Marge Liiske

Source: POFF

Marge Liiske

The industry platform of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival is marking its 20th edition by looking to the future of filmmaking.

The seven-day Industry@Tallinn and Baltic Event, which runs from November 19-26, is launching Black Nights Discovery Campus, a  programme that supports rising film professionals from the region to take the next step in their international careers.

The 20th anniversary “felt like a good time to launch something new, to join up our previous training efforts and really push forward,” according to Marge Liiske, managing director of Industry@Tallinn and Baltic Event. “We’re lucky to already have an existing audience for our current talent programmes.”

These include Black Nights Stars, the talent showcase for actors from the Baltic region, which is being held in partnership with the International Casting Directors Network. Eight rising talents will be given an international spotlight, selected by casting directors that include Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Timka Grin, who cast Cannes’ Camera d’Or winner Murina and worked on James Bond blockbuster Skyfall.

For production designers, the Black Room will offer a four-day masterclass in designing impactful cinematic worlds. This year’s mentors comprise two production designers from the Nordic region: Sabine Hviid, who worked on Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar-winning Another Round; and Christian Olander, whose credits include Tom Of Finland and Black ‘47.

Additionally, the 10th edition of the composer-focused Music Meets Film will this year include an award for young composers, while the Future to Film strand has been relaunched with two parts: the Script Pool competition, presenting five film projects; and Discovery Showcase, highlighting six directors nominated for the European Discovery 2021 Fipresci prize at the European Film Awards.

Future to Film will also feature a talk by acclaimed Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur, focusing on the challenging move from first to second feature.

Events will take place in-person and virtually, in line with the hybrid approach of the wider industry platform, which is set to welcome 650 guests.

Works in progress

In addition to to new Discovery Campus, the Black Nights industry platform is hosting three Works In Progress strands, taking in international projects, the Baltic Event for Baltic and Finnish titles, and Just Film, for children and youth-focused works; and International. The international work in progress projects includes UK-Czech co-production Bethlehem Light, directed and produced by Czech filmmaker Jan Sverak.

The industry team is expecting a bigger in-person presence in Tallinn than it had anticipated. “We were expecting this to be another mainly virtual event, especially in light of the corona uncertainty around Europe,” says Liiske. “So it’s been a very positive surprise for us that we’ve actually reached our full capacity for onsite guests.”

However, the industry head recognises the value in virtual. “Last year was a record year for attendances with our virtual edition, and we are now firmly committed to remaining a hybrid event, keeping this new audience of global professionals engaged with our summit,” says Liiske.

International co-operation is key to Tallinn’s industry approach, and is focusing on the UK this year. The centrepiece will be a case study presentation featuring three UK-Estonia co-productions: Chino Moya’s Undergods, Tanel Toom’s Sentinel and Ben Parker’s Burial. It has been organised with the British Film Institute, which is sending a delegation of producers, industry professionals and BFI representatives to Tallinn.

Two UK projects have also been selected for the Baltic Event Co-Production Market, which includes a total of 16 projects and runs from November 24-25. From the UK are Jonathan Birch’s Equinox and Sarah Laita’s MS Estonia.

“The UK has an incredibly strong and diverse film industry,” adds Liiske. “it’s an obvious choice for Estonian and regional filmmakers to look to for collaborations, so [the focus] feels like a real coup for us.”

Industry@Tallinn will also include the two-day TV Beats Forum, focused on drama series, which includes case studies and screenings of around 20 new series.

The industry platform will again host the European Film Forum, which will discuss the outlook for the screen, content and tech industries, with panels taking place over half a day on November 22.

Further sessions will look at the leaps in virtual reality; a case study on green production; and masterclasses on leadership, storytelling, financing, sales and distribution.