The existence of Eesti Joonisfilm Studio could be considered the reason and the consequence simultaneously. As a consequence, the studio carries the experience acquired over a long period of working with cartoon (cel) animation onward in Estonia while at the same time being one of the more important inducers of the uniqueness of contemporary Estonian animation.
The experience and ambitions of Eesti Joonisfilm are applied in two directions – according to the appraisal of its owners, balance has been achieved in the studio’s production between high-quality (non-violent) family films intended for a broad audience and the production of films d’auteur, or festival films that are comprehensible for a narrower audience. The films from both directions completed at Eesti Joonisfilm have achieved international success.
The unique characteristic of Estonian auteur animation is considered to be consistency in applying the co-effect of caricature, absurd humour and rationality, and playfulness, individuality, and a multifaceted approach in telling stories. All these traits are present in the works of Eesti Joonisfilm’s permanent authors Priit and Olga Pärn, Ülo Pikkov, Priit Tender and Kaspar Jansis. According to critics, films by Eesti Joonisfilm’s authors treat children like grown-ups and grown-ups like children (Jaan Ruus). Janno Põldma, Heiki Ernits and Andrus Kivirähk, the authors of the Lotte series films for children and the whole family, have set their main task in direct contrast to entertainment industry standards. Their aim is to create a film out of interwoven stories that continuously holds children’s interest and gives them surprises in such a way as not to use the bad custom originating from times immemorial of spicing the action with violence.
Founded in December 22, 1993
When the state enterprise Tallinnfilm Studio, under which Eesti Joonisfilm operated as part of that state-run film studio, lost its status as a state-funded organisation backed by Moscow (Estonia regained its independence in 1991), the logical step at that critical moment was to continue operating as an independent private studio.
Specialists and crafts personnel work as permanent staff at the studio: animators, clean-up and in-betweens artists, colourers, and a 3D animation department also operate at the studio. Film creative crews are put together for each film on the basis of separate contracts.
Eesti Joonisfilm has direct and indirect predecessors in the history of Estonian film:
– The Adventures of Juku the Puppy. Black and white grotesque with a sound track. Authors Voldemar Päts, Elmar Janimägi and Aleksander Teppor. Considered not so much the moment when original Estonian animation was born but rather as an example of the enterprising spirit open to broader standards in Estonia of that time.
1947 – 1958
- Tallinnfilm Studio titles animation department. Elbert Tuganov worked here for eleven years before he started up Estonia’s first animation studio – Tallinnfilm’s puppet film studio. Rein Raamat, the founder of Tallinnfilm’s future cel animation studio, worked as the art director on Estonia’s first puppet film Little Peter’s Dreams (1958).
1964 – 1970
- Three animated stories for the Soviet Union’s satirical Süütenöör (Fuse), animated commercials for Eesti Reklaamfilm (Estonian Advertising Film), two cartoon animation films for Eesti Telefilm (Estonian Telefilm). The authors were Kalju Kurepõld, Ants Looman, Ants Kivirähk and Jaak Palmiste.
1971 – 1994
- Tallinnfilm’s cel animation film studio. Founder and primary director Rein Raamat. Estonia’s first cartoon animation films Veekandja (The Water Bearer) and Vari ja tee (The Shadow and the Road) (1971, art director Rein Raidme). Rein Raamat, Avo Paistik and Priit Pärn became the studio’s core authors.
Eesti Joonisfilm achieved international recognition with Rein Raamat’s films Lend (Flight, 1973, art director Aili Vint) and Kütt (The Hunter, 1976, art director Rein Tammik). Raamat’s most momentous films turn out to be Suur Tõll (Tõll the Great, 1980, art director Jüri Arrak) and Põrgu (Hell, 1983, artist Eduard Wiiralt). Priit Pärn is Estonia’s most internationally recognised and awarded filmmaker. Pärn’s films from this period that earned the most awards are Eine murul (Breakfast on the Grass, 1987) and 1895 (1995 together with Janno Põldma).
Alongside the studio’s core filmmakers, Ando Keskküla, Rein Tammik, Peep Pedmanson, Leo Lätti, Heiki Ernits, Valter Uusberg, Mati Kütt, Riho Unt, and Airi Eras had the opportunity to make their first animated films at the studio.