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Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary

Festivals 2016-10-10

Reaching its 20th edition this year, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival aka PÖFF (derived from the festival’s name in Estonian), the only FIAPF-accredited (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) competitive non-specialized film festival in Northern Europe takes place on 11-27 November. Spanning over the two biggest cities of Estonia – the capital Tallinn, and Tartu – and screening at nine locations which include two Apollo multiplex cinemas, cinemas Artis and Sõprus, Kosmos IMAX, the Tallinn Zoo and the Seaplane Harbour. The festival will once again seek to create a memorable celebration of film and culture for Estonian and international film fans and industry representatives alike.
Having been brought to life in 1997 by festival director Mrs Tiina Lokk as a small Nordic film showcase with 25 films in the programme and 4,500 admissions sold, the festival has seen a dramatic rise in terms of numbers over the course of 20 years. The 2015 year edition saw more than 80,000 admissions, 289 feature films from 80 different countries and more than 700 film professionals attending the festival and industry events. In 2014, the festival was recognised by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations as the only competitive non-specialized film festival in Northern Europe, an honour shared by 14 other festivals in the world, such as Cannes’, Berlinale, Venice etc.

Concurrently with PÖFF, three independent sub-festivals take place: animation film festival Animated Dreams (16-20 Nov), children and youth film festival Just Film (11-20 Nov) and international short film festival Sleepwalkers (12-16 Nov).
The festival has a full-fledged audiovisual summit Industry@Tallinn run in cooperation with the Baltic Event co-production market, which returns for the 5th year on 17-24 November. Some highlights include the annual conference of Europa International, a joint body of leading European film distributors (17-20 November), the European Film Forum Tallinn 2016 conference on the digital single market initiative held in co-operation with the European Commission, Storytek – the launch of a new bootcamp for intellectual property creators, and much more.
Three competition programmes. Awards

The 2016 edition will see three competition programmes – the International Main Competition, the International First Features and the Estonian Film Competition – all compiled by the festival’s international programme team and all evaluated by international juries.
The oldest of the three competitions is the Black Nights Film Festival International Main Competition, which includes the latest movies from already recognized international directors. Furthermore, for the first time in the festival’s history, all the films screened during the main competition are world or international premieres. Those movies will be made public on 18 Octoberand the tickets are sold from 21 October
In addition, the international jury issues the following awards to the best of the main competition:

• Grand Prix for the Best Film (grant of 10,000 euros, shared by the director and the producer)
• Best Director (grant of 5,000 euros)
• Best Cinematography
• Best Script
• Best Actor
• Best Actress
• Best Music
Last year, a new programme – the First Feature Competition – was introduced and instantly attracted international attention and recognition. The programme shows full-length movies from rising talents, chosen carefully by the festival’s international team. Selected movies hold a certain character of original ideas and strong cinematographic vision. Yet again, all the films screened are world or international premieres. The competition movies are announced on 11 October and the tickets are sold from 14 October.
The international jury issues the following awards to the best of the First Feature Competition:

• Award for the Best First Feature (grant of 5,000 euros, shared by the director and the producer)
• Two Special Jury Prizes
The third programme is the Estonian Film Award, presented by festival's partner Postimees, where the international jury chooses the best Estonian movie from amongst the nominated films of the ongoing year giving it the award for the Best Estonian Feature (grant of 3,200 euros, shared by the director and the producer).
Additional awards for full-length films

• Lifetime Achievement Award
• Audience Award
• Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award
• International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award
• Cross Religion award presented by the spiritual leaders of the largest congregations in Estonia
• Bruno O’Ya Award for the Best Young Estonian Film Actor
Non-competitive programmes and special screenings

As in the previous years, in addition to PÖFF’s main programme there is a wide selection of special screenings and non-competitive programmes like the Fashion Cinema, Doc@PÖFF, the Gourmet Cinema, the Midnight Shivers, sports movies in cooperation with the Estonian Olympic Committee, the Panorama programme which gives an overview of the masterpieces of the previous year trends in the world of cinema, and a selection of the most experimental and unique movies in the programme Forum. Altogether, PÖFF shows about 250 full-length films from more than 70 countries.
Two films in the programme of Doc@PÖFF will see the return of directors that have grown very popular among the festival’s audience. Sergei Loznitsa will be presenting his fresh documentary Austerlitz that opened with favorable reviews at the Venice Film Festival this year depicting tourists visiting two of Germany’s  former concentration camps. His feature film My Joy (2010) was enjoyed by PÖFF’s audiences at jury alike as it was awarded with the Grand Prix.
Aother audience favourite who will visit the festival this year is Vitalyi Manskyi, who was awarded the Best Director award and the Special Jury Prize in 2015 for his documentary Under the Sun, a poetic study of life in North-Korea. The director presents his latest film Close relations that documents the life of Ukrainians under the difficult political circumstances.
Japanese horror movie maestro Hideo Nakata to visit the Black Nights Film Festival

Every year, four to five special screenings take place during PÖFF, which the programme team wishes to highlight for various reasons. The selection is done on the basis of cultural uniqueness and a special connection with the festival or Estonia in general. This year, one of those films is the Japanese erotic drama White Lily, which is presented by its director Hideo Nakata. The Japanese director is renowned in the horror genre for films such as Ringu, Ringu 2 and Dark Water, but has also made successful detours to other genres.

White Lily belongs to the reboot project of the Japanese distribution company Nikkatsu’s series Roman Porno, an extremely popular erotic movies series which saw a successful run from the beginning of the 1970s to the end of the 1980s.
The festival shows the European premiere of the film.
The 20th Black Nights Film Festival takes place from 11 to 27 November in Tallinn and Tartu. 
PÖFF’s programme will be released gradually from 11 October to 3 November