REPORT: Baltic Event Works in Progress 2023
- We focus on the nine projects from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that were featured in the 21st edition of the Works in Progress showcase at Baltic Event
The 21st edition of the Baltic Event Works in Progress showcase, held during the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, highlighted nine projects originating from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The presentation took place on 16 November at the Coca-Cola Plaza. Below, we delve into each of the nine works:
Aurora - Rain Tolk, Andres Maimik (Estonia)
Producer: Madis Tüür (Kuukulgur Film)
The story unfolds as Aurora, the daughter of a religious leader, embarks on an anniversary journey with husband Joonas, while her ex-lover Lenny seeks to reconnect, triggering a series of events observed by his spouse. Amid celebrations designed to exemplify an ideal family for her father's followers, a parallel timeline reveals the intricate love story between Aurora and Lenny a year earlier. Estonian writer-directors Rain Tolk and Andres Maimik (The Man Who Looks Like Me [+see also:
interview: Andres and Katrin Maimik
film profile]) describe the film as eschewing clear solutions, instead exploring the characters' psychological states and portraying love as a profound struggle between desire and conscious decisions. It is currently seeking opportunities with festivals, broadcasters, sales agents, streamers, and foreign broadcasters.
The Black Hole - Moonika Siimets (Estonia/Finland)
Producer: Riina Sildos (Amrion)
In the tower block district, aspirations for a better life crumble as a black hole mysteriously emerges in a lilac bush, accompanied by a sinister comet and peculiar occurrences involving aliens, a giant spider, and an Austrian in breeches. The Black Hole interweaves three absurd tales, challenging residents in a world marked by moral decay and severed connections. Uma, a gay fitness coach, and Mariliis discover unexpected love but face disruption from the giant spider, sowing seeds of distrust. Meanwhile, best friends Sirje and Maret's dream of working in Finland takes a surreal turn encountering an octopus alien. Estonian director Moonika Siimets (The Little Comrade [+see also:
film profile]) emphasizes raw, experimental punk romanticism in this ensemble absurdist comedy, delving into humanity's contemporary struggle for love and happiness amid a grotesquely amplified apocalyptic backdrop. The project seeks gap financing for its distinctive portrayal of a disintegrating tower block district as a microcosm of the world.
Escape Net - Dzintars Dreibergs (Latvia)
Producers: Inga Pranevska, Marta Romanova-Jekabsone, Arta Giga, Dzintars Dreibergs (Kultfilma)
Against the Soviet-era backdrop of Riga, Escape Net chronicles Dzidra, an impoverished teenager using basketball to reconnect with her post-WWII refugee brother in France. Overcoming adversity, she becomes the first Latvian woman on the USSR national basketball team. Amid KGB intervention before an overseas match, Dzidra leads TTT Riga, gaining international acclaim but facing Soviet restrictions. Inspired by Dzidra Karamiseva's real-life achievements, the film explores Soviet life and the quest for self-determination, spotlighting the resilience of its female lead. Latvian director and co-writer Dzintars Dreibergs (Blizzard of Souls [+see also:
film profile]) commit to a personal cinematic approach, delving into Dzidra's duality and addressing timely themes of determination and resistance to political challenges. The project is actively seeking broadcasters, distributors, festivals, foreign broadcasters, gap financing, post-production services, and a sales agent.
Impressions - Alise Zarina (Latvia)
Producer: Alise Rogule (Mima Films)
Impressions unfolds the poignant tale of Liv, an insecure perfectionist in her thirties striving for stability with her IT guy boyfriend, Marcis, after relinquishing her artistic dreams. The narrative takes an unexpected turn when Liv's estranged alcoholic father is hospitalized in critical condition, disrupting her carefully constructed adult life. Navigating chaotic hospital corridors, Liv confronts her inner child as memories and fantasies collide. A videographer grappling with body image issues inherited from her father, Liv forges an unlikely connection with her comatose father. Latvian writer-director Alise Zarina, in this dramedy, sheds light on the prevalence of absent fathers in Latvia due to alcohol-related issues, exploring their impact on adult relationships and self-worth with a touch of lightness and humour. The project actively seeks distributors, gap financing, co-producers, a sales agent, streamers, festivals, and post-production services.
Life and Love - Helen Takkin (Estonia)
Producers: Kristian Taska, Adeele Tähemaa (Taska Film)
Co-producers: Tanel Tatter, Veiko Esken (Apollo Film Productions)
In 1933, amid the Great Depression, Irma, an aspiring writer, leaves her rural home for the city. Under the care of her relative Lonni, Irma finds employment at a local printing house, where the middle-aged owner, Rudolf, pursues her romantically. Despite initial resistance, Irma is drawn to Rudolf's charm and luxurious lifestyle. Against the backdrop of political tensions, their tumultuous love story in Life and Love unveils toxic behaviors and power games transcending the era. Estonian debut director Helen Takkin asserts that the film moves beyond the façade of a historical romantic drama, exploring timeless themes in contemporary relationships and societal divisions. Utilizing modern cinematic styles, the project seeks distributors, festivals, a sales agent, and streamers.
Maria's Silence - Dāvis Sīmanis (Latvia/Lithuania)
Producer: Gints Grūbe (Mistrus Media)
Co-producers: Juste Michailinaite, Kestutis Drazdauskas (Broom Films)
In 1935, Maria Leiko, a renowned actress, faces a profound dilemma between enduring fame and the love for her granddaughter against the backdrop of Stalin's totalitarian regime. A former silent cinema and theatre star in Germany, Leiko travels to the Soviet Union to care for her granddaughter, becoming entangled in Moscow's Latvian theater "Skatuve." The brutal regime emerges, and Leiko confronts the aftermath of the NKVD-organized "national operation," torn between confessing to false accusations or becoming an innocent victim of Soviet cruelty. Latvian director and co-writer Dāvis Sīmanis (The Year Before the War [+see also:
interview: Dāvis Sīmanis
film profile]), highlights Leiko's tragic fate as a reflection of her political views, presenting a compelling exploration of individual resistance against totalitarian brutality and the complex biography of an exceptional actress. The project seeks festivals, sales agents, and distributors.
Rolling Papers - Meel Paliale (Estonia)
Producers: Tõnu Hiielaid, Rain Rannu, Urmet Piiling (Tallifornia)
Set in a mundane suburban store, Sebastian's dreary day takes an unexpected turn when Silo proposes a daring cash register heist to fund their weed business and dreams of a new life in Brazil. Navigating the drug trade, Sebastian falls for Nora, a cinema-loving law student. Their success falters when a brush with the law jeopardizes everything. Estonian director Meel Paliale underscores the film's authenticity, portraying the struggles of young individuals navigating life's uncertainties. The screenplay is inspired by real-life situations, presenting a narrative grounded in authenticity and the aspiration is to depict contemporary youth with utmost realism, capturing the challenges and dilemmas faced by today's young people. The project is looking for a sales agent, festivals, and streamers.
Southern Chronicles - Ignas Miškinis (Lithuania/Estonia)
Producer: Lukas Trimonis (In Script)
Co-producer: Esko Rips (Nafta Films)
In the post-independence Lithuanian neighborhood of Siauliai, 17-year-old Rimants, more drawn to rugby and the black market than academics, believes success in the evolving society lies in strength and money. His outlook shifts when he falls for Monika, exposing him to literature and culture. Frustrated by the challenges of young love and societal obstacles, Rimants rejects others' expectations, contemplating a self-determined future. Lithuanian director Ignas Miškinis (Kings' Shift [+see also:
film profile]) highlights authenticity through vibrant, documentary-style scenes, capturing Rimants' journey in the swiftly changing 1993-94 Lithuanian landscape. The narrative evokes laughter, reflection, and contemplation of life's unfamiliar stages. The project seeks a sales agent, broadcasters, distributors, festivals, and streamers.
Youth Eternal - Armands Zacs (Latvia)
Producer: Alise Gelze (White Picture)
Set against the backdrop of a psychedelic music festival, a group of millennials embarks on a tumultuous journey of self-discovery, grappling with parenthood, depression, the decision to quit weed, and documenting self-destructive behaviour. As close friends Ieva and Alex navigate the challenges of parenthood, Kitija confronts isolation and depression. Anna's choice to quit weed strains her relationship with Kaspars, the cultivator at home. The group confronts the task of influencing Martin's self-destructive behaviour, unwittingly transforming their lives into a reality show captured by Dainis. Directed by the Latvian award-winning editor Armands Zacs (January [+see also:
film profile]), the film explores the millennial struggle with transitioning to adulthood, delving into mental health challenges and self-destructive tendencies. Seeking exposure, the project is actively searching for opportunities with festivals, broadcasters, foreign broadcasters, sales agents and streamers.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.