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.