Producers on the Move 2010 - Estonia
by Annika Pham
Anneli Ahven has been working for the last 15 years for Exit Film, one of Estonia’s most established production companies. From 2000-02, she took a post-graduate course in film production at the University of Hamburg. She produced the local box office hit Men at Arms (2005) and Shop of Dreams [+see also:
film profile], which was Estonia’s Oscar submission in 2005; and was co-producer of Jukka Pekka Valkeapää’s The Visitor [+see also:
Cineuropa: How do you feel about being a Producer on the Move in Cannes?
Anneli Ahven: This is a great opportunity to be in focus with projects from Estonia. I have already collaborated with previous European Producers on the Move so this gives a new angle for co-producing future projects together. I do hope to find new partners and – to be honest – to find international financing for my projects.
You’ve been at Exit Film since 1995. What have you learned over the years and what films are you most proud of?
The most formative year was actually 2004, when I produced my two first feature films almost at the same time: Peeter Urbla’s Shop of Dreams and Men at Arms by Kaaren Kaer. The former was a "big” film by Estonian standards, the latter a low budget feature of €100,000. I am very proud of both films.
The most heart-warming feature is my latest one, Ain Mäeots’ Taarka [+see also:
film profile], because of the ethnographic aspect, and the fact that my own family is of Seto origin, the ethnic group depicted in the film. It was a kind of an honour to produce the first Seto feature ever. I am also very proud of my feature-length documentaries that premiered just couple of weeks ago in Estonian cinemas: Time is Here by Marje Jurtsheko and 7 Etudes in Pictures by Marianne Kõrver.
There is very little money for film production in Estonia. How do you keep going?
It’s not easy. I try to work on projects of different sizes and ambitions, and develop good stories so when the economy recovers I have great scripts ready to go. We welcome production services and would like to keep working in the field in which we are professionals – making movies.
Tallinn will be the European Capital of Culture in 2011. How are you preparing for this special event?
One of the projects that will go into production this fall is Routine Repairs by Hardi Volmer, a love story set in old Tallinn during the last century. This film is very much connected with Tallinn being the Capital of Culture in 2011 but also during the last 100 years. We give a humorous lecture on the history of Europe, with an Estonian girl right in the middle.
What other projects are you working on?
I have a warm small film about solitude and friendship between three funny old men called A Friend of Mine, by Mart Kivastik. The film is in post. I am also preparing a co-production, Ain Mäeots’ Demons, an attempt to treat gambling and casinos from the viewpoint of three very different gambling addicts.
I am working on financing Peeter Urbla’s new project, entitled Night Pilots. Many years after WWII an ancient warplane still takes off once a week from a rocky Arctic island, with a fully armed bomb in its bay, and flies over sleeping Europe. It will focus on three men’s survival under extreme circumstances. We’ve been working a long time on this project and I feel the right time has come for this story.
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