FNE Estonia Focus: Animation

By Martin Aadamsoo

    Estonian animation which recently celebrated its 50th birthday has been the flagbearer of Estonian cinema for most of that period with its seemingly endless list of festival awards and a reputation for its subversive quality. The two stalwart studios - Nukufilm and Joonisfilm - have churned out the bulk of the country's puppet and drawn animation, respectively, and are still very much in business today.

    The first animation studio, Nukufilm, founded in 1957, was one of the first stop- motion animation studios in Europe and one of the oldest still around. Part of a state-run Tallinnfilm studio during the Sovite period, it became independent in the 90's and today produces some 4-6 short animation films for both children and, notably, grown-ups annually.

    Joonisfilm focuses on drawing animation and lists Priit Pärn on its roaster of household directors. The studio has turned to producing more commercial fare in recent years with the spawning of the Lotte character and brand. The second full- length children's animation feature based on the girl-dog, Lotte and the Moonstone Secret, is budgeted at Estonia's record 2.9 M EUR and is to be released in Autumn 2011. It is the second full-length animation feature produced in Estonia, following the first instalment of the internationally successful Lotte from Gadgetville.

    A subsidiary of the Danish parent company of the same name, A-Film Estonia has been involved in a number of internationally successful commercial projects, notably Asterix and the Vikings, Niko and the Way to the Stars, El Cid, etc.

    Hand-drawn animation is currently taught by Priit Pärn in the international programme of the Estonian Academy of Art, and stop-motion animation in the adjacent programme of the same school.