returned its production costs. Estonia ratified the European Convention in Cinematographic Co-Production in 1997. Half of documentaries and almost all feature films were co-productions, mostly with neighbours (Finland, Latvia, also Germany and Russia).
Estonian Film Foundation represents Estonia at international film festivals and markets. EFF operates under the auspices of the Estonian Ministry of Culture. Estonia is a member of European Audiovisual Observatory, MEDIA Plus (2002) and Eurimages (2004).

Ilmar Raag briefly introduced the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, the second main financing body, whose purpose is to support arts, folk culture, physical fitness and sports by the purposeful accumulation and distribution of funds in the form of grants. Resources come from a percentage of the state budget, annually collected from the alcohol and tobacco excise tax, gambling tax and the Endowment’s own activities. The Endowment creates an opportunity to also support cultural activities outside state cultural organisations, giving support to private bodies, NGOs and individual artists and projects. The budget of Cultural Endowment of Estonia for film production, training, publications and events for 2006 is 1.33 million Euro.

Kristo Tohver presented Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (BNFF), an international film festival founded in 1997. Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival is a unique event combining several simultaneous film festivals and events – main programme, Animation Film Festival “Animated Dreams”, Children and Youth Film Festival “Just Film”, Sleepwalkers’ Student Film Festival and for industry professionals a film and co-production market “Baltic Event”.
The festival aims to present Estonian audiences a comprehensive selection of world cinema in all its diversity with the emphasis on European films, providing a friendly atmosphere for interaction between the audience, Estonian filmmakers and their colleagues from abroad. In nine years, the small event with 28 films and 7 participating countries has expanded into more than two weeks of celebrating cinema where up to 500 films of different formats, genres, lengths and techniques from 60 countries are presented to nearly 50.000 viewers each year. During the past nine editions of BNFF 2.376 films have been presented.
The festival is a member of European Coordination of Film festivals EEIG, CentEast – The alliance of Central and Eastern European Film festival, and NETPAC – the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema.

Riina Sildos, Managing Director of the Baltic Event , shortly introduced Baltic Event, which will take place for the fifth time this year. Baltic Event also includes a Co-Production Market, where projects from the newest members of the European Union, Russia and Scandinavia are represented. In the centre of the Co-Production Market are one-to-one meetings between project representatives and potential financiers that are set up in advance by the market organisers. Participation in the Baltic Event Co-production Market gives the producers an efficient possibility to create or to extend their international network. Riina Sildos invited the producers to return to Tallinn and to discover recent film production from the Baltic countries, discuss co-production possibilities and be a part of the special festival atmosphere created by Baltic Event and Tallinn Black Night Film Festival.
Baltic Event consists of the following sections:
Screenings: the newest features from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are screened for international TV and film professionals – invited are sales agents, distributors, TV buyers and festival directors.
Coming Soon: program introducing film projects under development and in production with the purpose to meet the requests of the co-financiers and distributors to see the projects in their early stage.
Co-Production Market: projects from the newest members of the European Union, Russia and Scandinavia are represented. In the centre of the Co-Production Market are one-to-one meetings between project representatives and potential financiers that are set up in advance by the market organisers.

Project criteria for Baltic Event Co-production Market:
- full-length cinema feature film
- suitable for an international co-production
- national support in place
- completed screenplay in English
- projects from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria

The third edition of Baltic Event Co-production Market will take place on December 2-6, 2007. Participation in Baltic Event Co-production Market gives the producers an efficient possibility to create or to extend their international network. Baltic Event has become an efficient working market not only for Baltic region, but also for Scandinavia and Central Europe as well as Russia.

Baltic Event is also one of the partners of EAVE and 1-2 EAVE projects each year are selected for Baltic Event. In 2006 the selected projects are: Whistleblower, produced by Karin Björk (Filmkreatörerna, SE) and The Symbiosis Project, produced by Erik Magnusson (Rock’n Roll Films, SE).

 

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