PRODUCTION: Estonian Director Aljona Surzhikova Explores PTSD in Documentary Burn Pit

    Burn Pit by Aljona Surzhikova Burn Pit by Aljona Surzhikova credit: Diafilm OÜ

    TALLINN: The Estonian director/writer Aljona Surzhikova is in production with her current affairs documentary Burn Pit, which explores post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military and civilian veterans from Estonia, Ukraine and Norway.

    Burn Pit is a metaphoric symbol which stands for a special spot in the ground where everything related to human beings and operation during the mission is burned. In this case the burn pit is the soul of a soldier, which can be saved by human respect and help.

    "We tell the personal stories of Estonian, Ukrainian, Norwegian war veterans, who work on the big idea to find the best possible solution to reduce symptoms and improve function. Estonia has around 3.5 thousand armed veterans. The war in Ukraine continues and soon there will be around 1 million war veterans and potentially around 40 million civilians who will face PTSD", Aljona Surzhikova told FNE.

    Burn Pit is produced by Sergei Trofimov through Estonian Diafilm OÜ. Trofimov is also the cinematographer of the film.

    "When we started developing this film, there were more ecological and mental issues that interested us. Since 2022 brought massive and dramatic events, the focus of the film changed. It is our third project related to the war between Ukraine and Russia. Therefore, we witness the real effect of how such untold personal stories serve our audience to find the way to participate and contribute. PTSD and its continuing effects are a universal problem around the world", Sergei Trofimov told FNE.

    The project was financed by the Estonian Film Institute with 15,000 EUR and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia with 2,000 EUR in 2021. In 2022, the NGO Hand of Friend for Military People (MTÜ Eesti Kaitseväe veteranid) joined the project and supported the first opportunity to visit and film in Ukraine with the amount of 3,000 EUR.

    The total budget of the film is 221,000 EUR.

    Up to now the project has been shot in Estonia, Ukraine, Finland and Norway.

    “In 2021 we started to develop a story about Estonian war veterans who have served in Afganistan and Mali. While researching and developing the project we visited other Estonian veterans working in Lapland in the North of Finland. After the full Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, our focus changed. In September 2022, we visited Ukraine for the first time. In our team there was an Estonian veteran who was volunteering and helping Ukrainian refugees from the first days of war. In Ukraine we met a Norwegian soldier who was serving in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion. She became one of our main protagonists. In 2023 we followed her home and we met in Oslo while she was participating in a morning show at a local TV-station. We are also in close contact with our Estonian protagonists, whom we continue to film”, Trofimov also said.

    The producer is currently looking for coproducers, independent companies from EU and CIS countries focused on creative projects with international potential.

    Burn Pit by Aljona Surzhikova, credit: Diafilm OÜProduction Information:

    Diafilm OÜ (Estonia)
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    Director: Aljona Surzhikova
    DoP: Sergei Trofimov