11 February 2021

COVID-era productions: highlighting 6 films and series recently shot in Estonia

The second wave of COVID-19 is currently hitting Estonia hard but amidst the pandemic, some of the productions, international ones included, have still managed to continue shoots with safety regulations in place. We are looking at six exciting upcoming projects that have recently been or are currently shooting in Estonia, several of them hoping for an autumn release. Whether you are looking for content or international production options, this article will provide some mention many of the companies in North Star Film Alliance countries – Estonia, Finland and Latvia – that are open to international coproductions and the incentives that are eligible for foreign production companies.


Melchior the Apothecary

Photo by Robert Lang

Setting murder mysteries into the context of Medieval Tallinn, Melchior the Apothecary series is an adaptation of an Estonian bestseller series by Indrek Hargla that follows a 15th-century pharmacist who is also a self-made detective. Consisting of either three films of six TV episodes (both are options according to the producers), the first film, titled Melchior the Apothecary started shooting in Tallinn’s Old Town, followed by various locations in Estonia and Latvia. In the story, Melchior is out to solve the murder case that involves a renowned knight and three people attached to the Dominican monastery.

The adaptation is written by Elmo Nüganen (also the director of the film), Olle Mirme and Indrek Hargla and produced by Taska Film, Nafta Films, Hansa Film, Apollo Film Productions and the German Maze Productions with Film Angels Studio handling the Latvian shoots. The project receives support from the Estonian Film Institute and the Riga Film Fund. The first film is set to premiere in October 2021.


Kill the Child

Photo by Renee Altrov

A US horror thriller with a religious central motif shot in various locations around Estonia – enough to get us excited! The story of Kill the Child follows a young Russian nun Yulia who has allegedly conceived twin boys while being a virgin. Assisted by a progressive priest Father Fox she escapes from Russia to avoid Saul, a mercenary sent by the Catholic church’s secret society Vox Dei to deal with the children who are considered as sacrilegious. The rural Estonian village they take refuge in will soon start experiencing strange events…

Boosted by the support of the Film Estonia cash rebate, Kill the Child is produced by the US company World’s Fair Pictures with Estonia’s Homeless Bob Productions offering production services. The crew is headed by third-time director Lee Roy Kunz as the leading director and writer and Cru Ennis as the producer and co-director with the Estonian Tambet Tasuja heading the editing.


The Sleeping Beast

Photo: Heikki Leis

A thriller for children with a moralistic crime twist? With The Sleeping Beast director  Jaak Kilmi (The Dissidents,  Disco and the Atomic War) and scriptwriter Aidi Vallik are out to tell a story that touches on themes not often depicted in children’s films. A group of children living in a South Estonian village where the only way to fill their days is to play in an old factory complex – something Elmar, the guardian of the complex, doesn’t approve of. When Elmar is involved in an accident, the children have to face the questions of wrong and right.

Backed by the Estonian Film Institute, the film is produced by Estonia’s Stellar Film and Latvia’s Studio Locomotive with ACME Film in charge of the distribution, the film is in post-production and set to hit cinema screens in autumn 2021.



Photo: Allfilm

In 1990, during the final days of the Soviet Union, a Soviet Estonian basketball team called Kalev made history by winning the Soviet league title. Featuring the journey of that played an important part in the national political awakening for Estonians, the makers of the sports drama Kalev is are currently waiting to shoot the mass scenes that were left undone due to the pandemic surge.

Directed by debutant Ove Musting Kalev, is produced by Estonia’s Allfilm and Latvia’s Ego Media, backed by the Film Estonia cash rebate, while also supported by the Riga Film Fund, as Latvian cities Riga and Jurmala feature in the film alongside numerous Estonian locations. The premiere is planned for September 2021.


Erik Stoneheart

Photo: Amrion

Becoming the most expensive production of an Estonian film with Estonians and lead producers, the film Erik Stoneheart is almost wrapped shooting. The story centres around 11-year-old Erik who thinks he has a stone for a heart. When his parents move to a new house, the boy meets a girl of his age named Maria (Florian Gussak). Together the kids embark on a journey to the In-Between-World where they learn about the true meaning of friendship. The film was shot in Luxembourg and Estonia with Tuomo Hutri and Ivar Taim as DoPs. To help bring the fantastical world to life, production designer Kari Kankaanpää had to create a life-size model of a pirate ship – the location for the flick’s most significant action scenes.

Directed by Ilmar Raag (The Class; An Estonian Lady in Paris), Erik Stoneheart’s 3.5-million-euro production is led by Amrion, in co-production with Luxembourg’s Paul Thiltges Distributions, Lithuania’s Uljana Kim Studio, Finland’s Helsinki-filmi Oy and Latvia’s Locomotive Productions. The film has been supported by Film Estonia cash rebate, the Viru Film Fund The premiere is slated for February 2022.


Bad Apples

Photo: Stellar Film

The Finnish psychological drama series Bad Apples, supported by the Film Estonia cash rebate, started shooting in Estonia in July and finished in September. Directed by Marja Pyykkö (Man and a Baby) and Pamela Tola (Swingers), the story is set in a 1970s mental asylum where a student activist Onerva (Satu Tuuli Karhu), forced to take part in experimental psychiatric treatments for women, starts to question the procedures and methods of Doctor Lundsten (Santeri Kinnunen).

Bad Apples, produced by Fire Monkey Productions, with Estonia’s Stellar Film as a service producer, will be available on Elisa’s VOD platform Viihde next year. The show is made in collaboration with the Finnish Film Foundation and Nelonen Media while Lagardère Studios Distribution will handle international sales.

“People sometimes talk about the ‘good old days’, and we thought that it might be good to remember that the old days were not necessarily good. At least not for all of us. For example, if you were a woman, and one labelled with hysteria or paranoia.”
Executive producer Mikko Pöllä to Cineuropa


Read More:

COVID-era Productions: 6 Finnish films and series to look forward to

COVID Productions: 6 Projects Recently Shot in Latvia to Anticipate