EFM Returns with the Baltic States as "Countries in Focus" in 2023
In 2023, the European Film Market of the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival will return as an in-person event with a coalition of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania highlighted as “Countries in Focus”. It will be the first time that several countries have joined forces since the “Country in Focus” programme was established in 2017. Previous countries in the programme have been Mexico, Canada, Norway and Chile.
Upon the initiative of EFM Director Dennis Ruh, the official agreement was signed in Cannes on May 20 by the Berlinale’s Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek, Edith Sepp, CEO of the Estonian Film Institute, Laimonas Ubavičius, Director of the Lithuanian Film Centre and Inga Blese, Deputy Director of the National Film Centre of Latvia, who acted in place of Dita Rietuma, Director of the National Film Centre of Latvia. The signing ceremony was augmented by the attendance of Daina Urbanavičienė, Vice-Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Nauris Puntulis, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, and Tiit Terik, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Estonia.
The “Baltic Countries in Focus” programme will present Baltic filmmakers and filmmaking from various aspects. It will provide opportunities to network with Baltic producers, distributors, entrepreneurs and financiers as well as creative talents, and to explore recent films and media content from this Northern European region that shares cultural aspects, while at the same time each country draws on its very own history and advantages.
“In the history of the Berlinale, films from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have consistently added interesting perspectives to the Berlinale programme. The three Baltic countries have consolidated their individual strengths by joining forces and thus have set a great example in Europe and beyond. Especially in times of increased collaboration, artists and industry professionals alike can learn from the innovative and collaborative Baltic approaches to culture,” says Mariette Rissenbeek, Executive Director of the Berlinale.
“The Baltic countries themselves might be small in size, but rich and extensive in business opportunities for the film and media industries. They surprise us with their multifaceted film history and recent films and international co-productions on the one hand and with diverse shooting locations and state-of-the-art studio infrastructure on the other. That’s why we see a great opportunity for the future in getting to know these countries better, and we look forward very much to putting them into the spotlight at the next edition of the European Film Market,” EFM director Dennis Ruh comments.
The Estonian Film Institute’s CEO Edith Sepp states that, “In these changed times, it is important to show to the world that we are stronger together than alone. The strength of the modern world is in diversity and soft power, and we understood this in the Baltic countries many years ago, when we joined forces to promote our film industries together. The EFM focus in 2023 is the outstanding highlight of this long and valuable partnership between our countries and will enable Baltic films to flourish in Berlin for years to come.”
“We are thrilled that the cooperation of the film industries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia has entered a new dimension. The fact that the three Baltic States will be focus countries of the EFM 2023 is a significant event with great potential for the Latvian film industry as well. We hope to attract new cooperation partners by demonstrating the cinematic power of the three Baltic States,” adds Dita Rietuma, Director of the National Film Centre of Latvia.
“In a turbulent and one might even say dramatic period, culture is key to maintaining human principles. This is an important global showcase for both Baltic films and Baltic culture in general. We expect our joint efforts will lead to even better results. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania frequently cooperate in the field of film promotion. However, we are delighted to strengthen our relationships among neighbours still more through this focus and to present the creativity and European values of our works,” in the words of Laimonas Ubavičius, Director of the Lithuanian Film Centre.
The EFM will take place from February 16 to 22, 2023 during the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival.