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Katrin Rajasaare • Distributor

European Distributors: Up Next! - Estonia

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Katrin Rajasaare • Distributor

Cineuropa: Could you give us background information about your company Tallinnfilm?
Katrin Rajasaare: Tallinnfilm is a state-owned company that used to produce the majority of Estonian films during the Soviet era. It has since closed its production activities, sold its production premises and now focuses on its film stock, which will be restored step by step.

From 2004, Tallinnfilm began operating as an arthouse cinema and a year later started a distribution operation to ensure continuous programming for the cinema. Nowadays, Tallinnfilm acquires the rights to 12-16 films a year, mostly European films, with some titles from Asia and the US. As a state-owned company, Tallinnfilm buys mostly Estonian theatrical rights only, as it tries to fulfil so-called social demand, to ensure a wider variety of films released in a monopolistic environment.

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Tallinnfilm is the second largest distribution company in Estonia, with a market share of 2.6%. In the Baltic countries, all rights are acquired for smaller films and shared with Lithuania’s Skalvija and Latvia’s Kino Riga mainly.

What was your most recent European hit in cinemas (in admissions), and how does this compare to US films?
Our biggest hit in 2007 was La Vie en Rose [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
with 9,606 paid admissions. This film was number 43 in the 2007 national box office chart. Only US and Estonian films were at the top of the chart.

What European films have you acquired recently?
Happy-Go-Lucky [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Vicky Cristina Barcelona [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
are our latest acquisitions, to be released around Christmas and the beginning of 2009.

How is the current theatrical market for European films in Estonia?
There is a small, steady market for arthouse titles in the capital city of Tallinn, but the recent opening of a five-screen mini-plex in the second biggest city, Tartu (96,000 inhabitants), has brought hope from the outskirts as well. There are very few towns where you can screen European films, although the cinemas have received public support for technical equipment and should screen arthouse titles for that. But the reality is that you can’t force cinemas to screen certain films that won’t bring audiences.

What do you think could and should be done to increase the visibility of European films in your territory?
More screens are needed in the first place, and the introducing audiovisual education to the schools. In Estonia, media education is voluntary and depends on the teacher. It only looks good on paper.

What do you expect from the EFP initiative Distributors Up next! in San Sebastian?
I expect to meet sales agents and distributors selling/buying European films and sharing their experience in working with small-scale titles. Independent distribution is a field of self-education, there are no firm rules and actions, which can guarantee success.

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