We’re in Los Angeles right now, me and Zaza, showcasing and babbling, says a sleepy producer Ivo Felt over the telephone. I did call towards the evening... but it’s obviously early hours on the West Coast.
With director Zaza Urušadze, Mr Felt is in the middle of a two-week tour aimed at advertising «Tangerines», the movie. A non-English speaking film, it has been presented by Estonia to go for an Oscar and, as far as we know, this is the first time an attempt is underway to go beyond just showing it.
The modest goal is make it to the shortlist i.e. the nine so-called finalists, from which the American movie academy will be picking its five nominates. All in all, 83 countries have filed a movie for the non-English Oscar.
«This is top complicated, but not impossible,» says Mr Felt. «We are trying to make us of the movie’s positive backdrop in North-America – without that, we’d never had tackled it.»
Since the end of last year, the movie has been screened in Palm Springs, Seattle, Wine Country, San Francisco and Montreal festivals, where favour has been shown to it by audience and critics alike.
The campaign will total eight special shows, with American movie academy, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, guilds, and media representatives invited. One will happen in New York, the rest in Los Angeles. And all will also be advertised in movie industry outlets.
Mr Felt says a couple of shows are already history – for example, the movie was shown separately to Hollywood Foreign Press Association which issues the Golden Globes also sought for by «Tangerines». «It went very well. To put it modestly, I may say they obviously liked the movie,» said Mr Felt.
«At the moment, the press is keeping us among the 20, but let’s see,» he added.
Also by The Awards Circuit and Indiewire, the film is regarded not as a favourite but a possible surprise and one that stays in the game.
The entire campaign is planned to cost €60,000 and it is arranged by the agency MediaplanPR – one specialised in award campaigns of non-English speaking films. Among others, they have assisted the Oscar nominations of Belgian movies «Bullhead» and «Broken Circle Breakdown».
Mainly, the money is spent on arranging the shows and advertisement, but also to pay the agency and cover travel costs.
Up to now, foreign ministry remains the largest supporter with €20,000. Culture ministry has donated €10,000, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia gave €4,800 and Georgian National Film Centre €10,000. On top of that, the production studio Allfilm has filed an application to Estonian Film Institute for €10,000 and has invested its own funds as well.
«Even if we aren’t winning, there are the benefits: introducing Estonian movies,» said Edith Sepp, head of Estonian Film Institute.