The Baltic Event celebrates its 15th anniversary
by Tristan Priimägi
- Tallinn's Co-production Market gave a good overview of the upcoming films from the region once again, with the Georgian title Citizen Saint winning the annual Eurimages Co-production Development Award
The Baltic Event Co-production Market in Tallinn turned 15 this year and proved once again that it knows its strengths. Right from the start, it has mainly been relying on two main activities that offer a suitable outlet for film projects at two different stages of production: the Co-production Market gives some exposure to film projects from Nordic and Eastern European countries, as well as offering them a chance to compete for the Best Project Award (this year, 16 projects took part); but it is probably the other branch, the Works in Progress pitching session, that has always attracted industry professionals, traditionally giving a good overview of the upcoming movies from the region, concentrating on full, feature-length films.
The opening five-film Estonian package showed some pleasant versatility, ranging from the decidedly arthouse spirit of The Man Slayer. The Virgin. The Shadow by Sulev Keedus and Lauri Lagle’s debut, Portugal, to true box-office ambition in the crime-comedy The Dissidents by Jaak Kilmi. The Estonian contingent was nicely rounded off by two little tragicomic films: the characters of Priit Pääsuke’s debut feature, The End of a Chain, are looking for their souls behind the counter of a fast-food diner, while Andres Maimik and Katrin Maimik offer an unflinching and bittersweet look into a very complicated father-son relationship in The Man Who Looks Like Me.
The two Finnish projects that followed were both comfortable with being labelled as “(Nordic) westerns” – AJ Annila’s The Eternal Road tackles 1930s period drama, and Law of the Land by Jussi Hiltunen looks deep into a life of crime somewhere near the Arctic Circle.
The other Baltic countries, Latvia and Lithuania, had a combined total of three new features to introduce – Inara Kolmane’s Bille, an adaptation of an award-winning autobiographical book, takes place in the 1930s again, while Egle Vertelyte’s Miracle shows 1990s Lithuania through a family managing a pig farm. However, it was Janis Nords’ Foam at the Mouth, a spooky contemporary story about rabid dogs and stagnant relationships, that lingered longest in everyone’s mind.
The session was brought to a close by Monk, the new project by Zaza Urushadze, who has been enjoying some well-deserved extra attention after his Oscar shortlist nomination two years ago, and finally, this year’s country in focus, Luxembourg, had a chance to pitch a social-documentary project in the making, called Zero Impunity.
Over the years, most of the players on the scene have come to know each other well, and this cordiality was evident throughout the whole session. The close cooperation between different countries is also obvious from the fact that eight projects out of the 11 had producers from more than one country attached. In addition to the more visible activities, the Baltic Event offered market screenings of seven new features from the Baltics alongside the POWR Baltic Stories Exchange workshop for screenwriters.
The Baltic Event Co-production Market also gave out four awards to the projects that are still looking for producers, with Georgia walking away with the main award for Citizen Saint by Tinatin Kajrishvili. The jury stated that it was impressed by the wide universal appeal of this locally rooted story about social and political issues in Europe during the rise of populism.
Here is the full list of award winners at the Baltic Event:
Eurimages Co-production Development Award for Best Project
Citizen Saint – Tinatin Kajrishvili (Georgia)
Best Pitch Award
Marion Guth – (N)Ostalgia (Luxembourg)
Cannes Film Market Producers Network Free Accreditation for 2017
Emma Åkersdotter Ronge – Fear Eats the Soul (Sweden)
Kuba Kosma – Trust (Poland)
Baltic Event Works in Progress Award
Foam at the Mouth – Janis Nords (Latvia/Lithuania/Poland)
Baltic Event Think of the Music Award
The Man Who Looks Like Me – Andres Maimik and Katrin Maimik (Estonia)