Directed by Ilmar Raag (Klass; Une Estonienne à Paris) and starring Herman Avandi (his first film role), Florin Gussak (her first film role), Laura Peterson-Aardam (her first film role), Claire Johnson (Toy Gun; Rusty Boys; The Runway; Girl with a Pearl Earring) and Jules Werner (The Merchant of Venice; Doudege Wénkel; Superjhemp retörns; Capitani (TVseries)).
Family adventure; 99 mins; 6+
Erik (Herman Avandi), an eleven-year-old boy who apparently has no friends and believes that he has a heart of stone, arrives with his parents to a spooky chateau which is to be their new home. They haven't explained why they have moved, except to explain that they were left the house by their aunt Brunhilda (Claire Johnson) whom they described as strange. Her portrait hangs in Erik's bedroom, and she speaks to him, warning him about the house. Although he is forbidden to go into a certain area, he meets Maria (Florin Gussak) and her father (Jules Werner) whom the audience feels are about to be evicted by Erik's parents.
As children, they start to play together and Maria activates her secret plan to bring back her missing mother to save her and her father from eviction. They find themselves at sea and then on board a pirate ship where Maria's mother is the Captain (Laura Peterson-Aardam). Erik and Maria realise that they are in the "In Between-World" where they start to learn about true friendship.
A wonderful adventure, mixing elements of Stranger Things (the "Upside-Down") and Pirates of the Caribbean, amongst others. The pirates were over-the-top and Erik's and Maria's characters both developed in meaningful ways as the film progressed, leading to a conclusion which neatly tied up the loose ends.
Arguably the best Luxembourg co-produced children's film since the 2014 Netherlands-Luxembourg co-production Secrets of War, directed by Dennis Bots and co-produced by Tarantula in Luxembourg.
The Luxembourg premiere on Saturday 15 October 2022 was preceded by CinEast organiser Radek Lipka welcoming the director who was there in person, and co-producer Paul Thiltges who introduced the film; he proudly announced that this was the first Luxembourg-Estonia co-production. He revealed that it was one of the most expensive Estonian children’s films, also that it was only the second post-COVID film to be allowed to shoot in Luxembourg - the interiors of the ship were shot at Filmland in Kehlen. He also revealed that studio hackers caused chaos at one stage but thankfully the damage they caused could be recovered. He also thanked Kinepolis / Ciné Utopia and Film Fund Luxembourg, as well as CinEast.
Ilmar Raag said he was delighted with the collaboration with Paul Thiltges Distribution and revealed that this film had a Luxembourg actor speaking Estonian; he also recalled that ten years ago, one of his previous films was selected as the opening film at CinEast, the first year that Estonia had been involved in this film festival.
Erik Stoneheart will go on general release in Luxembourg on 30 November 2022.