Estonia

Estonian distrib Tallinnfilm, in its new incarnation (its forerunner was founded in 1941 and acted as a Soviet agitprop organ), has been a surprising success since 2005, considering the national market size of 1.4 million. A twin organization with arthouse cinema Kino Soprus, which provides an arty alternative for Estonians, Tallinnfilm has released 50 films since its revamp.

Distribution and exhibition head Katrin Rajasaare takes pride in the fest-winning titles she’s backed.

“As the country had only one multiplex cinema at that time (2005),” Rajasaare says, “and all the major studios worked with the same distributor (which is still the case), small players had little opportunities to bring successful films.”

That’s clearly no longer the case, with pics like “La Vie en rose,” “Volver,” “The Queen” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” having reached appreciative locals. “Although the focus is on European content, we also distribute Asian and American films, which have been successful at festivals,” Rajasaare says.

In addition, one benefit of taking over the old Tallinnfilm, which shut down production activities in the 1990s, is access to its incredible archive.

Rajasaare says Estonian classics are being digitally restored “step by step.”

The release of “La Vie en rose” well before its Oscar showed particular vision, especially because most young Estonians were unfamiliar with Edith Piaf. After splashy preems with the help of the French Cultural Center, demand called for a second print —

almost unheard of in the northernmost Baltic country. Future plans call for sharing rights and distrib with Lithuania and Latvia to maximize efficiency.

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