2017 saw two sub-festivals of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) – Animated Dreams and Sleepwalkers – join forces under one banner PÖFF Shorts, which ran from 21st-26th November, became the newest festival in the Baltics dedicated to short films and animation. At an award ceremony held in Tallinn’s Kino Sõprus on Saturday 25 November, the winners of the first edition of PÖFF Shorts were announced.

The Animated Dreams International Competition saw Estonian animation studios Nukufilm and Eesti Joonisfilm presenting Heino Pars’ Nail, an award named after the legendary Estonian animator. The award was designed by Estonian animator Riho Unt. The winner will also receive full accreditation, accommodation and travel to PÖFF Shorts in 2018.

A special mention went to AMONG THE BLACK WAVES (Dir. Anna Budanova, Russia) for being “A highly poetic take on a northern tale, accompanied by mesmerising graphic style which shows such a steady and confident hand of such a young artist. The crafted drawn animation takes us on a dark ride to the bottom of the sea, from which we can only reflect on life’s cruelties.”

The winner was OROGENESIS (Dir. Boris Labbé, Spain / France) of which the jury said: “It is not so often that an abstract experimental film manages to catch the attention over narrative works. However, this film did stand out. It elegantly built a subtle mix between simple landscapes to complexed abstraction, followed by a total soundtrack that left us emotionally triggered with a new perspective on time and space.”

The jury for the Animated Dreams International Competition consisted of Mati Kütt (Estonia), the renowned Estonian animator, Yves Nougarède (France), a member of the selection committee at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, and Uri Kranot (Denmark), a filmmaker and the main tutor and content supervisor of AniDox:Lab.

The Sleepwalkers International Competition highlighted the the best live action fiction and documentary films. A special mention was awarded in this section to Joanna Rytel for her film STAY UPS (Sweden) which was praised by the jury for “Honesty, courage of being emotionally naked and injections of dark, sophisticated humour. A film that does not rely on facial expressions of characters, but leaves room for viewer’s imagination; a film that is not afraid to show hidden feelings and deal with family issues in a unique, brave way.”

The winner – which receives a prize from Canon – was Ukrainian film TECHNICAL BREAK (Dir. Philip Sotnychenko, Ukraine) for “… bold, transgressive and emotional filmmaking that integrates both style and substance and works on various levels, including social criticism, gender roles and contemporary reality of a post-soviet country, employing innovative and smart use of cinematography and unfolding as an emotional slap in the face.” The film received its International Premiere as part of PÖFF Shorts.

The Sleepwalkers Student Competition – with a prize sponsored by Playstation – was awarded to THE LAW OF AVERAGES (Dir. Elizabeth Rose, Canada). The jury said they gave the award  “As an appreciation of the courage to make a comedy that talks to international audiences, has well-written, funny and human characters, is flawlessly professionally crafted and employs intellectual humour about serious subjects such as death and family relationships.”

The jury for both the Sleepwalkers International and Student Competitions was made up of Rain Tolk (Estonia), the actor and director most known for starring in Autumn Ball, which was awarded the Orizzonti prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2007, Liene Linde (Latvia), the Latvian director whose latest short Seven Awkward Sex Scenes. Part One was chosen to be part of Future Frames at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, and Enrico Vanucci (Italy), short film advisor at the Venice Film Festival and a short film programmer at Torino Short Film Market.

The Animated Dreams Student Competition saw a special mention go to BARBEQUE (Dir. Jenny Jokela, UK) for a movie “…with rich visual artistry which led us to unexpected journey.”

The main prize – sponsored by Sony – went to SOG (Dir. Jonatan Schwenk, Germany) because, in the words of the jury,  “The movie creates in a very impressive way an imaginary world, which borders with prehistoric and fictional. This draws you in and leaves you in bewilderment.”

The jury was comprised of Märt-Matis Lill (Estonia), head of Estonian Composers’ Union whose compositions can be heard in numerous films, theatrical and dance productions, Clémence Bragard (France), a programmer and general coordinator of the Festival national du film d’animation for AFCA and a moderator of Annecy International Animation Festival, and Aleksey Savinsky (Russia) an animation curator, the founder of St.Petersburg Theater Laboratory “Like Theater” and Insomnia animation festival.

The PÖFF Shorts National Competition saw both animations and live action films competing side by side for the first time. A special mention went to ISA [MAN TO MAN] (Dir. Mihail Lustin, Estonia) as the jury were “… really stunned by the narrative concept.”

The winner  – with a prize sponsored by Overall – was MOULINET (Dir. Sander Joon, Estonia) of which the jury said “We agreed unanimously on the winner of this category in less that one minute and we discussed the reasons for more than one hour. So we reached the point that there are some things that we can’t understand no matter how hard we try.”

The jury was Reet Aus (Estonia), the fashion and costume designer well known for her work in fashion, theatre and film, Anna Zača (Latvia), a curator, programmer and project manager for Short Riga and Clémence Bragard (France), who also serves on the Animated Dreams Student Competition Jury.

The 2017 edition of PÖFF Shorts took place from 21st-26th November 2017 at various venues around Tallinn, Estonia. It is a sub-festival of the Black Nights Film Festival which takes place 17th November – 3rd December 2017

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) is a unique event combining a feature film festival with the sub-festivals of animated films, short films and children/youth films. The festival aims to present Estonian audiences a comprehensive selection of world cinema in all its diversity, providing a friendly atmosphere for interaction between the audience and filmmakers from all around the world.