I Was Here examines troubled youth
by Theodore Schwinke
The film, directed by René Vilbre, is screening in the East of the West competition at Karlovy Vary. Ilmar Raag (The Class) adapted the screenplay from Estonian author Sass Henno's 2005 novel. Sildos is already in communication with Henno about a sequel.
The book immediately captured filmmakers' attention upon release. Sildos had read the book and found it to be "the strongest novel published [in Estonia] in 10 years". At the same time, director Vilbre also read the book and wanted to make a film of it. Eesti Televisioon bought the rights with the intention of making a TV series. Sildos acquired the rights from Eesti Televisioon.
Rasmus Kaljujärv gives a moving performance as a teenage drug dealer who dreams of one day becoming a doctor. Kaljujärv's character walks a fine line between innocence and wisdom, violence and tenderness.
"There is a whole generation of people among us whose life experience is totally different from their parents'," Vilbre said. "Parents focus selflessly on their careers, leaving no time left for themselves, their children and the family."
The film, made for just under €600,000, is a co-production between Sildos' Amrion Production and Helsinki Filmi of Finland, in association with Eesti Televisioon. Further support comes from the Estonian Film Foundation, MEDIA, i2i Audiovisual, Estonian Cultural Endowment, the Cultural Ministry of Estonia and Finnish Film Foundation.
The release will be supported by an Estonian anti-drug group which is funding a EEK 500,000 campaign. Sildos plans to release the film September 12 in eight copies – the largest release ever for an Estonian film.