REPORT: Industry@Tallinn Works in Progress 2021
- Six international projects have been showcased at the event, all of which are European productions or co-productions, with the USA being the only country involved from outside the continent
The diverse international work-in-progress selection at this year’s Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event included projects developed in the Czech Republic, Russia, Lithuania, Georgia, Turkey, France, Germany, Spain, the UK and the USA. They were introduced physically during a morning session, moderated by the gathering’s programme coordinator, Triin Tramberg, on 24 November at the Coca Cola Plaza, and were simultaneously broadcasted via the industry.poff.ee website. Four of them are being directed by Eastern European filmmakers. We take a closer look at all of them below.
Bethlehem Light – Jan Sverak (Czech Republic/UK)
Production: Jan Sverak (Biograf Jan Sverak), Eric Abraham (Portobello Productions), Czech Television
Acclaimed Czech director and Oscar winner Jan Sverak (Kolya) unveiled some niceties concerning his new comedy Bethlehem Light, a co-production being staged by Sverak himself. This is the eighth collaboration between the Czech helmer and his father, famous actor Zdenek Sverak, and its protagonist is a writer whose life is enlivened by the characters from his stories. They enter his reality at various stages of completeness and with all kinds of strange demands, while existential questions are posed in a magical-realist setting. The film is already in post-production and is fully financed; thus it is currently looking for distributors and sales agents.
Beautiful Helen – George Ovashvili (Georgia/Turkey/France)
Production: George Ovashvili, Mesut Ulutaş, Guillaume de Seille (Wagonnet Films)
Another project at the post-production stage and being produced by its director was Beautiful Helen by George Ovashvili. Ovashvili’s fourth feature after successful titles such as Corn Island [+see also:
interview: George Ovashvili
film profile] (2014) and Khibula [+see also:
interview: George Ovashvili
film profile] (2017) deals with the identity crisis of a young woman who is striving to find her place back home, after studying in New York. An encounter with an older film director propels her into a profound spiritual adventure. Wagonnet Films has succeeded in securing most of the €250,000 total budget and is predicting it will have the film ready by February next year.
Intensive Care – Pyotr Todorovskiy (Russia)
Production: Valeriy Fedorovich, Evgeniy Nikishov (1-2-3 Production)
Russia’s Intensive Care features Yegor, a man immersed in a mid-life crisis, who witnesses a random act of violence. Spurred on by the tragedy, he feels the urge to help people and becomes a volunteer, which, however, costs Yegor his career and brings him to the brink of divorce. This is director-scriptwriter Pyotr Todorovskiy’s third major project after his debut, Love Story, and the TV drama series Six Empty Seats. Producers Valeriy Fedorovich and Evgeniy Nikishov from Moscow-based 1-2-3 Production, focusing on both commercial and director-driven feature films, have secured all of the financing, budgeted at €1,000,000.
We Might as Well Be Dead – Natalia Sinelnikova (Germany)
Production: Julia Wagner (HEARTWAKE Films), Magdalena Wolff (Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf)
Born in Saint Petersburg and raised in Germany, Natalia Sinelnikova presented her feature debut, We Might as Well Be Dead, which is being staged as an entirely German production. The plot unfurls a minimalistic story around a high-rise building near the forest, famous for its carefully curated community. When a dog disappears and her daughter refuses to leave the bathroom, security officer Anna faces an absurd battle against the fear that slowly spreads among the residents and shakes this utopia with a view. Aiming for a tone of social satire and absurdist humour, the low-budget movie should be completed in early 2022, and is already searching for distributors, broadcasters and streamers.
Cork – Mikel Gurrea (Spain)
Producers: Laura Rubirola (Malmo Pictures), Sergi Moreno, Tono Folguera (Lastor Media), Clàudia Maluenda, Xabi Berzosa (Irusoin)
Young Catalan writer-director Mikel Gurrea disclosed details about his independent feature debut with thriller elements, Cork, which won an award at the early project stage at the San Sebastián Film Festival, and was developed at Ikusmira Berriak, Sources2 and the Jerusalem Film Lab. The script features a young, vulnerable couple who inherit a cork-harvesting farm in rural Catalonia. As newly fledged landowners, they dream of building a fair and sustainable life, only to find that their ideals clash head on with their pressing need to make money.
Solidarity – Dustin Brown (USA/Lithuania)
Production: Dustin Brown, Daniel Dreifuss (Dustin Todd Films), Daniel Leighton, Kaiulani Bush, Mantas Valantiejus (Midnight Lantern Productions)
Finally, the showcase of the US-Lithuanian co-production Solidarity offered a cross-cultural insight into the immigrant experience in Los Angeles through parallel plots, intertwining the lives of a Mexican seamstress and a Lithuanian butcher. Based on a previous, award-winning short film of the same name by American independent writer and filmmaker Dustin Brown, recognised by the Cannes Film Festival, BAFTA and Clermont-Ferrand, Solidarity aims to explore the profound forces in society that bind people together. One of the main characters was inspired by the actual life story of Lithuanian-born actor Mantas Valantiejus (also one of the co-producers of the film), who was living undocumented for many years in the USA. Half of the estimated budget of $350,000 has been confirmed, and the film is currently in production.
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