Tallinn Black Nights’ Industry Strand Goes Online, Physical Festival to Go Ahead

Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event, the Tallinn Black Nights film festival’s industry strand, is going completely online due to likely travel restrictions caused by the resurgence of COVID-19.

Travel around the world is in a state of flux in several countries, with varying quarantine requirements. While there have been no new cases in Estonia in the last 24 hours, there has been a resurgence of coronavirus cases in neighbouring Baltic countries, prompting caution from the Health Board of Estonia.

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Global film industry representatives will still be able to apply for access to all events, project pitches and films regardless of their geographical location. The platform for virtual screenings is Shift72.

“Following the discussions with Estonia’s health officials, it seems more than likely that there will be another outbreak in one form or another and that foreign travel will either be blocked or with restrictions,” said Marge Liiske, head of Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event. “This would not enable for our guests to attend the events properly and thus, with a heavy heart, we have decided from early on to not to take any risks and move all our activities online this year.”

“I believe that moving online also presents us with some new opportunities and also for the audience – we hope that even more film industry professionals than before are able to benefit from our program, as they do not have to travel to Tallinn to attend the events and they can access the content from anywhere at their best convenience,” Liiske added.

The program will be announced throughout September and October and submissions for all the industry events are now open.

However, preparations for holding physical edition of what will be the festival’s 24th edition are still underway, as the local health board is optimistic that a complete lockdown of cinemas can be avoided. But, there is a “high probability” that the program would be pared down this year. The festival will take a view on travel of international filmmakers and press according to the situation in October and November.

“We are doing everything in our power to hold physical screenings and bring over as many foreign guests as possible, but the virus and Estonia’s Health Board will have the final say in these matters,” said Tiina Lokk, the director and head of the program of Black Nights. “Some of the changes that are being prepared will actually rewire the festival’s DNA, making it more digital, networked, ubiquitous and inclusive than ever before. But first and foremost, we are hoping to make the physical festival still happen this year.”

The festival is due to run Nov. 13-29.

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