Estonian short films prepare for big 2018 after first market screening at Clermont

At the recent Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, Estonia presented its very first screening at the Short Film Market. Having a presence at the most important short film festival in the world marks an important point in the short film industry in the Baltic country. While it has consistently been recognised for its animation – the works of Priit Pärn, Ülo Pikkov and Kaspar Janis will be well known to short film fans from the past few years – its live action and documentary work is perhaps less exposed.

“Estonia is a small country with a population of 1.3 million people, so it’s unsurprising that we have a relatively small amount of productions,” explained Peter Murdmaa, Head of ShortEst Estonian Short Film Centre. “But there are a number of great films out there that we want international audiences to know about it.”

This is not to say that non-animated Estonian shorts have been without their successes over the past few years – movies such as To Light, Shift and Distance have all had popular festival runs. But the short film scene has felt rather disjointed.

“I set up ShortEst because someone needed to shout about Estonian short films and get them out to a wider audience,” explains Murdmaa. “I was inspired by the likes of Lithuanian Shorts who – after bringing a stand to Clermont Market for the first time a few years ago – managed to really enhance Lithuania’s reputation and visibility amongst the industry.”

The recent Market Screening at Clermont, screening films that have yet to have a festival premiere for an industry audience, presented an eclectic selection of films. Alongside animation there were a number of live action films including Helen's Birthday, from producer Marianne Ostrat whose previous film Amalimbo garnered an EFA nomination after screening in Venice.

“There was a healthy audience for the screening and I think the audience were impressed by the breadth and range of films on offer,” says Murdmaa. “We’re just waiting to see what the results are. But it’s a great start and I think Estonia will be increasing its presence at Clermont and other short film festivals over the years to come."

2018 will prove a crucial year for Estonia who – alongside fellow Baltic countries Latvia and Lithuania – will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their republic. With many cultural celebrations to be held in relation to the milestone, it seems sure that visibility for the Baltic country will be at its highest.

“I’m looking forward to what will happen in 2018 and seeing how the Baltic countries can join up and show the world just what great short films come out of our respective countries,” says Murdmaa. “We really want people to know that, even though we are relatively small, there’s a wealth of talent there waiting to be discovered.”

20 February 2017, by Cineuropa Shorts