Puppet Animation Studio Nukufilm Unveils ‘Carrot’

Estonian arthouse animation seeks bigger auds

Produced by Estonia’s Nukufilm, stop-motion dialogue-free “Carrot” will be pitched on Friday at Toulouse’s 25th Cartoon Forum.

Tallin-based Nukufilm (“Lost and Found”) was founded in 1957 and according to studio sources, produces “90 minutes of pure animation per year,” being the biggest puppet animation studio in Northern Europe.

“Nukufilm'”s is one out of the six projects coming from Eastern Europe –Poland has two and Croatia, Latvia and Bulgaria one a piece.

“’Carrot’ is a violence-free action series for kids of all ages,” said Andrus Raudsalu, Nukufilm CEO.   A 13 x 6’ series, “Carrot” turns on an always hungry Rabbit who is eager to eat Snowman’s nose, the precious carrot. But  Rabbit and Snowman stay friends and even during the chase they care for each other.

Skein is directed by Partel Tall, a short filmmaker awarded at Zlin, Aubagne and Lansing festivals. He is currently working at Nukufilm as an art supervisor on a full-length feature, “Morten on the Ship of Fools”.

“Plasticine gives a lot of artistic freedom. Snowman is made of an easily moldable substance and this generates unexpected plot twists and appealing images,” explained Raudsalu.

Raudsalu thinks that at  least in Europe, traditional handwork and stop motion techniques are enjoying a renaissance as an alternative to computer animation.

Estonia has traditionally been an arthouse animation stronghold. Several autuerist tooners  are produced every year and the country has two strong studios folowing this auteur-driven trend: Nukufilm, producing stop-motion, and Eesti Joonisfilm that produces traditional drawn animation.  Eesti Joonisfilm is also the studio of vet prestigious toner Priit Parn (“Breakfast on the Grass,” “Divers in the Rain”).

The Estonian Film Institute and Cultural Endowment of Estonia are two main financing hubs for animation. Through different lines, both institutions distribute around €1 million ($1.3 million) a year. Discussions are currently under way at a political level to implement a payback system that will  allow foreign productions and co-productions  to tap 20-30% of their investment spend in Estonia.

Nukufilm competed this year in Annecy with Rao Heidmets’ “Instinct.”

“Foreign directors and producers come to us to shoot their arthouse films and our studio is acting as production service company or minority co-producer. So this is definitely one of the directions we want to continue,” said Raudsalu.

“Estonian animation industry is approaching more and more mainstream areas. And this series project is also a sign of this trend,” he ended.

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