Estonian director Anna Hints was welcomed home at the weekend with bouquets of flowers and sauna whisks after receiving a directing award at Sundance Film Festival.
The filmmaker landed in Tallinn on Sunday after her historic win last week. This is the first time an Estonian has received a prize at the prestigious festival.
Hints won the directing award in the World Cinema Documentary Competition for her film "Smoke Sauna Sisterhood" which took seven years to complete.
It depicts a group of women who "share their innermost thoughts and secrets" in a south Estonian smoke sauna.
She was met at the airport on Sunday by film crews and wellwishers.
Hints told "Aktuaalne kaamera" the greatest reward has been seeing the audiences' reactions to her film.
"For me, this film was created from my roots, and if you do it from the heart, other hearts will be touched. I am absolutely convinced of that," said Hints.
"We may live in different cultures, but humanity is the same," she said, speaking about why her work has resonated with people around the world.
The film took so long to finish because it was difficult to find funding. But the reasons given for this initial disinterest are now being highlighted as the film's greatest strengths, AK reported.
The film also received funding from the festival in 2021.
Producer Marianne Ostrat said the Oscars are the next goal but before that the film needs to find a distributor.
"There are offers, but we will see before we decide. But the fact that the film will take off around the world is certain," she said.
"Smoke Sauna Sisterhood" is an Estonian, Irish and French production and had its world premiere at the world-renowned U.S. festival earlier this month.
Estona's smoke sauna tradition is included on UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
"The smoke sauna tradition is an important part of everyday life in the Võro community of Estonia. It comprises a rich set of traditions including the actual bathing customs, the skills of making bath whisks, building and repairing saunas, and smoking meat in the sauna," UNESCO says.
Editor: Kerttu Kaldoja, Helen Wright