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INDUSTRY / MARKET Estonia

The Estonian Film Institute adopts its first measures to fight the COVID-19 crisis

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- The Baltic film agency has published a series of mitigation and compensation measures aimed at supporting the industry during these difficult times

The Estonian Film Institute adopts its first measures to fight the COVID-19 crisis

This week, the Estonian Film Institute, the country’s audiovisual agency, announced a series of provisions aimed at different target groups within the local industry, focusing on the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The extra funding is being made available by the Ministry of Culture and is part of a wider aid package backing Estonian cultural and sports initiatives, which will reach a total of €25 million.

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The exceptional support scheme, handled by the Estonian Film Institute and the Ministry of Culture, will back Estonia’s film sector with an additional €800,000. The first goal of this scheme is to support production and distribution outfits as well as arthouse exhibitors already in receipt of the institute’s grants. A sum of €500,000 will target firms whose production or distribution activities have been interrupted owing to the spread of the virus. The second objective is to support arthouse cinemas and small distributors that show European films. These outfits will receive a total of €300,000, handed out by the Ministry of Culture.

Meanwhile, a dedicated support scheme for creative freelancers was put in place, valued at €4.2 million. Its main purpose is to compensate for filmmakers’ reduced earnings and will guarantee a six-month minimum wage payment for up to 1,200 freelancers this year. According to a recent survey conducted by the Estonian Filmmakers Union, 80% of the respondents stated that the pandemic has greatly affected their work. However, as of today, the union can only allocate 14 grants for creative activities, despite the local film industry employing about 800 professionals.

In addition, a new €500,000 call for film productions will be published by the body in June.

In general terms, the institute has committed to guaranteeing more flexibility with regard to the deadlines for applications, reports and screenings. For example, the organisation brought forward the deadline for the second round of grants for screenplay and feature-film development by two months (from 13 October to 18 August) and changed the process for allocating grants for feature-film development. Instead of paying its bursaries in three instalments, the body will now pay 95% of the amount after signing the contract and the remaining 5% after the approval of the final report. Finally, the agency is working on extending Film Estonia’s cash rebate to favour local investments, as foreign co-productions may become more problematic in the short term.

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