1944 to be Estonian submission for 2016 Academy Awards

Still from Estonian film "1944" (Courtesy of Taska Films)
9/17/2015 8:10 AM
Category: Culture

The Estonian submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards will be Elmo Nüganen’s “1944” – an epic that depicts the events of the war in 1944 as Estonia faced advances from both the Red Army and the German Army.

The selection was made from amongst the Estonian full-length feature films that were released theatrically between October 1, 2014 - September 30, 2015, and screened for at least 7 consecutive days. The film was chosen unanimously by a committee that was made up of 7 Estonian film experts.

The story of “1944” is shown through the eyes of Estonian soldiers who – faced with these two opposing armies – found they had to pick sides and fight against fellow brothers. Difficult choices had to be made, not only by the soldiers, but also by their loved ones.

“1944” premiered domestically in February 2015 and garnered the highest opening week audience figures in Estonian film history, with 44,879 spectators. Since then, over 100,000 people have seen the film.

The only other film to have achieved this feat is Nüganen’s previous film “Nimed marmortahvlil” (“Names in Marble”).

"1944" has been selected for numerous festivals including Let's Cee (Austria), Cameraimage (Poland), Cairo (Egypt) and Arras (France). It has also screened at the Baltic Film Days in Oslo (Norway) and also at a program of European films in Washington, DC (USA).

Last year, the Estonian-Georgian co-production “Tangerines” ended up in the final five nominees in the category for Best Foreign Language Film – the first time an Estonian film had ever been awarded such an honor.

The first Estonian film ever to be submitted for consideration for Best Foreign Language Film was Mati Põldre’s “Need vanad armastuskirjad” (“Those Old Love Letters”) in 1992.

In addition to the Best Foreign Language Film submission, Riho Unt’s puppet animation “Isand” (“The Master”) will have the opportunity to vie for the Best Short Animation. The film – based on Friedebert Tuglas' short story ‘Popi and Huhuu’ – won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Annecy Film Festival which allows it to be submitted to the Academy’s short animation category.

The five nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film will be announced on January 14, 2016. The winners will be announced at the Academy Awards due to be held on February 28, 2016.

S. Tambur

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