'Test Run' for Estonian WWII Feature Film to Take Place in Valga ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: ERR

A unique sort of screen test for extras in a motion picture about World War II, "1944," will take place in Valga this Sunday as part of a military buff convention.

The screenplay of the film, which is to have its cinematic debut in 2014, is by the seemingly ubiquitous military adviser and historian Leo Kunnas.

Elmo Nüganen, a longtime theater director who made the seminal War of Independence film "Names in Marble," is directing "1944" and will be in Valga on Sunday to "command" the forces.

The border town will be hosting an annual military buff convention, which features an hour-long re-enactment of a World War II battle.

Nüganen called it a test run for the film, and said some scouting might take place among the participants in their period uniforms.

"It is a World War II battle [that will be re-enacted]. There are over 400 people registered at the convention, from Estonia, Russia, Germany, Latvia and Sweden. We'll be there and filming it. The goal is not to necessarily, at all costs, to commit anything in the hour-long re-enactment to film."

Like the bloody and tragic year itself, "1944" will be unprecedented in Estonian film history in terms of the sheer number of battle scenes.

"Battle scenes are a major challenge. Big war movies are not made often in Estonia and we have to show resourcefulness and talent to bring it off," producer Maria Avdjuško told menu.err.ee.

She said there would be a "fair amount" of digital post-processing to make the battle scenes as true to life as possible. The production team has opted for an all-Estonian approach. "We have all the strategic film-making means we need in Estonia, so we wanted to keep it in the family, at home in Estonia, without bringing in foreign co-producers," she said.

The screenplay has been lauded by Estonian experts for its verisimilitude and thorough battle experiences.

"The screenplay got a maximum score from the Film Institute, and Mart Laar [former prime minister who is an historian by training] was one of the first to read it and highlighted the accuracy of the historical facts," said Advjuško.

Advjuško described it as an anti-war film at its core. "We try to touch on a period of Estonian history that has directly influenced the present day. We hope it will be a film that will unite people. Including younger viewers for whom the events are now distant. It is really an antiwar film," she said.

The cast is a cavalcade of young actors from Nüganen's own acting school. The shooting will start in early October and continue next summer.

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