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BLACK NIGHTS 2017 Industry

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Baltic Event shows a strong line-up of works in progress

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- Tallinn’s Baltic Event co-production market presented a uniformly intriguing selection of films, mostly in their final stages of post-production

Baltic Event shows a strong line-up of works in progress
Director Tomas Vengris and producer Uljana Kim pitching Motherland, from Lithuania

Ten film projects, most of them ready to discuss sales and festivals, and some in need of their last bit of extra funding, were presented to an international audience of industry professionals at Baltic Event this year. Estonia had the most significant presence, with five films, largely due to the fact that three out of those five are being completed as part of the Estonia 100 project, and all three are debuts – Moonika Siimets’ The Little Comrade tells the story of the Soviet occupation, seen in a darkly comical manner through the eyes of the protagonist, six-year-old Leelo. The first feature by Kaur KokkThe Riddle of Jaan Niemand, is a new twist on the Kaspar Hauser story, set in the 18th century and focusing on a man who, having lost his memory, has to redefine himself, and his relationship with his former self and the world. The third debut, Take It or Leave It by Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo, explores the fate of a new-born child unwanted by its parents, and the scarred dynamic of a family unit forced on young people by necessity. The Estonian selection was rounded off by a high-profile and comical full-length animation, Captain Morten and the Spider Queen by Kaspar Jancis, and a noir psychological drama, Scandinavian Silence by Martti Helde.

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Kaarle Aho, the producer who ended up winning the main award at the co-production market, presented a journey into the art world called One Last Deal, about an art dealer who senses a huge opportunity, but the reality turns out to be trickier than he first thought. The film will be directed by renowned filmmaker Klaus Harö

The pitching session was rounded off by four projects from the other Baltic countries, Latvia and Lithuania, which had two films each to present. Two of these were historical – the bleak and emotive The Mover (by David Simants) from Latvia takes us back to World War II, when a man called Žanis Lipke managed to save a number of Jews from annihilation. The Lithuanian title Motherland by Tomas Vengris takes place in the more recent past and looks at the tumultuous events of the 1990s and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Two contemporary films dissect family problems – an eccentric music producer has to survive a fierce custody battle in Nothing Can Stop Us Now by Andris Gauja, and a fragile family is put under severe pressure by a new, adopted child in Giedre Beinoriute’s drama Breathing into Marble.   

This year’s works in progress showed great versatility and promise. Half of the projects – Captain Morten and the Spider QueenScandinavian SilenceOne Last DealBreathing into Marble and Motherland – passed through the Baltic Event co-production market in previous years, with the latter being the first-ever winner of the Eurimages Award in 2015.

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