Estonia Country Profile 2011

By Martin Aadamsoo

    {mosimage}TALLINN: The year 2011 saw developments with long-term implications for Estonia's film sector, even though it might not be remembered for its vintage crop of artistic achievements. Increased production, attendance at domestic films, and institutional developments marked the maturing of the Estonian film industry.

    Twice as many Estonian features premiered in 2011 as in 2010, raising the share of domestic fare from a dismal 2% in 2010 to an expected 8% of overall box office. After several years, an Estonian film, the full length animation Lotte and the Moonstone Secret, will likely end up in the annual TOP10 at the box office. The overall number of admissions for domestic films could reach 165,00, making it the third best year in the country's 20 years of independence. In a major move, Enterprise Estonia, the national export support agency, decided to finance the setting up and running of Estonia's Film Commission, which is planned to be launched at Cannes in 2012.

    For the first time, an Estonian film - The Confession, a short by the young director Tanel Toom shot as his graduation film - was shortlisted for the Academy Award, or Oscar, although it failed to win the prize.

    3D films made ever larger strides locally, and the first Estonian documentary shot in 3D, Man Who Lived in Three-Dimensional Time, by Arko Okk of Acuba Films premiered at the Berlin European Film Market.

    The parliamentary elections in March kept the incumbent coalition government in power but brought in a new minister of culture. As a consequence, no radical shifts are expected in the overall state film policies. The provisional state budget for 2012 maintains overall public funding almost constant for the third year at about 5.5 M EUR (no precise figure was available at the time of publication). Of this, 3.4 M EUR of this will be handled by the Estonian Film Foundation, and the remainder is split between the Ministry of Culture and Estonian Cultural Endowment grants. As usual, little or no funding for film production is anticipated from the country's broadcasters.

    The one notable increase in public funding is earmarked for the celebration of the 100th jubilee of Estonian film in 2012, amounting to 191,000 EUR for restauraton of film classics and a string of events throughout the year. The centenary celebrations were kicked off with a retrospective of Estonian films at the venerable Cinémathèque française in Paris in November.

    Work started on a strategy paper, initiated by the Ministry of Culture, to restructure film industry's public insitutions, but little detail is made public so far.

    Construction of the new premises of the international Baltic Film and Media School started in spring, with completion expected in summer, 2012. The 5,000 sq.m builiding houses the country's only purpose-built film pavillion and will be one of Europe's most contemporary film school facilities upon completion.

    Estonian features premiered in 2011:

    • Letters to an Angel (Kirjad inglile) by Sulev Keedus
    • A Friend of Mine (Üks mu sõber) by Mart Kivastik
    • Graveyard keeper's daughter (Surnuaiavahi tütar) by Katrin Laur
    • Rat Trap (Rotilõks) by Andres Puustusmaa
    • Farts of Fury (Kormoranid) by Andres Maimik and Rain Tolk
    • Lotte and the Moonstone secret (Lotte ja kuukivi saladus) by Heiki Ernits and Janno Põldma
    • The Idiot (Idioot) by Rainer Sarnet
    • That's it! (Täitsa lõpp) by Jaak Kilmi, Ilmar Raag, Rene Vilbre et al.