The Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival is already recognized as one of the most influential industry showcases in the Baltic and Nordic regions. But the organizing team of the festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, are keen to point out that the popular event isn’t just a one-off affair. “What our year-round efforts bring is opportunities to cater to more diverse audiences and to ensure cinema audiences grow in the future,” says the festival’s director Tiina Lokk.
Along with its anchor event, which takes place this year from Nov. 11-27, the Tallinn team hosts the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, held in the seaside town of Haapsalu, as well as the PÖFF Love Film Festival, held in the historic town of Tartu (pictured), “bringing in new audiences geographically, but also through offering more audience-friendly lineups of horror/fantasy and love-focused films,” says Lokk.
No less important is a web cinema initiative that was born out of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced organizers to host a hybrid event for the first time in 2020. “While it was terrifically sad to not have so many in-person festival experiences, we were able to reach new audiences in new corners of our native Estonia,” says the Tallinn topper. “We’ve reached a more diverse audience and can also present them with a more diverse range of cinema.”
It’s one of the many ways in which the long-running fest has set its sights on the future. Under the umbrella of the Discovery Campus, the Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event has introduced a range of initiatives geared toward training the next generation of film talents, including established programs tailormade for composers, actors and production designers.
The festival recently bulked up its offerings with Future to Film, a program targeting emerging scriptwriters, directors and producers. “This Spring, Discovery Campus began a new training program for below-the-line film professionals for the first time,” adds Discovery Campus managing director Triin Tramberg, calling it “the first of many such trainings, cross-pollinating the film and creative industries in our home country and beyond.”
As the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival looks ahead to its next 25 years as an industry leader, with Israel selected as the focus country of this year’s fest, such programs reflect its ability to adapt to changing times and grow from strength to strength. “Our web cinema, continuing education programs and other initiatives aim to give people more of what they want, when they need it,” says Lokk. “All of these projects reinforce and support each other.”