Interview with producer of 'Tangerines': Oscar is unlikely

Ivo Felt (Reuters/Scanpix)
1/16/2015 4:00 PM
Category: Culture

Ivo Felt, producer of the Estonian-Georgian movie "Tangerines", spoke to ETV's daily news magazine program "Ringvaade" about the Oscar nomination.

You have now been nominated for an Oscar. How nervous were you during the month that has followed the nomination for a Golden Globe?

There were some jitters, but we weren't very nervous about the Golden Globes. It was very obvious that we were not going to get it. Well, maybe not very obvious, but definitely quite so. With the Oscar nomination, however, we were a bit blown by the nine that were shortlisted. The list was surprising, we expected it to include other films. This gave us some hope. But you don't constantly think about these things.

What time did your hands start shaking before the announcements? When did you get excited?

My hands didn't really shake, but the Georgian [director Zaza Urushadze - ed.] next to me was nervous so that made me anxious too.

Last time we met, following the Golden Globes nomination, you just shrug your shoulders. Were you more emotional this time, as befitting an Estonian, when you got the news?

It was different this time, as the director Zaza Urushadze and I were together during the announcement, so we were both a bit more emotional than last time. He was then in Tbilisi and I was in Tallinn.

Is it an Estonian or a Georgian film? The screenwriter and director is a Georgian, most of the cast is Georgian. What makes it an Estonian movie then? We so proudly proclaim that it is Estonian.

It has to be someone's, right? It's an Estonian-Georgian film, in that specific order. That's because the first impulse for the movie came from Estonia; the film is mostly in Estonian language, there is not a word of Georgian in it; the lead actor is Estonian and a lot of the creative staff are Estonians. So I would say that Estonia had much of the creative control.

How has the news been received in Georgia? Are they celebrating like we are and my Georgian peer is interviewing the director in the evening program. Do they proclaim that Georgia has received its first ever Oscar nomination?

It's the phenomenon of this movie that we both say it's ours: Estonians say it's Estonian, Georgians say it's Georgian. In some sense we are all right. But the official version has Estonia first, Georgia second.

What will you do with the Oscar if you win it? There's just one statue, who is going to have it on his desk?

First things first, the chances of winning it are non-numerical, they are very slim indeed. There are two favorites - "Ida" and "Leviathan".

Of the five nominees, two are different from those at the Golden Globes - "Timbuktu" and the film from Argentina.

Indeed. They are all very strong films. The Argentinian entry is the only one I haven't seen yet. "Timbuktu" is just as good as the top contenders "Leviathan" and "Ida", so there is no reason to believe that the "Wild Tales" is anything less. It's a comedy and said to be extremely funny.

Does the Oscar nomination mean that the film will enjoy global popularity and masses will flock to theaters to see it?

We shall see. There's a flicker of hope that it will get wider distribution now. We are dealing with the US first and truly hope to enter the market there. I believe we are the only one of the five nominees that is not available in the US. The distributors have expressed interest, but I think a few of them were waiting to see how it goes with the Oscars.

How big a boost did the Golden Globes give the film?

Of course these things have an effect. American audiences care for the American awards and keep a keen eye on them.

Does all this bring in any money?

It hasn't so far.

What motivates you now that you have been nominated for an Oscar? Where do you go from here? Aren't you afraid that having done your "life's work" now, you will get stressed out in later life?

No, I'm not. I'm always very excited and want to make new movies. I plan to make a movie with Toomas Lutsar in May, one of our new films "The Fencer" will premiere in March. Life goes on. An Oscar is just an Oscar. And it's all very subjective anyway: which films are good, or rather, get awarded, and which don't. It's all very strange to me. Lembit Ulfsak calls it a "culture sport". It's always arguable what is good and what not so good.

M. Oll

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