Tallinn Black Nights Festival Unveils Selection for Cannes Market’s Pix-in-Post Showcase (EXCLUSIVE)

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The Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival will be heading to the Croisette for the first time to take part in the annual Goes to Cannes event, the Cannes Film Market’s pix-in-post industry showcase. Variety can reveal the five films that are slated to take part.

“We’re very excited to bring our wolf pack to Cannes and the Marché du Film this summer,” said Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival director Tiina Lokk. “Our whole team is delighted that such a talented selection of international filmmakers have chosen to join our showcase and join our pack, with projects from as far afield as Georgia and Belgium, alongside films from our own backyard. We can’t wait to let them out into the wild.”

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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Baltic festival, and the 20th anniversary of its industry strand, Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event. Lokk said the festival’s participation in the Goes to Cannes showcase will mark the start of a busy year as Tallinn continues to expand its footprint as the region’s leading industry event.

“From small beginnings, we’ve grown together into an international meeting place for film, with a global outlook and reach,” she said. “We plan to celebrate our anniversaries in style, starting with Tallinn Black Nights Goes to Cannes, but also by launching new year-round hybrid online/offline initiatives like our Black Nights Discovery Campus for young filmmaking talent; our PÖFF in Schools project for kids; an online industry project and talent market; and the Creative Gate portal for regional professionals and locations.”

She added, “Our established Baltic Event Co-Production market will be joined by a new TV Beats series co-financing market this year, while industry events will continue to be hybrid and accessible around the world.”

Five projects have been selected to make their pitch to potential partners, sales agents and festival programmers in Cannes, during a presentation at the Palais des Festivals on July 10.

Florian Hoffmann’s “Whispers of War,” which is produced by Alexander Wadouh and Roxana Richters (Chromosom Film) and co-produced by Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin, is the story of a schoolteacher in Berlin who gets hold of images of war from his Kurdish hometown and is forced to question his entire life in Germany.

The film was inspired by Hoffmann’s experiences during a visit to the Kurdish city of Cizre, which was cut off to the outside world by the Turkish military after a violent conflict. “We were shocked that in Germany there was no news about that secret war to be found in the official media, apart from some YouTube videos,” said Richters. “We asked ourselves the question: Why are some wars prominent in our media, and others are forgotten? What do images need in order to compete for our attention?”

“Whispers of War” (pictured) combines a fictional story with real-life cellphone footage sent to Hoffmann by citizens of the besieged city, as proof of the atrocities committed there. “We live in a world of ‘fake news,’ where enhanced and photoshopped materials are normal,” said Richters. “We are addicted to consuming and creating even more spectacular images and news every day. But this also means that we are developing a detachment from reality, from what really is happening…to real people with real lives and real suffering.”

“Just Before,” from director Alisa Erokhina, is the story of a 15-year-old boy who’s preparing to kill his father’s mistress. It follows the days leading up to their first and final conversation, and the truths that fatal encounter will reveal about them. The film is produced by Denis Kovalevsky (Salt Film Studio), Anna Shalashina (WISH Media), and Nicolai Iarochenko (Les Steppes Productions), with the support of the Russian Ministry of Culture and the Kinoprime Foundation.

“We are interested in the process of observing a teenager at the moment of his choice: To become a man or a beast,” said Shalashina. “Observing him is just as important and interesting to us as the decision he makes as a result. This is a reflection on adolescents and other people who do not fit into modern society, feeling that they have no future, and they are in a dead-end, from which there is no way out.” She added, “Violence is not born out of emptiness. What surrounds us is what shapes us.”

“Round Trip” is directed by Dorothée Van den Berghe, and produced by Bert Hamelinck, Dimitri Verbeeck and Helena Vlogaert (Caviar). It centers on a truck driver who finds a migrant hiding in her truck—a confrontation that escalates until the driver has no choice but to reluctantly take the stowaway back on board.

It’s the story of two people, “both victims, in their own ways, of globalization,” said Vlogaert. “Looking to carve out their own niche in the world, they unexpectedly find each other. The movie does not shy away from difficult conversations and issues, but they are not the core of it. That core is friendship and trust.”

“Round Trip” is a “funny, feelgood movie,” and a “buddy movie in the truest sense of the word,” added screenwriter Michael De Cock. “An upbeat film that makes you smile and feel happy. A film that strengthens your belief that ‘you,’ as an individual, can make a difference. And that is how we really want to set our film apart from the classic stories that deal with the migration theme.”

“Citizen Saint,” directed by Tinatin Kajrishvili and produced by Lasha Khalvashi, Denis Vaslin and Boris Chouchkov (Studio Artizm), is the story of small-town miners who discover that a saint who was crucified centuries ago has come back to life and lives among them. After celebrating his presence, they lose hope that an ordinary man can protect them from their misfortunes. Hopeless and frightened, they believe the saint will have more power if he is on the cross.

“I tried to create a story of many layers that will make the audience analyze how strong we need hope and beliefs to cope with reality around us,” said Kajrishvili. “Observing how far people can go in search of hope and miracles made me write the script. I started exploring and div[ing] deep into the parables created by people from ancient times till today. Illusionary hopes, which are stronger than reality; the desperate desire [for] miracles; unrealized expectations and fear of loss, [all lead] people to take extraordinary decisions. It’s an endless circle.”

Directed by Viktor Lakisov, “Pinocchio and the Water of Life” is presented by Asymmetric Studios and executive produced by Vsevolod Zorin. The animated feature follows the adventures of the puppet boy after he leaves his father’s house, only to discover others just like him. But once he realizes that his new friends need human masters to pull their strings, Pinocchio sets out to give the other puppets their freedom, and the gift of life.

The film shows “how life is not always easy, but with the right people every challenge is achievable,” according to Asymmetric’s Lilian Krantsiveer. “‘Pinocchio and the Water of Life’ is created for everyone; children and adults will find something interesting and instructive for themselves…. [The film] will encourage you to always strive for your goals and to never give up no matter how hard it gets. You will always find your people who will offer you help and share the journey with you.”

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