FNE Estonia Focus: Estonian coproductions

By Martin Aadamsoo

    Out of 21 features produced in Estonia over the last 4 years, over half were shot in international co-production. Estonia is well and truly the land of cinematic co-productions, although apparently more out of necessity rather than choice.

    Estonia's regular co-production partners come from the geographic vicinity, with Finland leading the pack by a long way, followed by Germany, Russia, Latvia, Denmark and others. After acceeding to the EU MEDIA programm late in 2002, Estonia has been one of the more successful recepients of MEDIA support money with a close to 75% success rate in the project development scheme. This adds to a total of 2,23 M EUR over the period, and partly explains Estonian producers' interest in international projects. Estonia joined EURIMAGEs in 2004 and has brought home several financing packages to date, another factor supporting an intnernational outlook.

    However, co-producing films internationally seems to have done little to bolster the box office success of Estonian films, either domestically or abroad. It is therefore probable that most co-productions are seen as a way to close the financing rather than involving creative input from other countries.

    Likewise, with the average budget of Estonian features hovering around 1 M EUR, local producers lack the financial muscle to enter larger European projects with meaningful shares, limiting the cross-border co-operation to regional films with low budgets by European or Russian standars. In many cases, foreign partners are involved for only small parts of the process, typically for post-production, and with little creative input expected.

    Notable recent co-productions with Estonian participation include:

    • Buratino, the son of Pinocchio (2009) Estonia/Russia. Directed by Director: Rasmus Merivoo (Estonia), produced by Estinfilm and Marvofilm (Estonia) and Planet Kino (Russia). Reported budget 1.1 M EUR, coming from Estonian and Russian funds, and

    • http://www.estinfilm.ee/

    • The Temptation of St.Tony (2009) Estonia, Sweden, Finland. Directed by Veiko Õunpuu (Estonia), produced by Homeless Bob Producion (Estonia), ATMO (Sweden) and Bronson Club (Finland). Reported budget just over 1 million EUR, Estonia contributed 65%, Sweden 21% and Finland 14% of the budget. The film was shortlisted for the European Film Academy awards in 2010.

    • Poll (2010), directed by Chris Kraus (Germany). Produced by Kordes & Kordes (Germany) in co-production with Dor Film (Austria) and Amrion (Estonia). World sales are handled by Bavaria Film International. Reported budget 7.8 million EUR, making it the most expensive production shot largely in Estonia since the country regained independence in the early 90's. Premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.