Karlo Funk • Baltic Films
Baltic films opening to the world
by Annika Pham
Karlo Funk started working for the Estonian Film Foundation (EFF) in 2000, first as a member of the Board, then as Festival coordinator and now as Head of International Relations. Prior to that, he was a free-lance journalist, specialised in art, literature and theatre.
How important is it for the Baltic countries to be part of the EU?
From the point of view of our film industries, access to funding from the EU happened one year and a half before accession to the EU in May 2004. Since then, other European countries have shown much more openness in terms of cooperation with us.
Which film industry between Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania is the most developed?
Latvia has new sound stages and studios while Estonia has no sound stage and the future of Lithuania's recently privatized film studio is vague.
Estonian films are subsidised by the Estonian Film Foundation established in 1997 by the Government of Estonia. The EFF’s annual budget for production including animation and documentaries is 2.3m€. Our aim is to produce three feature films including one minority co-production per year with budgets around €800,000. The ideal number of films would be five to allow more debuts and actually learn what local market needs. Production companies in Estonia tend to do everything: TV, feature films, advertising and documentaries.
Latvian films are supported by the National Film Centre of Latvia. The country is able to produce films with bigger budgets such as Defenders of Riga, a $3.5m historical drama set during World War One, entirely financed in Latvia with support from the Media Programme.
In Lithuania, films are supported by the Ministry of Culture and a film agency should be created in 2006.
What directors/actors from the Baltic countries should be watched?
The two Estonian directors Jaak Kilmi and Rene Reinumaegi who made Revolution of Pigs, the Estonia submission in 2004 for an Oscar nomination in the Foreign language category are definitely to watch. Their film was among the 10 most successful films in Estonia in 2004 and it won the Special Jury Prize at the Moscow International Film festival in 2004.
Kristine Nevarauska who was selected as Latvia’s Shooting Stars 2004 is also a new acting talent to watch.
In Lithuania, the director Kristijonas Vildziunas whose previous film The Lease was selected at the 2002 Venice Film festival, is now making a new film: You Am I produced by Studio Uljana Kim.
Baltic Films was set up in 2000 to promote Baltic films around the world. What are your major activities?
We attend film markets and help our producers during the major film festivals and markets. The main showcase for our films is Baltic Event and the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn which will take place this year between December 1-3, 2005. This year for the first time, we will organise the Baltic Event Co-production Market on December 1-2. A dozen projects from the Baltic countries, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia will be presented to buyers and festival programmers, and Baltic producers will be able to meet potential financiers and extend their international relationships.
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