REPORT: Baltic Event Works in Progress 2021
- Project presentations from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland, presented physically and streamed online, participated in this year's edition of Tallinn's local industry programme
The Baltic Event Works in Progress showcase, which took place for the 19th time during the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, was opened by the event's project manager Maria Ulfsak with an afternoon session on 24 November at Coca Cola Plaza, and online on the industry.poff.ee website. Five out of eight projects presented to jury members were conceived by female directors.
Child Machine – Rain Rannu (Estonia)
Production: Tõnu Hiielaid, Rain Rannu (Tallifornia)
The hosting country Estonia took part with three projects. Estonian film director Rain Rannu who often tackles the topics of technology and its impact on society introduced his third feature film project. Child Machine is about a nine-year-old girl who gets accidentally trapped in a secret bunker where an AI-start-up is nearing the completion of a super intelligent AI. Designed to be a science-fiction adventure film, it explores the themes of machine superintelligence, human stupidity, and AI value misalignment. Produced by Tõnu Hiielaid and Rannu himself with a budget of €500,000, the film is currently in post-production, aiming to be completed by the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022.
Dark Paradise – Triin Ruumet (Estonia/France)
Production: Elina Litvinova (Three Brothers), Jeremy Forni (Chevaldeuxtrois)
Elaborated as a co-production between Estonia's boutique company supporting bold authors Three Brothers and France's Chevaldeuxtrois with a budget of €1,500,000, Dark Paradise is a poignant tale about millennials. It follows 27-year-old Karmen who discovers that her recently buried father was actually wallowing in debt and her whole life has been one big lie, and is the second feature by unconventional director Triin Ruumet after her 2016 debut The Days that Confused [+see also:
interview: Triin Ruumet
film profile] which was a success with audiences.
Stairway to Heaven – Mart Kivastik (Estonia)
Production: Marju Lepp, Manfred Vainokivi (Filmivabrik)
The third Estonian contender was Mart Kivastik's Stairway to Heaven, focused on protagonist Ulf who discovers the secret of time travel on his deathbed in order to escape to the complicated but idyllic world of his teenage years. Kivastik is an acclaimed writer and scriptwriter whose filmography include Taarka [+see also:
film profile] (2008) and Vasha (2009). Stairway to Heaven is his first directorial project still in production, which should be completed in autumn 2022.
Sisters – Linda Olte (Latvia/Italy)
Production: Matiss Kaza, Una Celma, Dace Siatkovska (Fenixfilm), Thomas Menghin, Wilfried Gufler, Debora Nischler (Albolina Film)
Latvia presented three more projects, the first one of which features the story of two orphan teenage sisters who have to choose between getting adopted in America or staying and hoping to reunite with their real mother. Being a first fiction feature for Linda Olte who is already experienced in TV and documentary films, and budgeted at €950,000, the film will be ready in January 2022 as confirmed by producers Matiss Kaza, Una Celma and Dace Siatkovska from Latvia's Fenixfilm, and co-producers Thomas Menghin, Wilfried Gufler and Debora Nischler for Italy's Albolina Film.
Soviet Milk – Ināra Kolmane (Latvia)
Production: Jānis Juhņēvičs, Marta Romanova-Jēkabsone (Film Studio DEVIŅI)
One of the most recognised Latvian filmmakers, Ināra Kolmane based her new film Soviet Milk on the bestseller of the same name by Nora Ikstena, translated into more than 20 languages and zooming on the stories of a mother and a daughter in occupied Soviet Latvia between 1945 to 1989. Film Studio DEVIŅI, founded by Kolmane herself, has so far assured €943,000 out of the total budget of €1,185,000, planning to put final touches on the production in autumn 2022.
Keep Smiling, Mom! – Elza Gauja (Latvia)
Production: Andris Gauja, Elza Gauja, Marta Bite (Riverbed)
Elza Gauja's Keep Smiling, Mom! also puts the accent on female family relationships through the plot of three sisters, dead broke and disconnected from each other, who travel around Europe with their mother's corpse on top of their van, trying to minimise transportation costs to bury her at home. Gauja produced the film together with the boundary-pushing company Riverbed, after securing financing from the National Film Centre of Latvia, the Ministry of Culture of Latvia, TV3 Group, Arkogints and SDG Lighting, adding up to €151,000 in total.
Parade – Titas Laucius (Lithuania)
Production: Klementina Remeikaite (afterschool production)
Lithuania's showcase at the Baltic Event is Parade, a debut dramedy directed by Titas Laucius and produced by Klementina Remeikaite whose previous project Pilgrims [+see also:
interview: Laurynas Bareisa
film profile] just won the Orizzonti prize at Venice. Parade tells the peculiar story of a couple that divorced 26 years ago but should one more time undo the bond in front of the "Catholic court," which results in a series of awkward and embarrassing meetings with various priests. afterschool production announced that the film will be ready by spring 2022.
Light Light Light – Inari Niemi (Finland)
Production: Oskari Huttu (Lucy Loves Drama Oy)
Finally, Finland was represented by Light Light Light, directed by Helsinki-based Inari Niemi and currently in post-production. Inspired by Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen's novel, the script traces in retrospective the complex bond between two girls and its connection with the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Producer Oskari Huttu and his company Lucy Loves Drama, which seeks to focus on important issues, had already backed Niemi's earlier project, the series My Husband's Wife.
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