Mini reviews of 25 films seen at the 25th Leeds International Film Festival 2011 in order of screenings.

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The 7-part TV drama The Class: Life After (airing in Estonia on Nov 6) has been nominated for Prix Europa 2010 in the Television Fiction category.  The Prix Europa takes place 16-20 October 2010 in Berlin. The prize winners will be announced on 23 October during the Prize Giving Ceremony.

The continent’s largest competition was launched in 1987, based on the initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Cultural Foundation in Amsterdam. The PRIX EUROPA is awarded each year to the best European television, radio and emerging media productions with the aim of publicising them throughout Europe and supporting their distribution and use. The pan-European event is attended by well over 1,000 delegates from more than 40 countries.

Of the total of 543 submissions, 220 productions have been selected to compete in one of the 9 categories. As in production companies and broadcasters based in 31 European countries will compete for the respected awards as “Best European Production of the Year“.

See the list of TV Fiction category nominees here.


Updated October 26, 2010:

The Class: Life after did not win the main prize but we are very honoured to have been nominated. The Class: Life After  received 8th place out of 28 in the TV Fiction category which included both TV series and films, and 5th place amongst TV series.

The main prize Prix Europa in the TV Fiction category went to German war drama Ceasefire, Special Prix Europa to BBC’s Five Daughters and Sweden’s famous adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo received a Special Commendation. Congratulations!


Notes from BBC’s TV Drama Writers Festival held in Leeds 30 June – 1 July, 2010. The festival was organised by BBC Writersroom.

In this post:

  • Writer for Hire: How do you get original work on screen?
  • ‘They Won’t Like That’: Do we all try to second guess the commissioners?
  • In Conversation: TV Drama Read the rest of this entry »

Series producer Gerda Kordemets and actor Margus Prangel receiving the awards.

I’m very pleased to announce that the TV drama series The Class: Life After has won two awards at the RomaFictionFest 2010. The awards were for Best Product in the TV Drama section and for Best Leading Actor in the TV Drama section which went to Margus Prangel for his lead role in episode 2 titled “I Won’t Die Despite You” (directed by Gerda Kordemets).

The IV edition of RomaFictionFest was held 5-10 July 2010 in Rome.
The Class: Life After is produced by Estonian Public Broadcasting and will air on ETV in autumn 2010.

Last year, The Class: Life After also won the main prize Reflet d’Or for Best Series at the Cinema Tous Ecrans 2009 Festival in Switzerland.


European Broadcasting Union news
“The jury for the International Competition of the RomaFictionFest, chaired by Irish-Canadian actor A.J. Buckley (X-Files, Millenium), was impressed by the quality of the production and the incredibly realistic script and acting. The International Jury chose to honour The Class, Life After with the Award for Best Drama for the awards following reasons:

  • For the use of a spare, unobtrusive and nevertheless incisive gaze upon its subjects;
  • For the masterly tonal handling of a powerful and delicate subject matter;
  • For the courage and human insight on display in the writing, directing and bringing to life of Klass: Elu Pärast;
  • And finally for the overall artistic quality of the product which brought an innovative and highly cinematic experience to European television drama.”


The Class: Life After on IMDB
RomaFictionFest press release

Variety: Estonian telepic at head of ‘Class’

Estonian press:
ERR Uudised

Transcribed on day 1 of BBC’s TV Drama Writers’ Festival on 30th June 2010.

Poacher Turned Gamekeeper
Showrunners, the balancing act.

With Toby Whithouse, Tony Jordan, Alice Nutter and Stephen Butchard

Why is it important to be a showrunner?

They used to call them executive producers or creative producers but that title caused a lot of confusion because people didn’t understand it. It didn’t make it clear whether they’re writers or producers.

Tony Jordan: You’ve got one vision – it should remain with the creator, not hand it over to an ‘accountant’. Also, you’ve got no one else to blame if the script is not good.

Toby Whithouse: It’s important to know when to delegate. You leave the directing to a director who is a professional but the writer can have a say and make decisions about costume and other details. It’ll help keep the whole thing following the concept, one vision. That’s encouraging for writers.

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Notes from BBC’s TV Drama Writers’ Festival held in Leeds 30.06-01.07.2010.

Writers – a force for change?

With Jed Mercurio, Mark Catley, Nicola Shindler and Tony Marchant

Tony Marchant: Have writers lost the initiative? Do we just write for producers, commissioners and actors, what they want us to write?

Nicola Shindler: The saying „you’re only as good as your last project“ doesn’t apply. You’re only as good as your next project. Your history as a writer is not important, you’re not as good as your last thing but you’re as good as the project you’re working on now, the project you’re sending to the producers and commissioners. It also means that having a successful project in the past won’t guarantee you a commission. Great stories are more likely to reach the screens even if it doesn’t follow the latest brief from the commissioner.

Jed Mercurio: It’s harder to sell something to a producer if they haven’t asked for it. When the commissioner is looking for something specific, by the time the script has been developed and ready, they already want something different or there’s a new person on the top who wants other things. Therefore you need to write material that you’d like to see on screen, material that interests you and will therefore have better quality. You should write what you like (just bearing in mind the type of channel you want to offer it to).

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cinema tous ecrans 2009The 7-part TV drama The Class: Life After has won the main prize Reflet d’Or for the best series at the Cinema Tous Ecrans festival in Switzerland.

It’s the first time an Estonian TV series has been accepted into an international competition. It competed with 15 other shows from Finland, France, UK, Canada, Denmark, Brazil and US.

The first two episodes of the series were screened at the festival. Due to the economic climate and despite cutting the 12-part series down to 7, the production had to halt early last spring after filming had been completed on only four episodes. At the moment the production has resumed and filming will start early next year. The 5th episode was written in spring and it’s now in pre-production while I’m writing the last two episodes. The series will air on Estonian TV in autumn 2010.

The Class: Life After is a follow-up to the feature film The Class (not the French one) and deals with the aftermath of a school shooting. Each one-hour episode focuses on a different character who survived or witnessed the tragic event. There are kids from the class, their parents, the class teacher, a boy who survived the shooting, and finally, one of the culprits in the very last episode.

The series is produced by Gerda Kordemets (Estonian Public Broadcasting and European Broadcasting Union) and directed by Ilmar Raag, Gerda Kordemets, Liina Paakspuu, Priit Valkna and Marek Miil.


EBU on the award:
“The jury for the International Series, Collections & Long Dramas was particularly impressed by the series and wanted to reward it, along with more than 10 others, “for its structure and its extremely ambitious subject matter, together with the incredibly realistic script and acting.”
Eurovision Fiction congratulates ERR, Gerda Kordemets and Ilmar Raag and thanks them for providing the world of European fiction with ambitious programmes of such high quality.”

Cheltenham Screenwriters’ Festival starts on Monday (26.10), bringing together hundreds of screenwriters, producers, directors, agents, and sales agents for four days of seminars, discussions and networking. has kindly published articles to help writers get the most out of the festival.

Among some of the most notable guests are Armando Iannucci (author of The Thick of It, In the Loop), Simon Beaufoy (writer of The Full Monty and Slumdog Millionaire), Tony Grisoni (writer of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Red Riding trilogy), Doug Chamberlin (writer of Toy Story 2), James Schamus (CEO of Focus Features, producer of Brokeback Mountain), Robert Jones (producer of The Usual Suspects), people from Ealing Studios, Warner Brothers, Working Title, BBC, Channel 4, Optimum Releasing, lots of production companies and agencies.  There will be Speed Dating with Producers and Agents, Script Market, public events, and an EuroScript clinic for screenplays in need of a feedback fix.

More on the Festival website.

The currently 4-part TV series The Class: Life After has been included in the Official Competition of Cinema Tous Ecrans Festival.  The festival of film, TV and other media takes place in Geneva, Switzerland on November 2-8, 2009.
The Class: Life After is a follow-up to the feature film The Class (Estonia, 2007) and deals with the aftermath of a school shooting. Four out of seven one-hour episodes have been shot and edited and the project is still in production.

The Festival programme will be available from 22nd of October on the Festival website.