Producer on the Move 2007 - Estonia
by Catherine Buresi
Riina Sildos started her career as a film critic for the Estonian Broadcasting Company. She joined Estonian Radio in 1994 where she was senior editor, and then programme director until 2000, when she was appointed managing director of the Estonian Film Foundation, the main film financing body in Estonia whose budget rose by 80% while she was in charge.
In 1998 Riina was one of the founders of the Tallinn International Film Festival – the Black Nights Film Festival, which in 8 years has become one of the leading festivals in the Nordic-Baltic region with 60,000 admissions yearly. She was also one of the founding members of the Baltic Event in 2002.
In 2003 she started her own production company, Amrion, which is active in producing animation, as well as feature films. Her family feature Mat the Cat, developed in EAVE and released in February 2005, is a local box-office success and has proved a hit at festivals.
Cineuropa: When was the Baltic Event (BE) created, what for and what are you aiming at?
Riina Sildos: The BE was established in 2002 with the aim to promote Baltic films and create international interest in the films and production companies in the Baltic States.
BE consisted at the outset of a two-day-screening of Baltic films at the beginning of the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn. In particular, BE has a section called Coming Soon projects, focused on films in development or in production. As the BE offers a great framework for fulfilling this task and because of Estonia's geographical location it is an appealing meeting point for producers from the Baltic States, Russia, Central and Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, we decided to focus on projects from this region and started with our co-production market in 2004.
It is primarily targeted at industry professionals: sales agents, distributors, film financers, festival representatives and producers. Besides other countries from all over Europe, guests are mainly invited from Finland, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Russia. Many useful contacts have been established for the future network.
How many projects do you receive each year? Where from? How do you select them? What are your major results so far?
Already for our first co-production meeting in 2005, we received an astonishing number of interesting and appealing projects. This result encouraged us in our belief that the co-production market is much needed in this region.
All submitted projects had to pass a pre-selection test, set by international experts. So, 12 selected projects were given the opportunity to be presented at one-to-one meetings during the two days in Tallinn.
Now BE management is also keen on European networking with other events to exchange projects, and know-how! We had several meetings with the organisers of the Berlin co-production market and a good partnership was established for further co-operation.
In 2005 we also visited Cinelink, the Sarajevo Film festival co-production market where the agreement was made whereby we invite one of their participants to present their projects at the BE market. This year the Romanian production company Mobra Films was presented at BE by the producer Cristian Mingiu and the feature film project Tales from Golden Age.
What was the significance of the Baltic countries' entry in the EU? What has it changed for you producer and a BE organiser?
There are two main concerns in the new EU member states: distribution and finding co-production partners with similar production capacity in order to access new markets. Unfortunately, there are not enough sales agents in the region or even none – as in the Baltic countries. At the present moment, the promotion of projects is rather chaotic – extensive festival markets are too busy to pay attention to the Baltic countries and other new member states. Some links have been established with German producers, but there is a lack of connections with other countries for instance with France, Italy, Spain, UK, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, etc.
Another interesting point concerns Central European production countries. Different co-production markets introduce projects from Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria. However, Baltic States – and Russia – are not included.
The last point is that there is not enough information in international trade press, often caused by the lack of advertising budgets as the national foundations have limited budgets for promotional activities. Publishing a special edition on the Eastern-European film industry and creating a database like Filmkontakt Nord would be only one of several ideas on how to provide information on our film industry – another new aspect in which BE wants to be involved.
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