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Estonian-Canadian DOP Alar Kivilo to receive the Tallinn Black Nights Lifetime Achievement Award


Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) awards Estonian-Canadian DOP Alar Kivilo with the festival’s first Lifetime Achievement Award of the 24th edition. Kivilo’s decades-spanning work includes comedy "The Blindside" (2009) that brought an Academy Award to Sandra Bullock and WW II action-drama "Hart’s War" and Academy-Award-winning short film "Boys and Girls". 

Born in 1953 in Montreal into a family of Estonia emigres, Alar Kivilo began his cinematography career shooting documentaries and short films, including "Boys and Girls," which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short in 1984. Kivilo next began shooting music videos, which eventually led to commercials and the formation of his own company, Propeller. For the next ten years, he directed and shot many Bessie, Clio and Cannes Award-winning commercials. In recent years he has been directing and shooting the award-winning Newfoundland and Labrador tourism commercials: "Ancient Land" won a Gold Lion at Cannes for cinematography. In 1987, Kivilo lensed his first feature, "Da", followed by Sam Raimi’s "A Simple Plan" (1997).

He has since served as the director of photography on such films as "Frequency"(2000), "The Glass House"(2001), "Hart’s War"(2002), etc. For his work on the small screen, he received an American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Motion Picture/Mini-Series Television for the acclaimed HBO movie "Taking Chance" (2009), starring Kevin Bacon. Kivilo previously earned Emmy and ASC Award nominations for the HBO biopic "Gotti"(1996), and an ASC Award nomination for the miniseries "The Invaders"(1995). His more recent work includes feature film "The Land of Steady Habits" (2018) with Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Nicole Holofcener.

Throughout his decades-spanning career, he has shot actors like Kevin Bacon, Bruce Willis, Cameron Diaz, Colin Farrell, Keanu Reeves, Bridget Fonda, Billy Bob Thornton, Christopher Plummer, John Cusack, Donald Sutherland, etc.

Kivilo is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The American Society of Cinematographers, Canadian Society of Cinematographers, and Estonian Society of Cinematographers.
In 2012, Kivilo was a member of the Black Nights main competition programme jury.

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival’s director (Mrs) Tiina Lokk commented: ’I think it is quite difficult to not agree with the statement made by several Estonian journalists that Alar is internationally the most established filmmaker among Estonians. What I admire about him is the fact that he has not been keeping things to himself, sharing his experience and serving as an inspiration to young DOPs, proving that anything can be achieved, when talent and hard work meet!“

The festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award is an honorary accolade handed out each year to two people, a filmmaker or an audiovisual industry professional who has made a profound artistic or otherwise noteworthy impact on cinema at a regional and global level. Past winners include Andrei Konchalovsky, Liv Ulmann, Aki Kaurismäki, Arvo Pärt, István Szabó, Jörn Donner, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson, and many others.

Alar Kivilo will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the festival’s Award Ceremony on the 27th of November.
Selected filmography

Boys and Girls (1984, dir Don McBrearty)
Simple Plan (1998, dir Sam Raimi) Frequency (2000, dir Gregory Hoblit)
Frequency (2000, dir Gregory Hoblit)
The Glass House (2001, dir Daniel Sackheim)
Hart’s War (2002, dir Gregory Hoblit)
Aurora Borealis (2005, dir James Burke)
The Ice Harvest (2005, dir Harold Ramis)
The Lake House (2006, dir Alejandro Agresti)
The Lookout (2007, dir Scott Frank)
Year One (2009, dir Harold Ramis)
The Blindside (2009, dir John Lee Hancock)
Bad Teacher (2011, dir Jake Kasdan)
The Lucky One (2012, dir Scott Hicks)
Fallen (2016, dir Scott Hicks)
The Land of Steady Habbits (2018, dir  Nicole Holofcener)
The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020, dir Natalie Krinsky)



Alar Kivilo. Photo by Suzanne Hanover



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About Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Started in 1997, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has grown into one of the biggest film festivals in Northern Europe and busiest regional industry platforms, hosting more than 1000 guests and industry delegates and over 160 journalists. The festival screens around 250 features and more than 300 shorts and animations and sees an attendance of 80 000 people annually. In 2017 the festival was covered in 71 languages with a potential global media audience of over 1.1 billion people.

As of 2014 the festival holds the FIAPF accreditation for holding an international competition programme which puts the festival into the so- called A-category of film festivals, alongside other 14 festivals in the world (including Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, Shanghai, Tokyo etc).  

Black Nights has an umbrella structure with two sub-festivals PÖFF Shorts and youth and children's film festival Just Film taking place concurrently with the main festival,
two off-season festivals - Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival and Tartu Love Film Festival - and a fully-fledged film industry platform Industry@Tallinn, organised jointly with the Baltic Event Co-production market.

Black Nights Film Festival 16 Nov - 2 Dec
PÖFF Shorts 20 Nov - 25 Nov
Just Film 16 Nov - 2 Dec
Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event 26 Nov - 30 Nov



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