TALLIN: Estonian cinema had a successful year in 2017 and continued to break records. Total admissions reached an all-time high of 3.51 m, a 6.3 percentage-point increase from 2016. Another record is 2.67 admissions per capita. Total box office reached a record of 19.39 m EUR, with 9.1 percentage points more than in 2016.
Domestic films had 282,421 admissions, adding up to an 8% market share. The Dissidents, directed by Jaak Kilmi and produced by Taska Film, topped the box office with 85,306 admissions and over 480,000 EUR gross.
Enterprise Estonia, the country’s industry development agency, supported two creative industry initiatives with a total of 522,063 EUR to be spent over the next two years.
In 2017 major production of feature films for the centennial film programme Estonian Republic 100 took place. Most of the premiere dates are already scheduled.
The Little Comrade, directed by Moonika Siimets and produced by Amrion, was shot in August 2016-June 2017 and is set to be released on 15 March 2018.
The Riddle of Jaan Niemand, directed by Kaur Kokk and produced by Homeless Bob Production, was shot in March-June 2017 and will premiere on 5 October 2018.
Truth and Justice, directed by Tanel Toom and produced by Allfilm, started filming in April 2017 and will wrap in August 2019, with the domestic premiere scheduled for 2019.
Lotte and the Lost Dragons, the third instalment of Estonia’s most famous animated franchise and the only animated feature in the centennial film programme, directed by Janno Põldma and Heiki Ernits and produced by Eesti Joonisfilm, will wrap production in early 2018. The film will reach the screens in 2019.
Take It or Leave It, directed by Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo and produced by Allfilm, will finish production in January 2018. The release is planned for September 2018.
The last Estonian Republic 100 film to enter production is Eia's Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm, directed by Anu Aun and produced by Luxfilm and Kinosaurus Film. Principal photography is due to begin in January 2018 with the premiere set for December 2018.
Other films wrapped production in 2017.
Estonian minority coproduction Scary Mother, directed by Georgian Ana Urushadze and coproduced by Allfilm, has already collected nine awards at international film festivals since its premiere in August 2017.
The Finnish/Estonian/Swedish coproduction The Eternal Road, directed by AJ Annila and coproduced by Taska Film, received the first ever FilmEstonia cash rebate support and premiered in August 2017 in Finland and December 2017 in Estonia. The film was in the Official Selection of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.
The Confession aka The Monk by Academy Award nominated director Zaza Urushadze, an Estonian/Georgian coproduction produced by Allfilm, was finished and premiered in 2017.
The Estonian/Russian coproduction Green Cats, directed by Andres Puustusmaa and produced by Leo Production, was finished in 2017 with the premiere set for 12 January 2018.
The Swan, directed by Ása Helga Hjörleifsdótir, is a coproduction between Iceland, Germany and Estonia (Kopli Kinokompanii), set to hit Estonian cinemas in January 2018.
Class Reunion 2: Wedding and Funeral, the sequel to the 2016 film still holding the box office record in Estonia, directed by René Vilbre and produced by Taska Film, was also finished in 2017 with the premiere scheduled for 13 February 2018.
Portugal, directed by Lauri Lagle and produced by Allfilm, which won the First Look main award along with postproduction support in Locarno, will be domestically released on 5 April 2018.
The Estonian/French/Belgian coproduction Fire Lily, directed by Maria Avdjuško and produced by Meteoriit, will open in May 2018. The film, starring the Hollywood-based Estonian-born actor Johann Urb, was shot in November-December 2017.
Morten and the Spider Queen, a long animated film directed by Kaspar Jancis and coproduced by Estonia’s Nukufilm, Ireland’s Telegael, Belgium’s GRID VFX and UK’s Calon, finished production at the end of July 2017 and it set to open in 2018. Its English version will be voiced by Ciaran Hinds and Brendan Gleeson among others.
Mihkel, directed by Ari Alexander Magnusson and coproduced by Iceland’s True North and Estonia’s Amrion, was shot in Estonia for five days in May-June 2017, after an Icelandic shooting in the autumn of 2016. The film is set to premiere on 24 August 2018.
Rain, a debut feature directed by Janno Jürgens and produced by Alasti Kino, was shot over several periods from August 2017 to February 2018, and will premiere in late 2018.
The Last Ones, directed by Veiko Õunpuu and produced by Estonia’s Homeless Bob Production and Finland’s Bufo, was shot in August-November 2017 and will premiere in 2019.
The recipients of the FilmEstonia cash rebate grants in 2017 are: the animated series Bibi Blocksberg, directed by Aina Järvine and produced by A Film Eesti, the TV series Bordertown, directed by Miikko Oikkonen, Jyri Kähönen, Juuso Syrjä and produced by Amrion, and the long animated film Checked Ninja, directed by Anders Matthesen, Thorbjørn Christoffersen and produced by A Film Eesti.
A total of 355 films were distributed in Estonia in 2017. The average ticket price was 5.53 EUR, a 2.3 percentage point increase year on year from 2016. The largest number of titles, 179, originated from Europe. The US came second with 111 films.
A total of 21 Estonian Films premiered in cinemas through 2017 and two of them made it to the top ten. The Dissidents, directed by Jaak Kilmi and produced by Taska Film, ranked 2nd, while Swingers, directed by Andrejs Ekis and produced by Platforma Film, ranked 7th.
In March 2017, the first ever Estonian Film & Television Awards ceremony was held with The Days That Confused by Triin Ruumet, produced by Kinosaurus Film, bringing home the majority of the film awards, six in total, including Best Film and Best Director. Livia Ulman and Andris Feldmanis won Best Screenplay for Pretenders by Vallo Toomla, produced by Amrion, Jaagup Roomet won Best Production Design for The Polar Boy by Anu Aun, produced by Luxfilm, and Tiina Mälberg won Best Film Actress for Mother by Kadri Kõusaar, produced by Meteoriit.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
Total admissions reached an all-time high of 3,510,932, a six percent increase from 2016. Another record is 2.67 admissions per capita. Total box office reached a record of 19,399,483 EUR, 9.1 percent more than in 2016.
Domestic films had 282,421 admissions, adding up to an 8% market share. The most successful Estonian film was The Dissidents, which made box office No 1 with 85,306 admissions and over 480,000 EUR gross.
The distribution market was dominated by ACME Films with 36% and Estonian Theatrical Distribution with 30% of market share. Forum Cinemas in the third place had 22% of the market share.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
In 2016, the annual state support for film industry was 9,877,146 EUR with 7,025,151 EUR from the Estonian Film Institute, 2,141,995 EUR from the Cultural Endowment, and 710,000 EUR from the Ministry of Culture.
In 2017, the Estonian Film Institute provided production and postproduction grants for the following feature films and minority coproductions: The Dissidents directed by Jaak Kilmi; The Man Who Looks Like Me, directed by Katrin Maimik and Andres Maimik and produced by Kuukulgur Film; The Last Ones directed by Veiko Õunpuu; Mihkel directed by Ari Alexander Magnusson; Man Wanted, directed by Irida Zhonga and produced by Nukufilm; The Man Who Surprised Everyone, a Russian/French/Estonian coproduction coproduced by Homeless Bob Production, directed by Natalya Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov; Rain directed by Janno Jürgens; Sandra Gets a Job, directed by Kaupo Kruusiauk and produced by Kopli Kinokompanii; Class Reunion 2: Wedding and Funeral directed by René Vilbre; Green Cats directed by Andres Puustusmaa, and Fire Lily directed by Maria Avdjuško.
In 2017, the budget of Estonia’s cash rebate system FilmEstonia, targeted at foreign feature and quality TV productions, reached 1 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 (200,000 EUR for feature films, 100,000 EUR for animated films).
Estonia’s cash rebate system supported three projects with the amount of 118,279 EUR in 2017.
In 2017, Enterprise Estonia, the country’s industry development agency, supported two audiovisual infrastructure initiatives with a total of 522,063.90 EUR, to be spent within three years.
Creative industries development centre Creative Gate received 300,000 EUR to create an international platform as a gateway for film and audiovisual industry in collaboration with creative and service sector partners. The central export marketing channel of Creative Gate is the annual Industry@Tallinn, a part of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.
Storytek Accelerator (which received 222,063.90 EUR) brings together deep audiovisual sector knowledge, technology and funding with a selection of hand-picked tech entrepreneurs and content creators. Storytek helps creatives, producers and early stage companies to develop business, fast track their content projects, products and services to the global markets and access finances during a challenging 10-week programme held twice a year in Tallinn, Estonia.
The new building of the Estonian Film Museum was opened in October 2017.
On 27-28 November 2017, the Estonian EU Presidency Conference Pictured Futures: Connecting Content, Tech & Policy in Audiovisual Europe was organised by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with Estonian Film Institute, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and the European Commission. The event was co-financed by the European Commission and Enterprise Estonia.
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 Viasat-owned TV3, both of which also beam a host of niche channels.
The 10-part TV drama series The Bank / Pank, which won a production grant from the centennial film and TV programme, started production and is planned to air in the autumn season of 2018. Itamambuca is producing on a more than 1.5 m EUR budget - more than 10 times the regular Estonian TV series.
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Report by Leana Jalukse (2018)Sources: Estonian Film Institute, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture