Film Institute manager: Estonian filmmaking probably postponed to autumn

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Edith Sepp

Even though it is difficult to predict when will the cinemas be opened again, Estonian Film Institute manager Edith Sepp believes that most domestic films planned for spring will be postponed to autumn. It is not out-of-the-question that bigger films will premiere in cinemas in 2022, either, Sepp told ERR's Culture portal in an interview.

Currently, the cinemas are closed, as they probably will be in April as well. What do you think, when will it be possible to see a new Estonian film?

The films will probably premiere in cinemas in autumn; I don't think anybody will come out with a new film before that. I looked it up, and we have six films supported by the Estonian Film Institute, and three to four films on private funding. Several films are waiting for cinemas to be opened. When the cinemas will open, and whether all films planned for this year will air or will be postponed, time will show.

Some movie makers or distributors have already postponed their offerings. "Kalev" and "Erik Kivisüda" will now premiere in 2022, for instance.

It is clear then that prior to the summer, no new films can be expected?

It can be seen that the situation is stabilizing very slowly. I don't think we will open cinemas in April, and for this reason, noone wants to bring their films out for the start of the summer. Perhaps some producers are ready to come out with the films in September.

Explain a little what the support from the government via the confirmed supplementary budget will look like. A lot of money has gone towards films that are ready, but waiting for their airing time. These filmmakers need to be supported as well.

Indeed, the films' self-financing is something that is not coming back to the producers. The producers have invested in films coming out, but when these are postponed, they have to go without ticket receipts. When there's no money coming in, they can't develop any new projects. It's quite a big problem for the producers.

It is easy to say 'let's postpone the films', bring them out in autumn and the money will come in at some point, but you need to reach this point somehow.

Are you directing filmmakers to postpone their films to 2022?

Theoretically, a new film can be brought out every week, but is there a point? We still have a certain amount of viewers who are not able to see all the films.

Fortunately, producers have been very reasonable and understand, and desire, that films not come out one after the other in quick succession, but rather that after every movie opening, there's some time breathing space for the film-going public to see a movie before the next one comes along.

Can you comment on film festivals? Will Estonian films compete there?

Absolutely, but the film festival schedules are so confusing. I just found out that Veiko Õunpuu's "The Last Ones" is participating in the Stockfish Film Festival in Iceland, but I was very surprised to learn, because in general this festival takes place in February, whereas now it is postponed to April. We are, of course, very pleased that "The Last Ones" is due to come out in Iceland, but this festival schedule is very unpredictable.

Naturally, we submit Estonian movies to all the international film festivals, and we want them to participate in the main programs, but whether they get admitted and who gets chosen can be very difficult. What has also changed is that festival programs have become smaller, but competition has intensified. There are a lot of films competing because no one has been able to come out in the cinemas.

What about production right now? The fact that cinemas are closed doesn't mean that films can't be produced?

We have a special permit so that production can continue with all precautions taken. Some of the films are currently being shot.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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