After “Tangerines,” the future looks bright for leading Estonian producer Allfilm. As Cannes gets under way, “Tangerines,” the first Estonian arthouse pic to nab U.S. distribution, will be on screens in 14 American cities and will expand to more by the end of May. The film, written and directed by Zaza Urushadze, a Georgian, and produced by Ivo Felt of Allfilm, has been sold in almost all major territories for a theatrical release — unprecedented for an Estonian feature.
“Tangerines” reps a number of other firsts: the first Estonian-Georgian co-production, the first Estonian film to score an Academy Award nomination for foreign-language film and the first to receive a Golden Globe nomination in the same category. The film’s success has put the Estonian industry in the spotlight and opened doors to new collaborations.
Felt is a founding partner of Allfilm, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It is one of the biggest production companies in Estonia.
Allfilm is behind another current festival favorite, the Martti Helde-helmed feature “In the Crosswind,” above, which mixes live action with living tableaux to provide a requiem for the inhabitants of the Baltics who, in summer 1941, were deported to Siberia or killed on Stalin’s orders. An art film in every sense of the word, its extraordinary visual techniques convey a sense of being frozen in time.
“It has screened at more than 35 festivals, won several prizes, had a theatrical release in France and Norway, and there are more territories to come,” Felt says.
Several other domestically successful Allfilm productions will find international festival slots in the upcoming months, including the 1950s-set historical drama “The Fencer,” a co-production with Finland, helmed by Klaus Haro; “Zero Point,” a social issues drama from debut helmer Mihkel Ulk; and “Fast Eddy,” helmed by Marko Raat, a documentary about the Estonian-born, Canada-based freelance cinematographer who earned his nickname by reaching the scene of events before police and CBC crime reporters.
Felt will be in Cannes with two projects in development. “I am looking for distribution opportunities for the film we will shoot this autumn, ‘The Poet and the Spy,’ a comical tragedy by director Toomas Hussar, whose pic ‘Mushrooming’ was a national box office hit. This will be an Estonian-Croatian co-production, to be released in autumn 2016,” he says.
Felt also has “The Signs You Left Behind,” an English-language project with Estonian-born, U.K.-trained Tanel Toom, whose National Film and Theater School graduation short, “The Confession,” earned him a Student Academy Award.
“It is a thriller and is also written by Tanel,” Felt says. “We are looking for a co-producing partner from the U.S. with the aim to shoot it next year.”