According to Külli Hansen, head of the Tartu Film Fund, Hollywood location managers have noticed potential in Estonia that, often, Estonians cannot see themselves. Last summer, Hansen introduced a Hollywood delegation to several spots in Estonia, with Tartu's Annelinn district among those that seemed to captured their imagination.
In the summer of 2023, the Tartu Film Fund hosted a delegation of Hollywood location managers who have previously helped scout out locations for major blockbusters and are always on the lookout for new and exciting settings around the world.
"We hosted them at the Estonian-Latvian border. We drove through Setomaa, Võru County and Valga County on the way to Tartu. We also visited several places in Tartu, including Annelinn," said Hansen on ETV show "Terevisioon," referring, perhaps surprisingly, to one of Tartu's less central districts.
"Then we drove through Ida-Viru County to Tallinn. I was very strongly encouraged to think that Tartu could be a film city. For Hollywood, the whole of the Baltics and Estonia is a completely undiscovered world."
According to Hansen, Hollywood location scouts see Tartu entirely differently to the way Estonians view their country's second-largest city.
"It's generally really difficult to find these types of big, yellow apartment blocks anywhere. It's a rarity. It's also not very common for the houses to not all be in a row, but to form their own space. They're also not the newest, but not so ugly that they're embarrassing to look at either," said Hansen.
"They are authentic. That's exciting for movie people. You can create different worlds and tell different stories. Authenticity is what appeals to movie people, both in Hollywood and Estonia," he added.
The kinds of buildings that are commonplace for Estonians really capture the imagination of Hollywood movie industry professionals as often, they have never seen anything like them before. "They were surprised by the South-Estonian Hospital in Võru. Such a strong, really big building in the middle of a forest. They thought it could be a great place to use for a secret CIA headquarters, for example."
"One of the location managers said that 60 percent of his scripts have big houses like this in them. The South-Estonian hospital would fit really well for a lot of movies. They don't look at it in the same way as we (Estonians) do," Hansen said.
Editor: Michael Cole