Entering the dark brown interior of a gigantic, dimly-lit hall, detecting the distinct smell of a bygone era, and hearing the sound of rainwater dripping through the structure, feels a lot like time travel. A mysterious, vintage atmosphere makes this place the perfect location for a sci-fi movie that lets time flow in both directions, and offers a fair share of brain gymnastics to the viewers – some of the great features of “Tenet” by Christopher Nolan.
Re-discover the city
More than 3000 people have attended the Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). Linnahall Tallinna Linnahall is a multi-purpose venue in Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). . tours and talks by the Estonian Architecture Centre since August to get a first-hand glimpse of the most impressive piece of Soviet monumental architecture in Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). and the film-set of a Hollywood blockbuster. This massive amphitheatre-style hall, with seats for 4200 people, stood empty for a decade, but has become a new attraction for architecture enthusiasts and film fans. The multifunctional space was built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics when its sailing regatta competition took place in Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). .
“Tenet’s” opening scene was filmed at Linnahall Tallinna Linnahall is a multi-purpose venue in Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). . . And under normal circumstances, the release of this Hollywood sci-fi action movie would have triggered a fan pilgrimage to this and every location. But in 2020, hopes for a new tourist attraction are overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit international travel severely. Fortunately, locals and some tourists were able to visit Tenet locations over the summer months and the Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). tourism office has compiled a special Tenet tourism route.
Not only did star director Christopher Nolan shoot in Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). , but part of the story actually took place in the Estonian capital. For instance, a scene set at the Maarjamäe Second World War Memorial – yet another piece of Soviet era architecture that has been neglected over the last decades, mainly due to its controversial historic interpretation. Architecture historian Carl-Dag Ligge points out the high architectural value of the memorial complex and hopes for a re-interpretation. Perhaps a prominent role in film will help locals to view the place from a new perspective.
The highway cut through limestone in Lasnamäe Administrative district in the east of Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). (pop. 119,000). – Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). ’s largest concrete block suburb – has become an attraction too, in homage to neck-breaking and time-defying stunts that were shot there in summer 2019. And, of course, anyone can hop a tram ride like John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, who shot a scene in centre city.
Kumu Art Museum is cast as a fictional “Oslo freeport” – the transit depot for art collectors and the mysterious time-machine. And railway tracks near Telliskivi district served as a backdrop to some violent scenes; belying the fact Telliskivi Creative City was a favourite hangout of the cast during the two-month shoot in Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). .
Major breakthrough for Estonia as filming location
“Tenet”, with a total budget of 205 million USD, is doubtless the largest movie project to film (partly) in Estonia. The amount spent here can’t be disclosed, but the expenditure provided employment for hundreds of local people and technical staff; furnished significant income to the accommodation, service and transport sectors, and gave a financial boost to restaurants and retail as well.
This production now stands as the greatest achievement of the cash rebate scheme, established by Film Estonia, Estonian Film Institute and Ministry of Culture in 2016; a programme that allows foreign film productions to reclaim part of their budget spent in Estonia. Nele Paves, Film Commissioner of Film Estonia, points out that these schemes are widespread throughout the world and encourage production companies to choose particular international locations and partners.
Paves noted that “Christopher Nolan’s name and a film like ‘Tenet’ draw a lot of attention. There are not many directors whose films are anticipated throughout the whole world with such huge interest. It’s the absolute top level and a great victory for all of us that we managed to attract the production of this film to Estonia. The credits of the film include many Estonians in key positions. Quite a few of them kept working on the project outside of Estonia and have received impressive offers from the international film world as a result of this project. The interest for Estonia as a film country and shooting location has truly leapfrogged.”
Apart from a few well-known Estonian actors there were thousands of extras involved, as well as hundreds of production staff in lighting, costuming, art direction, make up and more. The Estonian film community took a crash course in large-scale Hollywood production.
Nele Paves commented that “After serving such a big project we are really assured that, even as a small country, we can do big things. Film production always involves surprises at every step as part of the job. We learned how to adapt and adjust quickly, how to solve challenges and be prepared for surprises. We really did everything to make sure all goes smoothly.”
Meanwhile, “Tenet” has triggered further interest in Estonia as a film location. Paves explained that the project attracted notice from Hollywood and the movie industry in other countries. “It is a big achievement and progress in terms of bringing new productions to Estonia,” he said. “The film world is quite secretive, however, and large Hollywood projects in particular are kept well out of sight until everything is finalised. So, we can’t talk about these before the director calls ‘Camera. Action!’”
Paves’ job – to attract international productions to Estonia – was quite tricky at early stages when the potential of Estonia was unrecognised, but is easier now.
“Thanks to the success stories of the past few years and the good work of our film makers,” said Paves, “this is changing. But we are still small and unknown. The challenge is to turn this to our advantage as an exotic, new and exciting location for foreign film makers.”