The Little Comrade is the biggest Estonia 100 box-office draw of 2018
by Davide Abbatescianni
- It has been a groundbreaking year, with domestic admissions up over 50% on 2017 and a noteworthy 15% market share held by Estonian films
The Estonian Film Institute (EFI), the country's main film body, has recently published the much-anticipated 2018 box-office figures, which saw René Vilbre's blunt comedy Class Reunion 2: A Wedding and a Funeral (146,000 admissions) emerge as the most popular domestic movie of the season, while Moonika Siimets' period drama The Little Comrade [+see also:
film profile] (116,000 admissions) was the most-viewed film produced under the support of the Estonia 100 film programme, intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Baltic republic.
Overall, Estonian films have enjoyed significant growth over the last two years, as domestic admissions increased from 282,421 in 2017 to over 600,000 in 2018. Edith Sepp, the current director of the EFI, highlighted the crucial role of the centennial film programme in increasing audience interest in domestic productions. She added: "Competition for film screenings is fierce in Estonia, as nearly 300 movies screen here every year. This year, there are as many as three Estonian films in the box-office top ten, and the market share of Estonian titles is over 15%. This is a result we have been dreaming of for years.”
The second position among domestic productions financed by Estonia 100 is held by Anu Aun's children's Christmas film Eia's Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm, which only premiered at the beginning of December and has already smashed through the 110,000-viewer mark. In third place, Estonian viewers have chosen their Academy Awards bid – namely, Liina Triškina-Vanhatalo's Take It or Leave It [+see also:
film profile] (57,000 admissions). Finally, it is worth mentioning the impressive results achieved by another Estonia 100 production, Joosep Matjus' The Wind Sculpted Land, which drew in 41,000 viewers and thus passed quite a remarkable milestone for a documentary distributed in a film market of this size.
These figures have generally been well received by the local industry. In particular, award-winning producer Ivo Felt (Take It or Leave It, Tangerines [+see also:
film profile]) said that the centennial programme has taken national arthouse cinema to an entirely new level for a short time, but he expressed some concerns about the future: "First films by young directors have racked up unprecedented audience numbers in cinemas and have proved successful at international festivals as well. Feature-film production capability has increased significantly, too. However, as the special programme is set to end, significantly fewer new films will be shot over the coming year. We still hope that young talents will not go to seek their fortunes elsewhere, and that the film world will not witness a dismal contraction.”
In 2018, a total of 14 domestic features, ten documentaries and three sets of shorts screened in Estonia. Among these, six features were distributed under the auspices of the national centennial programme. One more Estonia 100 title is still to be released – namely, Tanel Toom's feature debut, Truth and Justice, set to premiere on 22 February and produced by Allfilm.
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