Warsaw (CentEast Daily News) -- A small republic on the Baltic, with a 1.34 million population, Estonia has a rich history of animation, but with an annual production volume of three to five features, its impact on world cinema has been less than significant.
However, this year Kadri Kousaar's Magnus was selected for Un Certain Regard at Cannes. Ilmar Raag's The Class (Klasa) won the Europa Cinemas Label (and a Special Mention from the East of the West jury) at the Karlovy Vary International film Festival. The first Estonian feature to screen at Venice, Veiko Öunpuu's feature debut Autumn Ball (Sügisball) was named Best Feature in the Orizzonti section.
At the same time local films are breaking box office records, having so far passed 190,000 admissions (against the previous record of 166,595 in 2002). Recently (Oct. 9), for the first time a domestic production, Peeter Simm's Georg-a biopic of Estonian singer and Soviet film star Georg Ots--sold 7,000 tickets during its opening weekend, shooting to No. 5 in the charts. Warsaw International Film Festival Director Stefan Laudyn responded by inviting Magnus and Autumn Ball to enter the festival's New Films, New Directors-International Competition, while The Class-now selected to fly the Estonian colours in the race for the Oscar nomination as Best Foreign-Language Featur--will try its chances in the Warsaw Competition. All three films will also show in the CentEast Market screenings.
The festival's Estonian Explosion also includes James and Maureen Tusty's The Singing Revolution (the Documentary Competition), and Rain Tolk and Andres Maimik's local blockbuster, 186 Kilometres (Jan Uuspold läheb Tartusse/the Free Spirit sidebar), adding a programme of Estonian animation, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, among others at an international colloquium in Tallinn on Nov. 22-24. (Estonia's main film event, the Black Nights International Film Festival in Tallinn, will unspool its 10th edition Nov. 23-Dec. 10, including the Baltic Event and Co-Production Market, which in Warsaw is represented by market co-ordinator Taimi Margus).