Arginal phe­nom­e­non

The Baltic Times - - COMMENTARY -

hit Lo­carno look­ing for sales agents. Se­cur­ing them is of course one of the ob­jec­tives of the Lo­carno Fes­ti­val‘s First Look.

Paulius Juo­ceris was asked about the im­por­tance of the role of sales agents for El Padre Medico: ‘‘At this point, when you have spent four years mak­ing the film, I be­lieve that ev­ery­thing will come to­gether at the right time, if we pro­duce a qual­ity film. To be hon­est, my big­gest wish at Lo­carno was to get peo­ple in­trigued, to dou­ble check - do peo­ple also think that there is po­ten­tial in our work in progress and so on. So think­ing of sales didn’t fully oc­cupy us. Now we need peo­ple with ex­pe­ri­ence, we need sup­port from film pro­fes­sion­als, we need to fin­ish up the film and we need to feel proud that we have pro­duced a good and hon­est film. Af­ter four years, it’s not busi­ness any­more. It’s re­ally per­sonal. If we can get that. I be­lieve the sales will come even­tu­ally. How­ever, I in­vited sales agents to our screen­ings and we are in con­tact with some of them, and we will see where that leads.”

‘‘Maybe I am a bit too hon­est, but the re­al­ity is that we don’t have much ex­pe­ri­ence in this "busi­ness". We are do­ing this project be­cause we re­ally wanted to do this film. We are still not fin­ished and there’s much that needs to be done. It’s a con­stant strug­gle and for young film- mak­ers who are mak­ing their first fea­ture film (it’s also a learn­ing process of trial and er­ror, and mak­ing mis­takes con­stantly) - so sup­port is ev­ery­thing. So I don't know much about sales,” said Jouceris.

But the growth of the Baltic film in­dus­try and as noted in the case of the Lithua­nian film in­dus­try by Ruokyte­jon­s­son, has been mostly prompted by state sup­port, with the pos­si­bil­ity to ob­tain fund­ing from busi­nesses through special tax ex­emp­tion.

In Lithua­nia, a pro­duc­tion com­pany can re­ceive up to 20 per cent of the bud­get when film­ing in Lithua­nia and the lo­cal spon­sor is mo­ti­vated by the op­por­tu­nity to re­duce the lo­cal cor­po­rate in­come tax. While in Es­to­nia, in 2016 the Es­to­nian Film In­sti­tute com­menced a pro­gramme that aims to en­cour­age bet­ter co­op­er­a­tion be­tween lo­cal and for­eign film pro­duc­ers to shoot films in Es­to­nia. With the amount of aid cal­cu­lated as a per­cent­age of the costs done in Es­to­nia (up to 30 per cent and paid out ret­ro­spec­tively af­ter all ex­penses are au­dited). There are also at present two case re­bate schemes op­er­at­ing in Latvia. Riga Film Fund of­fers a base re­bate of 20 per cent for in­ter­na­tional shoots and of­fi­cial co-pro­duc­tions that work with Lat­vian com­pa­nies. The re­bate in­creases to 25 per cent for sto­ries ac­tu­ally set in Riga, or where the city it­self is in some way a ma­jor part of the nar­ra­tive. The fund also of­fers a re­bate of up to 10 per cent for films shoot­ing out­side Riga, but us­ing ser­vices of Riga-based com­pa­nies. An­other is by the Na­tional Film Cen­tre of Latvia, which also of­fers in­ter­na­tional film pro­duc­tion co-fi­nanc­ing of up to 25 per cent.

The in­ter­na­tional suc­cess of Baltic films is ev­i­dent in in­ter­na­tional suc­cesses of the films pro­duced in the re­gion, like the Es­to­nian film Tan­ger­ines by Zaza Urushadze, which was awarded Best For­eign-lan­guage Film at the Acad­emy Awards, and nom­i­nated for a Golden Globe Award for Best For­eign Lan­guage Film, and The Fencer which made the Golden Globe for­eign-lan­guage short­list. A piv­otal break­through within Lithua­nian com­mer­cial film­mak­ing and its in­dus­try came with the 2011 ad­ven­ture film, Tadas Blinda: The Begin­ning, which is based on Lithua­nian out­law and fa­bled wood­land folk hero, Tadas Blinda. The most ex­pen­sive in­de­pen­dent film pro­duced in Lithua­nian cinema’s his­tory, it demon­strated that the coun­try’s film in­dus­try is not lack­ing in tal­ent. Since its re­lease, a num­ber of in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed Lithua­nian films have also emerged, namely: The Summer of San­gaile (by Alante Kavaite), The Gam­bler (by Ig­nas Jony­nas), The Ex­cur­sion­ist (by Au­drius Juzenas), Mas­ter and Tatyana (by Giedre Zick­yte), and Noise­maker (by Karo­lis Kaupi­nis).

In Latvia re­cent in­ter­na­tional co-pro­duc­tions has seen films such as Sergey Loznitsa’s Cannes com­pe­ti­tion en­try In the Fog and The Berlin Files by Ryoo Se­ung-wan. The lo­cal in­dus­try pro­duces just a hand­ful of films a year, but has a strong track record, for ex­am­ple: Mother, I Love You from Lat­vian di­rec­tor Ja­nis Nords, which took a Crys­tal Bear for Best Chil­dren's Film at the Berlin In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Hedge­hogs and the City, and Mel­low Mud which won the Crys­tal Bear at the 2016 Berlin Film Fes­ti­val, are some of the in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­knowl­edged works of the Lat­vian cinema. ‘‘Latvia is also open to co-pro­duc­tions,‘‘ Dita Ri­etuma, Di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Film Cen­tre of Latvia has stated. For ex­am­ple, sup­port was granted for Peter Green­away’s film The Eisen­stein Hand­shakes, the di­rec­tor’s sec­ond film ded­i­cated to Sergei Eisen­stein, with Latvia hav­ing joined the project as a co-pro­ducer. A Latvia-poland-es­to­nia co-pro­duc­tion, Dawn was in­cluded on the Euro­pean Film Acad­emy’s se­lec­tion list in 2016 and re­ceived many in­ter­na­tional awards.’’

And what more ev­i­dence is needed as to the Baltic States dy­namic and mod­ern cinema in­dus­try, as it demon­strates to an in­ter­na­tional film in­dus­try and au­di­ences that it is able to work in a va­ri­ety of gen­res and di­rec­tions, both on a lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional di­men­sion to pro­duce high qual­ity films.

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