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Estonia Makes Strong Effort for Golden Elephant

At this years International Childrens Film Festival in Hyderabad, the tiny eastern European country of Estonia is showing a big presence, reports the BUSINESS STANDARD. In 2003 at the 13th Childrens Film Festival, the Estonian short CONCERT FOR A CARROT PIE won the Silver Elephant in the best animation short film category.

This year for the 14th edition of the event, Estonia has brought a host of films. Its feature film WATERBOMB FOR THE FAT TOMCAT is vying for the Golden Elephant in the international competition wherein 47 films (28 short and 19 feature films) from 35 countries are competing. Films from Nukufilm Studio and Eestijoonis Film Studio will be specially screened during the seven-day festival. The puppet and clay animation films include TRADESMAN AND THE MONKEYS (a film based on a popular Indian folk tale), THE HOME SPIRIT, THE CARROT and THE GNOMES TREE while the cel animation films include TRICKS OF RAMSES and WINTER DA.

Speaking to BUSINESS STANDARD on the sidelines of an open forum conducted at the festival, Karlo Funk, head (international relations), Estonian Film Foundation (EFF), said, Despite being a tiny nation with a population of a mere 1.4 million, and having only two studios Nukufilm and Eestijoonis we were able to win awards at major film festivals. Though we are pitting only one feature film in the international section, we are confident of giving a tough competition to other films, and win an award.

EFF was established in 1997 by the Estonian government as a private legal institution. With a 2005 budget of 2.85 million, the organization finances national film production, which includes features, shorts, animation and documentaries.

Estonian animation is surreal, political and philosophical, and this is the main reason why Estonian films are regularly honored at international film festivals. Last year, 20 Estonian animation movies (made in a span of five years) were screened in 200 international film festivals and bagged 10 awards, Funk said.

In an average year, Estonia produces only eight live-action and animated features combined. The budgets are around $100,000. The countrys animation industry employs approximately 100 people.

The Estonian Film Foundation is also planning to establish a film school in Estonia next year. The school is aimed at imparting training in Estonian animation in our neighboring countries Lithuania and Latvia, he said.

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Rick DeMott
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