Film New Europe - Step In - Locarno: Country Report: Estonia


    A new film commission, increased cinema attendance driven in part by popular domestic films, and the construction of a new post-production facility are all signs that Estonia has continued to build on its healthy film industry.


    The past year saw several developments with long-term implications for Estonia’s film industry. Twice as many Estonian features as a year earlier were produced and released theatrically in 2011.

    All in all, seven domestic features, five shorts, six animated films and 35 documentaries were domestically produced and released in 2011.

    Estonian features premiered in 2011:

    1. Letters to an Angel(Kirjad inglile) by Sulev Keedus (www.fseitse.ee)
    2. A Friend of Mine(Üks mu sõber) by Mart Kivastik
    3. Graveyard keeper’s daughter(Surnuaiavahi tütar) by Katrin Laur (www.estinfilm.ee)
    4. Rat Trap(Rotilõks) by Andres Puustusmaa (www.rotiloks.ee)
    5. Farts of Fury(Kormoranid) by Andres Maimik and Rain Tolk (www.kuukulgur.ee)
    6. Lotte and the Moonstone secret(Lotte ja kuukivi saladus) by Heiki Ernits and Janno Põldma (www.amrion.ee)
    7. The Idiot(Idioot) by Rainer Sarnet (Homeless Bob Productions)
    8. That’s it!(Täitsa lõpp) by Jaak Kilmi, Ilmar Raag, Rene Vilbre et al.

    Another achievement was the first ever Estonian film was shortlisted for the Oscar. The Academy selectors shortlisted,The Confession, a short by the young director Tanel Toom shot as his graduation film.

    Estonia most frequently coproduces films with its Baltic neighbours. The international hitLotte and the Moonstone Secretwas a Latvian Estonian coproduction, coproduced by Estonia’s Eesti Joonisfilm (www.joonisfilm.ee) and Rija Films (www.rijafilms.lv).Lonely Islanddirected by Peeter Simm is a Latvian Estonian coproduction of Lege Artis Film (www.legeartisfilm.com) Estonia and F.O.R.M.A. Films.

    The recently completedPurgedirected by Antti Jokinen was an Estonian Finnish coproduction of the Estonian Taska Film (www.taska.ee) And Solar Films (Finland).

    In February 2012 Petri Kotwica’sRat Kingwas produced by Allfilm (www.allfilm.ee) and Making Movies of Finland was released in Estonian cinemas. The Finnish Estonian coproduction thriller scored a success at the local box office. The film was also released in Poland.


    Construction of the new premises of the international Baltic Film and Media School (www.bfm.ee) started in spring 2011, with completion scheduled for August, 2012. The 5,000 sq metre building will house the country’s only purpose-built film pavilion and will be one of Europe’s most contemporary film school facilities upon completion. It will also include the first purpose-built post-production facility that will service the industry.


    The total box office revenue from Estonia’s cinemas in the 2011 calendar year amounted to 10m EUR, a significant increase from 7.8m EUR year on year. The total number of admissions in 2011 was 2.47m (up from 2.1m in 2010), or 1.84 per capita (up from 1.59 in 2010). The market share of domestic fare at the box office rose from a dismal 2% in 2010 to 7% of overall box office in 2011. The average ticket price stayed at 4.1 EUR.

    For the first time in several years, an Estonian film, the full length animation feature Lotte and the Moonstone Secret, ended up in the annual TOP10 at the Box office. The overall number of admissions for domestic films reached 172,290 making it the third best year in the country’s 20 years of independence.

    Estonia has 74 screens with 15 of them digitalised. Forum Cinemas, owned by Helsinki based Finnkino, is Estonia’s largest distributor and cinema operator. Forum Cinemas is also the largest cinema operator throughout the Baltic States. A total of 217 titles were released in 2011 of which 71 were European titles.

    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 the spring of 2011 kept the incumbent coalition government in power but brought in a new minister of culture. As a consequence, no radical shifts in the overall state film policies were carried out.

    Work started on a strategy paper, initiated by the Ministry of Culture, to restructure the film industry’s public institutions into a single Estonian Film Institute as of 2013. Enterprise Estonia, the national export support agency, decided to finance the setting up and running of Estonia’s Film Commission. The body was launched during Cannes film market in 2012 and has been building an online presence atwww.filmestonia.eu


    The state budget for 2012 has kept the overall public funding almost constant for the third year running at 6.1m EUR. 3.5m EUR of this will be handled by the Estonian Film Foundation (www.efsa.ee) and the remainder is split between the Ministry of Culture and Estonian Cultural Endowment grants. 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 restoration 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 2011 and the festivities and events will continue through the entire year 2012.


    Little or no funding for film production comes from the country’s broadcasters. Estonia is home to 12 private channels, including both local and nationally broadcast, and three public channels. Over 97% of households have TV sets. Digital TV was introduced relatively early in the country, with the switch off of analogue terrestrial transmission accomplished in 2010. The end of analogue cable transmission is set for fall 2012.


    Reporting byMartin Aadamsoo.

    Report produced by Film New Europe for Step In Locarno 2012