Estonian Republic’s 100th anniversary feature film competition highlights younger generation of filmmakers

In the framework of the feature film competition held in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, almost all feature film directors receiving production support are making their debut film. These filmmakers are representatives of our younger generation of filmmakers, the Estonian Film Institute (EFI) summarized the final results of the more than three-year-long competition.

EFI decided to support the films “The Little Comrade”, director Moonika Siimets, “Take It or Leave It”, director Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo,  “The Prophet”, director Kaur Kokk, the children’s film “Eia’s Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm”, director Anu Aun, and “Truth and Justice”, director Tanel Toom.

“All of the authors other than Anu Aun are making their first full-length feature films, but nonetheless they are professionally and artistically very mature authors,” member of the expert committee that assessed the applications, director of the Black Nights Film Festival and film scholar Tiina Lokk commented, stressing also the quality of the scripts and high level of preparation of the winning projects. “We are seeing a new generation of filmmakers who are young talented, original and oh-so-hungry! It has been a long time since I had the fortune to read and see such interesting and well-prepared projects.”

In addition to Tiina Lokk, the expert committee consisted of the head of the steering group for Estonian Republic 100 and editor-in-chief of the journal Akadeemia Toomas Kiho, film distributor Lauri Kaare, EFI Head of Production Piret Tibbo-Hudgins and EFI Budget Consultant Endel Koplimets.

“The selection of films shows a temporally and thematically wide grasp – from the repression felt centuries ago to the current problems of our time, the filmmakers haven’t steered clear of bringing either big classics or modern stories to the screen,” said Toomas Kiho, who says that when these chosen project are successfully completed, Estonia may just get a few new films to add to the classics for its 100th anniversary. “The films being made attract different generations, both young and old. And, what’s most admirable, children – the future generations we must pay attention to.”

The first phase of the competition was announced in December of 2012 and by June 2013, 165 film ideas had been submitted. 17 of the best stories were written into script by October 2014. Of these scripts, nine of the strongest projects made it to the next round of creative development, which lasted until the beginning of October in 2015. All of the projects that completed the development period had the opportunity to apply for production support from the Estonian Film Institute. There was one application submitted to the Estonian Republic 100 full-length animation film competition which also received funding. The production support was given to “Lotte and the Lost Dragons”, directors Janno Põldma and Heiki Ernits The Estonian Republic 100 feature film competition received seven applications of which five were awarded support.

The films made under the auspices of the Estonian Republic 100 competitions will reach cinema screens between March 2018 and February 2019.

Estonian Republic 100 feature and animation films are:

„THE LITTLE COMRADE“
Production company: Amrion
Writer-Director: Moonika Siimets
Producer: Riina Sildos
DOP: Rein Kotov
Production Designer: Jaagup Roomet
Cast: Helena-Maria Reisner, Tambet Tuisk, Eva Koldits
Length: 100 min
Production budget: 1,380,000.-
EFI support: 1,200,000.-
To be released: March 15, 2018

Excerpt from the expert committee assessment:
This film, based on Leelo Tungal’s popular, autobiographical works “Comrade Child and the Big People” and “Velvet and Sawdust” shows the tragic time of repression through the eyes of a small child. The result is an unexpected and interesting interpretation of the era of Stalinist terror. The script is written with a mature sense that highlights the idea of staying true to one’s self in the face of inescapable circumstances. But there is another leading motivation in the story: in a two-faced world, it is impossible to be a good girl, or a good person in a wider sense. The story is told mostly through the eyes and sensations of a child, of the way that she perceives the world – her world is emotional, amplified, focused on detail, but sometimes also random. In just a flash, the social-realistic splendor can acquire an ironic hue.


„TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT“
Production company: Allfilm
Writer-Director: Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo
Producer: Ivo Felt
DOP: Erik Põllumaa
Production Designer: Markku Pätilä 
Cast: Reimo Sagor, Andres Mähar, Epp Eespäev
Length: 90 min.
Production budget: 894,000.-
EFI support: 720,000.-
To be released: September 14, 2018

Excerpt from the expert committee assessment:
This vial and honest story talks about something very near to our modern day, when emigration, new family models, single parenthood and changed gender roles are starting to change moral norms. But this story is made special by the chosen main character and his situation. It is the story of a parent raising a newborn child on his own but in this case he is a young man – a simple construction worker. On a dramaturgical level, this is a uniquely well-chosen situation wherein the most ordinary of characters has to manage in a situation that is completely extraordinary. The main keywords in the directorial approach are presence, organics, participation instead of observation, finely tuned reactions and visual levity. This film will surely elicit response and discussion in Estonian society.


„THE PROPHET”
Production company: Homeless Bob Production
Writer-Director: Kaur Kokk
Producer: Katrin Kissa
DOP: Mart Taniel
Production Designer: Matis Mäesalu
Cast: Meelis Rämmeld, Andres Lepik, Egon Nuter, Pääru Oja
Length: 110 min
Production budget: 1,350,000.-
EFI support: 1,200,000.-
To be released: October 5, 2018

Excerpt from the expert committee assessment:
An enthralling atmosphere accompanies this film, which takes places after the Great Northern War, in the beginning of the 18th century, in Estonia, where the recent turmoil has started to affect hierarchical and social relationships. The few people who remain start to wander, common sense starts to blur, and a new religion forcefully emerges – either from the fading world order or from the new saviors within. The strength and importance of the story is not only the way it diversely probes into people’s states of mind but also the more general conceptualization of life during a time of crisis. And that affords direct connections to the present day. Man and world order have to be redefined. But it is interesting that, from this chaos, a beautiful thing can arise – pure, human, nonstratified empathy and hope. The minimalistically harsh visual style gives tone to the raggedness of the postwar destitution and the graphical nature of their deadlocked existence.


„EIA’S CHRISTMAS AT PHANTOM OWL FARM”
Production company: Luxfilm
Writer-Director: Anu Aun
Producer: Maie Rosmann-Lill
DOP: Heiko Sikka
Production Designer: Matis Mäesali 
Cast: Hele Kõrve, Ain Lutsepp, Ülle Kaljuste
Length: 90 min
Production budget: 1,090,000.-
EFI support: 837,000.-
To be released: December 11, 2019

Excerpt from the expert committee assessment:
The only children’s film submitted to the EV100 competition has the potential of becoming Estonia’s own Christmas movie. Even though the film involves completely real, vital and important events, it is still a heartfelt fairytale for children about the real values in life. Thematically, it tells the story of a child’s yearning for her family to be whole, but the subtheme is no less important: it is never too late to reconsider your viewpoints and correct your principles. The most important environment in the film is the primeval forest. But whereas European fairy tales show the forest as a frightening place, in this story (and for Estonians), the forest is a place that protects, supports and gives a sense of peace. Of course children want to watch stories that have adventure, excitement and a little humor in them, but within all of that, they want to empathize with characters whose worries and joys are as real as they are. And that’s exactly the type of story and characters that we find here.


„TRUTH AND JUSTICE“
Production company: Allfilm
Writer-Director: Tanel Toom
Producer: Ivo Felt
DOP: Rein Kotov
Production Designer: Jaagup Roomet
Cast: Priit Loog, Maiken Schmidt, Priit Võigemast, Ester Kuntu
Length: 150 min.
Production budget: 2,430,000.-
EFI support: 2,187,000.-
To be released: February, 2019

Excerpt from the expert committee assessment:
The transition of this demanding and sizable literary work into the language of film has been done extraordinarily well. The author has maintained the grandioseness, timeline and style of the original text while also creating an autonomous, complete, cinematographic manuscript. The main themes in the story are work and family relationships, told through their layered and complicated relations, through the lines of the plot and subplots. The structure of the script and the way of covering the topics feel fresh and modern while the dialogue feels precise, period specific while also being unexpectedly humorous at times. The story is masterfully built up and characterized and has a certain western style where the image is sometimes pulled out quite far where it acquires a philosophical dimension: the opposition of man and nature. The Vargamäe location comes to life in its own way, observing, menacing, working with them and against them.


“LOTTE AND THE LOST DRAGONS”
Animation
Production company: Eesti Joonisfilm
Writers: Andrus Kivirähk, Janno Põldma, Heiki Ernits
Directors: Janno Põldma, Heiki Ernits
Producer: Kalev Tamm
Production Designer: Heiki Ernits 
Length: 72 min
Production budget: 2,700,000.-
EFI support: 1,500,000.-
To be released: March 2019

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