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BLACK NIGHTS 2020 Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event

Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event goes digital


- The industry platform affiliated to Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has announced that will run entirely online in November while the festival aims for a digital consistent presence

Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event goes digital
Marge Liiske, director of Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event (© Aron Urb)

As the future of physical events is still at stake due to the ongoing uncertain resurgence of COVID-19, Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event, the industry strand affiliated to the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has announced that it will run online from 23 – 27 November, due to the likely travel restrictions. In the meantime, the preparations for the 24th edition of the festival are underway, aiming to hold a physical event from 13 – 29 November.

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Following the predictions of the Health Board of Estonia, the organisers of the festival and the industry platform have decided to move all events online, while submissions for projects remain open. Industry representatives will be able to apply for access to project pitches and films without any geographical restriction. Projects seeking co-producers, financiers and sales agents can therefore apply for the Baltic Event Co-Production Market, while film and series scriptwriters can apply for Script Pool Tallinn, and Nordic and Baltic scriptwriters seeking producers can apply to POWR Baltic Stories Exchange, with the deadline for all submissions being in 21 September.

Marge Liiske, Head of Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event, commented on the decision: “Following discussions with Estonia’s health officials, it seems more than likely that there will be another outbreak in one form or another and that foreign travel will either be blocked or with restrictions. This would not enable our guests to attend the events properly and thus, with a heavy heart, we have decided early on not to take any risks and to move all our activities online this year.”

In September, the first speakers will be announced, and the programme is planning to include seminars, workshops, masterclasses and panel discussions. Moreover, all PÖFF Academy events directed towards actors, scouting agents, film music composers, costume designers and set photographers will be held online. The whole programme will be announced in different batches until October.

Liiske also added, regarding the new digital era: “I believe that moving online also presents us with some new opportunities, for the audience too — we hope that even more film industry professionals than before will be able to benefit from our program, as they will not have to travel to Tallinn to attend the events and will be able to access the content from anywhere at their best convenience. Also, while preparing the programme, we can play around with different engaging digital formats and involve speakers who would not be able to visit us in Tallinn.”

It should also be mentioned that, earlier this month, the Black Nights Film Festival confirmed it is making preparations for several scenarios, whether it is a physical festival, a hybrid form or even a completely digital edition on the platform Shift72.

Tiina Lokk, director and head of the programme of Black Nights, underlined: “Our off-season side events — the Haapsalu Horror Film Festival which we organised completely online during the lockdown this spring, and the Tartu Love Film Festival which is currently taking place as a hybrid event — have provided us with the valuable experience of organising virtual screenings and Q&As and combining them with a physical event. We are doing everything in our power to hold physical screenings and bring over as many foreign guests as possible, but the virus and Estonia’s Health Board will have the final say in these matters.”

Another important aspect is that Black Nights’ digital development won’t be limited to this uncertain period, as it is planning on building an online environment to cater to the festival’s needs for longer. The same platform will serve as a year-round promotion hub for Estonia as a location for production or scouting talents, with the country’s  regional film funds — the Viru Film Fund and the Tartu Film Fund — being responsible for updating the locations and talent pools. The third goal of the platform would be education, coinciding with the launch of the PÖFF Academy, which will offer high-quality audiovisual education in collaboration with the Estonian Film Institute, the Baltic Film, Media, Art and Communication School and the Pallas University of Applied Sciences.

Tiina Lokk also added: “Some of the changes that are being prepared will actually rewire the festival’s DNA, making it more digital, networked, ubiquitous and inclusive than ever before! But first and foremost, we are hoping to make the physical festival still happen this year!”

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