Estonian student film made history at HÕFF

The European Short Film Competition of the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival was won by a student flim for the first time in its history: Raoul Kirsima's "Eyes on you".

In a black-and-white 15-minute horror film, an elderly woman living alone feels like she is being watched. Even her son cannot convince her otherwise.

Cinematographer Sven-Sander Paas, camera operator Fidelia Regina Randmäe, production designer Greta Laanet, editor Villem Roosa, sound director Kaspar Kosk and producer Sander Lebreht are all students of the Baltic Film, Media and Arts School of Tallinn University.

Laine Mägi, Ott Aardam and Peep Kirsima star in the short.

"A mesmerizing, bold and thought-provoking story of the horrors of the human brain. The film, which takes place in a timeless black and white world, is hard to forget," summed up an international jury of Marta Pulk, Aik Karapetjan and last year's winner Anders Elsrud Hultgreen.

The Silver Méliès Prize will send the film through to the final of the Best European Short Fantastic Film competition, named after the legendary French film illusionist Georges Méliès. Oskar Lehemaa's “Bad Hair", which won in 2019 in Haapsalu, has been the only Estonian film to travel there so far. The competition is organized by the Méliès International Festivals Federation.

The special prize went to the Danish director Casper Rudolf Emil Kjeldsen's horror film “In the Soil”.

From today until May 8, all eight films that took part in the competition can be viewed in the PÖFF online cinema, which is available to all Estonian residents via the Elisa web platform Elisa Stage. In addition, the collections of short films "Scary Estonia" and "Little Nightmares" will appear on the screen of the online cinema.

Another student film from Tallinn University, Silver Õun's short drama "Talent", also won the award for the best Estonian genre film . "In addition to extremely aesthetic shots and professional film language," Talent "was able to evoke the emotions that every horror-themed film should evoke - shock and horror. A harsh mirror image of society,” summarized the jury, which included young people from Haapsalu, Erko Puskar, Marie Keldrima, Märt Õiglas, Anastasia Nevski and Ralf Lamp.

“Loop” won the award for the best science fiction film at the festival. "An animation with a modern drawing style, which at first glance is a bit like a music video, especially in terms of tempo. The light and fun story is multi-levelled with a bit allegorical intrigue, conveying the message that no matter how complete the illusion of the system is, that it controls all its parts, it is still an illusion. The inspection is never complete or lasting,” was the reasoning of the jury of the Estonian Science Association. The jury consisted of Veiko Belials, Jüri Kallas and Kalver Tamm.

Mart Sander's bloody "The Sixth Secret" won the festival's audience award. The winner was chosen for the first time through an online platform that involved the audience, through which their emotions could be shared - “The Sixth Secret" collected the most. The new web platform has been developed by Estonian start-up company Votemo.

"It seems that the audience has returned to the cinema, which we are extremely happy about," said Helmut Jänes, the head of HÕFF.

The Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival took place from April 29 to May 1. The festival is organized by the Black Nights Film Festival, the city of Haapsalu and the Haapsalu Cultural Center.

The main sponsor of the festival is Elisa.