COUNTRY REPORT 2016
Estonian cinema had an outstanding year in 2016, with several records broken. Total admissions reached an all-time high of 3.29 m, a six percentage point increase from 2015. Another record is 2.4 admissions per capita. Total box office reached a record of 17.6 m EUR, with 12 percentage points more than in 2015.
Domestic films had 347,036 admissions, adding up to an 11% market share, roughly equal to 2015. Class reunion / Klassikokkutulek, directed by Rene Vilbre and produced by Taska Films, broke an all-time record for a domestic film with 189,000 admissions and over 1 m EUR gross.
Enterprise Estonia, the country’s industry development agency, supported two audiovisual infrastructure initiatives with a total of 2 m EUR to be spent over the next three years- TallinnFilmWonderland and a media incubator in the border city of Narva.
The cash rebate system generated over 1.5 m EUR of inbound investment.
When You Least Expect It / Õnn tuleb magades by Mart Kivastik started shooting in Iceland in 2016, after the Estonian shooting wrapped in 2015. The film was produced by Iceland’s Vintage Pictures and Estonia’s Kopli Kinokompanii, and was relased in Estonia and Iceland in October 2016.
The recepient of the first FilmEstonia cash rebate grant, Eternal Road / Ikitie, directed by Antti-Jussi Annilaand produced by Finland’s Matila Röhr Productions in coproduction with Sweden’s Person Anagram and Estonia’s Taska Film, started shooting in June 2016.
Comrade Child / Seltsimees laps, directed by Moonika Siimets and produced by Amrion, started shooting in August 2016 and will be released within the Estonian Republic 100 programme in 2018.
Heroes / Sangarid, directed by Jaak Kilmi and produced by Estonia’s Taska Film in coproduction with Finland’s Matila Röhr Productions and Latvia’s Film Angels Productions, started shooting in August 2016. The film is set to be released in February 2017.
Scandinavian Silence / Skandinaavia vaikus, directed by Martti Helde and produced by Three Brothers, started shooting in November 2016.
A total of 377 films were distributed in Estonia in 2016. The average ticket price was 5.4 EUR, a 7.5 percentage point increase year on year from 2015. The largest number of titles, 199, originated from Europe. The US came second with 138 films. A total of 21 Estonian films premiered in cinemas through 2016 and two of them made it to top 10 - Class Reunion / Klassikokkutulekm, directed by Rene Vilbre and produced by Taska Films, topped the chart, while the art house film The Days That Confused / Päevad, mis ajasid segadusse, directed by Triin Ruumet and produced by Kinosaurus Film, ranked 8th.
The distribution market was dominated by Estonian Theatrical Distribution with five films in the top 10, followed by VaataFilmi / Forum Cinemas AS with two entries in the top ten and ACME Films.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
Total admissions reached an all-time high of 3,290,750, a six percent increase from 2015. Another record is 2.4 admissions per capita. Total box office reached a record of 17,665,337 EUR, 12 percent more than in 2015.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
In 2016 the annual state support for film industry was 10,421,294 EUR with 255,855 EUR from the Estonian Film Institute, 640,000 EUR from the Ministry of Culture and 2,035,461 EUR from the Cultural Endowment.
In 2016, the Estonian Film Institute, the national film agency, provided production grants for the following feature films and minority coproductions: November, based on the hit novel Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirähk, directed by Rainer Sarnet and produced by HomelessBobProductions; Mihkel, an Iceland/Estonia coproduction directed by Ari Alexander Magnussen and coproduced by Amrion; Scandinavian Silence / Skandinaavia vaikus, directed by Martti Helde and produced by Three Brothers; The Last / Viimane, directed by Veiko Õunpuu and produced by HomelessBobProductions; The Monk / Munk, directed by Oscar-nominated director Zaza Urushadze and coproduced by Allfilm; The Spy and the Poet / Luuraja ja luuletaja, directed by Toomas Hussar and produced by Allfilm; Portugal, directed by Lauri Lagle and produced by Allfilm; Mankiller. Innocent. Shadow / Mehetapja. Süütu. Vari directed by Sulev Keedus and produced by F-Seitse, and The Swan / Luik, an Iceland/Estonia coproduction directed by Asa Helga Hjörleifsdottir and coproduced by Kopli Kinokompanii.
In 2016, Estonia launched a pilot cash rebate system, FilmEstonia, targeted at foreign feature and quality TV productions. The overall budget in the first year of the cash rebate system reached 0.5 m EUR.
Estonia’s cash rebate allows for reimbursement of up to 30% of locally incurred costs. The system imposes a 1 m EUR minimum budget threshold for feature films and 2 m EUR for animated films, as well as minimum requirements for local spend (300,000 EUR for features film, 100,000 EUR for animated films).
In its pilot year, Estonia’s cash rebate system supported one Finnish/Estonian/Swedish coproduction, The Eternal Road / Ikitie, directed by Antti-Jussi Annilaand produced by Ilkka Matila through Finland’s MRP Matila Röhr Productions with the Estonian partner Kristian Taska through Taska Film, and one long animated film Hodja, directed by Karsten Kiilerich and produced by the Dannish company A Film.
The cash rebate system generated over 1.5 m EUR of inbound investment, delivering a return of 3.3 EUR to the local film industry on 1 EUR invested. Based on the initial success of the scheme, the budget for FilmEstonia Fund increased four-fold to 2 m EUR in 2017.
Enterprise Estonia, the country’s industry development agency, supported two audiovisual infrastructure initiatives with a total of 2 m EUR, to be spent within three years. TallinnFilmWonderland, a special purpose firm backed by six local film companies and a cluster body uniting a further 17, is developing a film industry hub in the capital city of Tallinn.
The new hub will be the largest audivisual production centre on the Baltic Sea shores, with three film studios and a total floor space of 1,200 square meters, postproduction facilities and offices for resident companies. The project is budgeted at 6 m EUR, with 5 m EUR coming from banks and strategic investors. TallinnFilmWonderland is scheduled to open by the end of 2018.
The second investment of 1 m EUR from Enterprise Estonia went towards the establishment of a media incubator in the border city of Narva facing Russia. Narva Creative Incubator, established by four organsations, will set up a creative media hub in Narva (a town with a population of 50,000) by the end of 2018. The incubator will have a render farm for audiovisual industry, a virtual reality / motion capture studio, interactive demo space, business incubator for media startups with offices and co-working space, and an arena for cybersports.
There are three main TV broadcasters in Estonia. The Estonian Public Broadcasting operates three channels: the flagship ETV, the culturally oriented ETV2 and the recently launched Russian-language ETV+, that is yet to capture a sizeable audience of Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority. The two leading commercial broadcasters are Kanal2 and TV3, both of which also beam a host of niche channels.
Netflix entered the Estonian market early in 2016, but with a heavily limited programme with no Estonian subtitling so far.
A 10-part TV drama series The Bank / Pank won the first award in a competition for the Republic of Estonia 100 anniversary year in 2018. The production of this project will be financed by the State Chancellary jubilee fund.
ESTONIAN SOCIETY OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS ESCwww.esc.edicypages.com/et
Report by Martin Adamsoo (2017)Sources: Estonian Film Institute, Enterprise Estonia
COUNTRY REPORT 2015
The defining events for Estonia’s film industry in 2015 were: the decision to introduce a cash rebate scheme for incoming productions which will take effect in 2016, alongside two regional film funds, and a strong box office with domestic films walking proud.
Tangerines by Zaza Urushadze made it onto the list of the five finalists for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and brought critical acclaim globally. There are three films with Estonian participation competing in the Oscars 2016 race. It is expected that 2015 will show solid overall admissions and up to 10% market share of domestic films.
A total of seven feature films started shooting in 2015: Spy and Poet / Luuraja ja luuletaja by Toomas Hussar (Allfilm), Mother / Ema by Kadri Kõusaar (Meteoriit Film), Class Reunion / Klassikokkutulek by Rene Vilbre (Taska Film and Matila Röhr Productions/Finland), Happiness Arrives in Sleep / Õnn Tuleb Magades by Mart Kivastik (Kopli Kinokompanii), Polar Boy/ Polaarpoiss by Anu Aun (Luxfilm), Pretenders / Teesklejad by Vallo Toomla (Amrion, Studija Uljana Kim / LIT, Locomotive Productions / LAT) and Days that Confused / Päevad, Mis Ajasid Segadusse by Triin Ruumet (Kinosaurus Film).
In 2015, Estonian Film Institute announced special grants for film projects on the occasion of the Republic of Estonia’s 100th anniversary in 2018. A total of six titles have been chosen from the 165 projects proposed in 2012 and narrowed down during development in subsequent years. Five of these six projects are debut features. The projects will be directed by: Tanel Toom, Moonika Siimets, Kaur Kokk, Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo, Janno Põldma & Heiki Ernits and Raimo Jõerand.
The distribution landscape has remained by and large unchanged since 2014, with a couple of boutique distributors focusing on critically acclaimed art house fare, among them Must Käsi 2 and Estinfilm.
Mainstream distributors include Estonian Theatrical Distribution, representing 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios, ACME Film and smaller players such as BestFilm.
Distributors make efforts to release domestic features simultaneously through different channels, although international blockbusters follow the global pattern and dominate the local box office.
Big telecom corporations such as Elion and Starman have launched their own VOD platforms, but these failed to fundamentally alter the distribution landscape in terms of turnover. However, Netflix is expected to enter the Estonian market in 2016, which could well become a game changer.
The Baltic States’ Forum Cinemas parent company Nordic Cinema Group was bought by the UK-based private group Bridgepoint. The Forum Cinemas chain operates 70 screens in nine cities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. According to Forum Cinemas’ management in Estonia, the deal will have little effect on the group’s operations in the country. No new multiplexes opened in Estonia in 2015.
Elmo Nüganen’s historical epic 1944 (Taska) set a new opening attendance record for an Estonian film with 19,030 admissions. The film opened in February 2015 and eventually topped the domestic film admissions chart with 115,000 admissions. 1944 was also selected as the Estonian submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. 1944 was subsequently taken into Finnish distribution by Atlantic Film OY but failed to repeat the success from Estonia. The international rights were picked up by Sweden-based Eyewell.
Klaus Häro‘s The Fencer, an Estonian/Finnish/German coproduction (Allfilm, Making Movies, Kick Film) is Finland’s submission in the Best Foreign Language film category. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.
Riho Unt‘s short animated film The Master was submitted for the Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film, while Souptown Secret Society (Nafta) by Margus Paju beat the all-time opening weekend record for Estonian children films with over 17,000 admissions in the first weekend. The film was released in May 2015.
It is expected that 2015 will show solid overall admissions and up to 10% market share of domestic films at the Estonian box office.
In 2014, Estonia registered a record of 2.6 m admissions, representing nearly 2 admissions per capita.
Annual state support for film is expected to reach a total of 7.4 m EUR in 2015, up from 6.9 m EUR in 2014.
Estonia will launch a cash rebate fund for incoming productions in 2016. The government has earmarked 0.5 m EUR for a pilot year, which is expected to increase to 2 m EUR by 2017 in case the set targets are met. The details of the system are still being worked out. The fund will be managed by the Estonian Film Institute. Funding will be semi-automatic and up to 30% of local spend.
The duties of a national film commission will be transferred from the Estonian Digital Centre to the Estonian Film Institute that will now manage the brand FilmEstonia.eu together with the new cash rebate scheme.
Tartu, Estonia’s second largest city, formally approved the launch of a regional cash rebate fund and set the fund’s initial annual budget at up to 150,000 EUR. The fund will finance both production and postproduction in Tartu, and is available for feature films, short films, documentaries, animated films and quality TV series with a minimum of four episodes. The rebate is capped at 20% of local spend. (link)
Two feature films received production funding in 2015. Toomas Hussar’s Spy and Poet / Luuraja ja luuletaja (Allfilm) received 389,000 EUR and Triin Ruumet’s Days That Confused / Päevad, Mis Ajasid Segadusse received 260,400 EUR.
In 2015, Estonian Film Institute provided minority coproduction grants totalling 190,000 EUR for four projects: Aku Louhimies’s Ikitie / Eternal Road (Finland’s Matila Röhr Productions, Taska Film), Laila Pakalnina’s The Dawn (Latvia’s Hargla Company, Estonia’s Digital Sputnik), Vitali Manski’s The Family (Latvia’s Ego Media, Estonia’s Baltic Films Productions and Kaspar Goba’s Hear. No Hear (Latvia’s Elm Media, Estonia’s Exitfilm).
Eurimages supported two projects with Estonian participation, Rainer Sarnet’s Jesus’ Blood and Red Currants / Rehepapp (Estonia’s Homeless Bob Productions, Poland’s Opus Film, and Dutch PRPL) with 210,000 EUR and Vallo Toomla’s Pretenders / Teesklejad (Estonia’s Amrion, Lithuania’s Studija Uljana Kim, Latvia’s Locomotive Productions) with 120,000 EUR.
In 2015, Estonian Digital Centre together with Europe’s first game developers accelerator Gamefounders and International Game Developers Association Estonia launched the Baltics’ first start-up incubator for digital creative media companies, Digix. The Incubator will hatch up to 24 international digital media start-ups in four batches of six months duration each.
Northern Europe’ only English language film school, the Tallinn University Baltic Film and Media School turned 10. The school currently has an enrolment of over 400 students from more than 30 countries.
The market leader Estonian Public Broadcasting airs three TV channels: two in Estonian and one in Russian. Two commercial channels Kanal2 and TV3 focus mainly on commercial fare from abroad or formats adopted to Estonian markets. The main Russian language TV channel is PBK, a pan-Baltic channel with some content adopted locally. The City of Tallinn finances Tallinna TV with a tiny audience segment and general reputation for being politically slanted.
The Estonian Film Institute launched a new financing initiative for low-budget feature films aiming to bring on board private TV channels. The new scheme is jointly financed by the Estonian Film Institute, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Kanal2 and two of the largest private channels in the country: Kanal2 and TV3.
Three grants of 120,000 EUR each were allotted in 2015, for Kadri Kõusaar’s Mother / Ema (produced by Meteoriit Film), Rene Vilbre’s Class Reunion / Klassikokkutulek (Taska Filmm, Matila Röhr Productions) and Mart Kivastik’s Happiness Arrives in Sleep / Õnn Tuleb Magades (Kopli Kinokompanii).
Report by Martin Adamsoo (17 Dec 2015)
Sources: Estonian Film Institute, Baltic Films Fact Sheet, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Estonian Digital Centre, Tartu Film Fund
Population: 1.37 m (2016)Admissions: 3,290,750 (2016)Admissions per capita: 2.4 (2016)Admissions domestic films: 347,036 (2016)Admissions European films: 664,212 (2016)Total gross: 17,665,337 EUR (2016)Average ticket price in EUR: 5.4 (2016)Feature film production: 10 (2016)Number of domestic releases: 21 (2016)Number of domestic features premiered: 8 (2016)Gross box office: 17,665,261 EUR (2016)Market share of domestic films: 11% (2016)Screens: 87 (2016)Digital screens: 62 (2016)Annual state support for film industry 2016: 10,421,294EUR (255,855 EUR from the Estonian Film Institute, 640,000 EUR from the Ministry of Culture and 2,035,461 EUR from the Cultural Endowment)
Source: Baltic Films
Estonia Admissions Top Ten 2016
(Source Baltic Films)
Top 10 in Europa Cinemas Network cinemas (2015)
(2 towns, 3 cinemas, 4 screens)
Source Europa Cinemas
Check OLFFI for Film Funding opportunities
Interview with Edit Sepp - Director of the Estonian Film Institute
Riina Sildos, Managing Director, Baltic Event
Interview with Marge Liiske - (former) Director of the Estonian Film Foundation
Estonian Ministry of Culture - www.enliit.ee
Creative Europe Estonia - http://www.looveuroopa.ee/
Estonian Film and Video Amateurs FederationE-mail: Phone: +372 652 2165
Estonian Filmmakers Union - www.kinoliit.ee
Estonian Society of Cinematographers - www.cinematographer.planet.eeThe Association of Professional Actors of Estonia - http://www.enliit.ee
Estonian Cultural Endowment - http://www.kulka.ee/
Tallinn Cinema House - http://www.kinomaja.ee/
Baltic Film and Media School - http://www.tlu.ee/bfm/
Student and Short Film Festival Sleepwalkers