Acuba back with The Hostage
by Annika Pham
Tallin-based Acuba Film, which won the Black Night Film Festival (BNFF) Best Estonian Film Award last year for the documentary Pärnography, is back with another film in the Estonian competition section: The Hostage [+see also:
film profile] by renowned Latvian filmmaker Laila Pakalnina.
The film, produced by the director’s production outfit Hargla Production with Acuba’s Arko Okk and Igor Pedicek (Casablanca Film Production) from Slovenia, first screened in Locarno’s Filmmakers of the Present section and in Pusan. The film is an absurd look at Latvian society using as a backdrop the story of a inoffensive hijacker (Slovenian star actor Branko Zavrsan from No Man’s Land [+see also:
film profile]) who kidnaps a little boy when the plane lands at Riga’s airport.
Okk also worked as DoP on the film (as in most films he produces) and said the €400,000 film was shot in Latvia where "everything is cheaper than in Estonia". The Hostage was released on three screens in Estonia and played for a week, and is currently showing in one Latvian cinema. The film is being sold internationally by the Latvian Film Foundation.
Okk, who previously produced Pakalnina’s award-winning documentary The Bus in 2003, says he tends to make what he likes, even if he realistically knows that the theatrical prospects of his auteur films are rather slim. In Estonia, if people go to the cinemas, it’s to be entertained with children’s films or US films that totally dominate screens, and cinema-going as a leisure activity is not a priority, often associated with propaganda under Russian occupation. Theatre is the most popular paid entertainment.
Another major problem for Estonian films is the fact that Estonian language is not understood outside its own borders, hence its difficulties to reach audiences even in its neighbouring countries. “Maybe in 10 years my efforts to make quality auteur films will pay off”, he says.
In the meantime, he is grateful to the MEDIA Programme and Eurimages, whose support has made a big difference for Baltic producers.
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