Could Kohtla-Järve be the perfect movie set?
The culturally intriguing town would make a perfect movie location for a number of different scripts.
Hills of ashes, an oil shale-fired power plant, and grim-looking apartment buildings. Sound like the perfect movie set for your next political documentary or thriller? That’s because it probably is!
Welcome to Kohtla-Järve, one of the most notorious and culturally intriguing places in Northeastern Estonia. Despite its relatively small population of about 35,000, Kohtla-Järve is home to a diverse cross-section of cultures: People from over 40 ethnic groups now call this town home, and only about 21% of are Estonian-born.
Economically and socially, Kohtla-Järve has been struggling for the past several decades, but it hasn’t always been like that.
The past and present of Kohtla-Järve are tied to the extraction of oil shale, the main mineral resource of Estonia. Local residents knew there was oil shale in Kohtla-Järve back in ancient times, but its industrial extraction began in the 20th century. Oil shale remained the town’s main — if not only — industry up until the Soviet Union collapsed and Estonia regained independence in the early 1990s.
At this point, the volume of oil shale extraction decreased dramatically, and Kohtla-Järve was plagued by an exodus: people moved to other cities due to high unemployment in the area.
Regardless of the social struggles of Kohtla-Järve — or more likely because of them — the culturally intriguing place would make a perfect movie location for a number of different scripts. Perhaps you’d want to film dramas with Soviet-era themes, or artsy-industrial social commentary shorts.
If you have anything that requires a grim kind of backdrop, with stunning-but-bland cookie-cutter apartments reminiscent of Soviet Russia, scouts and producers would be wasting their time if they didn’t at least take a look at the place.
One of the most eye-catching buildings in Kohtla-Järve is the Culture Centre, a well-preserved example of Stalinist architecture. The Centre was built in 1952 and thoroughly renovated in 2013 and 2014. This is a cultural hub of the region, providing shelter for numerous choirs, arts and music groups.
Another location worth scouting is the Kohtla-Järve Power Plant, which was commissioned in 1949–1967. When it first opened was the same time that the oil shale pulverized-firing combustion technology was implemented for power generation. All technical details aside, the power plant is quite a sight and could easily be made into a silent “character” in almost any movie script.
The Film Estonia production incentive supports the production of feature films, feature documentaries, animation films, animation series, high-end TV-drama and the post-production of all beforementioned works. To check if you are eligible for a cash rebate of up to 30%, simply submit an application for international production service or co-production.