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Ivo Felt • Producer

“We can give a high potential value to any film”


- CANNES 2016: Cineuropa met up with producer Ivo Felt (Tangerines and The Fencer) to talk about his future projects and what it meant to have an Estonian film nominated at the Oscars

Ivo Felt  • Producer
Producer Ivo Felt at the Oscars

Cineuropa met up with Ivo Felt, the producer of Tangerines [+see also:
film review
film profile
and The Fencer [+see also:
interview: Ivo Felt
film profile
, at the Cannes Film Festival to talk about his future projects and what it meant for a small country like Estonia to have two films nominated at the Golden Globes and one at the Oscars.

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Cineuropa: How did Tangerines do with its international sales?
Ivo Felt:
The film has been sold in over 100 countries. We know Tangerines is not a blockbuster, but the fact that such a small film can travel so widely is a big thing for Estonia and, of course, also for Georgian director Zaza Urushadze and me. We are starting pre-production for a new project right now: the film is called The Monk, and we are set to shoot it in June in Georgia. I really feel that here at Cannes, there is great interest in the script. Also, The Fencer is selling much better after the Golden Globe nomination, so we are selling in quite a few territories.

There is a common factor with your sales: they tend to happen after the exposure that comes with the Golden Globes, the Oscars or the big festivals, while other, better-known territories do not necessarily need that to sell their films. How far away is Estonian cinema from getting that international recognition, regardless of the awards it receives?
I think we are quite close already. Last year at Cannes, we started to get a little bit more demand, and people seemed to know already that we are making good films. Of course, we need to remember that we are small, and we don't release that many films every year, so it’s maybe too much to expect that the whole world will just know about us. But I have a feeling that there is already a certain level of knowledge about Estonian films and about our ability to produce. We can give quite a high potential value to any film because we are not too expensive and the quality is visible on the screen. The Fencer was a very good example of this.

Can you share with us some more of the projects you are developing? Will you be co-producing with Georgia again?
I never say no to Zaza, as he is a really good friend of mine. Actually, he doesn’t know it yet, but I might have something new for him already. For the moment, we've just finalised the film by Toomas Hussar, an Estonian director whose first feature, Mushrooming, premiered at Karlovy Vary and Toronto. His new film is entitled The Spy and the Poet, and it is a drama with some comedy elements about an intelligence official who struggles with a Russian secret agent he falls in love with. Filmmaking is not a business in Estonia, and it rarely is in Europe at all. Quite a big part of our budgets comes from the state, and of course it gives you the flexibility and the artistic freedom to work on commercial successes, but also on smaller projects. We are going into production now with young Estonian director Lauri Lagle, with a tiny budget, which is really symbolic of the artistic filmmaking style we have in Estonia, and at the same time, we do the bigger projects with other directors. I would say it’s a rare privilege.

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