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Riina Sildos • Head of Baltic Event

“I don’t have to chase projects anymore”

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Riina Sildos • Head of Baltic Event

Estonian producer Riina Sildos (Amrion Film) spoke to us a few days before the opening of Baltic Event Co-production Market in Tallinn (December 1-3).

Cineuropa: Baltic Event takes place this week just before the European Film Awards (EFA) ceremony on Saturday. What effect does the event have on your own industry gathering?
Riina Sildos: We definitely have more guests coming. We usually have 150 people, but this year we have 200 participants. We also had to change the programme to accommodate the EFA guests who wanted to meet with our producers before the EFA ceremony. So instead of having the Industry Day after the co-production meetings, we’re having the Industry Day on Wednesday and the Co-production Meetings on Thursday and Friday.

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This is the sixth Co-Production Market and ninth Baltic Event. Do you feel it is now well established in the industry calendar of events?
I don’t have to chase projects anymore – on the contrary. We now we have to turn down some applications. This year we will also have a new initiative, Baltic Event for East which promotes co-productions and collaborations between the Baltic and Scandinavian countries, Central-Eastern Europe, Russia and the Ukraine. In terms of professionals attending, we have sales companies from Germany, Scandinavia who handle Baltic films. International distributors also come to us because they can find projects in the Coming Soon section that are still available for distribution or international sales. We represent all stages in the life of a film, from the idea to distribution.

What is most important to us is to help Baltic producers and directors find co-financiers and sales agents. We want projects to be made. I’m a producer myself. I know how hard it is to make true co-productions. Many European producers and directors actually make films for their national markets. We focus on the few industry people who are truly interested in co-productions.

What can you say about the 12 projects selected at this year’s Co-production Market?
We’re very pleased to have selected four very high quality Russian and Ukrainian projects for Baltic Event for East, such as Sergei Loznitsa’s new project, In the Fog. Loznitsa was in Cannes competition last year with My Joy [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
. Then we have Voluntaire, a new project by Alexander Rogozhkin (The Cuckoo). Finland is also a very interesting country. They have innovative projects and we had to choose between the projects submitted.

What are your selection criteria?
We take projects that are logical for small and medium-size companies in our region to co-produce. We can’t take bigger co-productions. Then of course we look at the director, the track record of the production company, if they can raise the money, the variety of projects submitted and if they address a specific audience.

The Finnish project Purge based on Sofi Oksanen’s best-selling and award-winning novel is quite a big project though…
It’s a very important project for us. Sofi Oksanen is of Estonian origin. Her Estonian mother married a Finnish construction worker who worked in Tallinn, then they went to live in Finland. Her novel Purge is about Estonian history. For us, it’s an honour to have its film adaptation in the market. It’s natural to make it as a co-production with Estonia. It won’t be hard for Finland’s Solar Films to finance it, I’m sure!

From Norway, we have a children’s comedy Eggg. It’s a live action 3D project. We’re helping the producers Maipo find partners and we have already established co-production models for them. It’s a small budget film for Norway (around €1.2m) but a big budget for us! It’s quite rare to have Norwegian – or Swedish and Danish – projects as Scandinavian countries have healthy national and pan-Nordic support systems. So we’re very pleased to be presenting Eggg from an established company like Maipo, which produced Elling [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
. Then we have quite a few projects from Central and Eastern Europe. It’s a growing trend.

What about the projects from the Baltic region?
There is the new project by Latvia’s world established documentary filmmaker Laila Pakalmina, Pizzas, a low-budget feature film but it has her typical humour, deepness and humanity. Then we have a debut film by Estonia’s Liina Paakspuu, Forget me Knots, produced by Latvia’s Liga Gaisa. Then Jaak Kilmi, the established Estonian documentary filmmaker is presenting a new film, Football For Beginners, produced by Kuukulgur Film.

What are the co-production trends and how is the current state of the film industry in the Baltic region?
There are logical co-productions with Finland, Russia. We co-produce with Germany, sometimes with other Scandinavian countries. I personally co-produce with France. Our film budget in Estonia has stabilised in a way. Latvia has had cuts by 40%. But they have a new Minister of Culture, Sarmīte Ēlerte, who comes from cinema [she was head of the federal Film Department from 1983-1988] so I hope they will have more state support. We are realistic. We know that the next two years will still be hard. Next January, Estonia will be part of the Euro zone, which means that budgets will probably come up. Still, 2011 will be quite exceptional as we will have eight new films on local screens. We’ll survive!

What about your own projects?
The animated film Lotte and the Moonstone Secret will premiere May 6 in Estonia. We have strong interest from big festivals. Ilmar Raag’s One More Croissant (co-produced with France) will start shooting at the end of February. Hopefully, it will be in the cinemas end of 2011. I co-produced with Germany and Austria Chris Kraus’ The Poll Diaries [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Chris Kraus
film profile
]
, selected for the EurAsia competition at the Black Nights Film Festival. The film will premiere in December in Estonia. I’m also involved in the Finnish film Hella W by Juha Wuolijoki. It should open on January 26 in Finland.

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