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Estonia Dreams of Eurovision

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Critics' Reviews

AMG Review
Josh Ralske
Marina Zenovich is the kooky star of her entertainingly loose-limbed documentary, Estonia Dreams of Eurovision. The film provides an intimate look at a phenomenon, Eurovision, and a country, Estonia, which most Americans are unfamiliar with. The song contest is similar to American Idol, but with the added tension of national pride being at stake. Zenovich can be a little glib in her commentary, but her film is both engaging and touching as she explores the country's colorful characters. After Dave Benton and Tanel Padar win the 2001 contest, Benton, a struggling soul singer from Aruba who's trying to make a home in Estonia, still has to take an ad out in the newspaper to prove he's not an illegal immigrant. Padar wins the contest with a cheesy pop song, but risks his musical career because he really wants to play rock. His sister, Gerli, competes to represent Estonia in the 2002 contest, and Zenovich captures her gleeful hostility at recognizing the pilfered melody of a competitor's song. Mart Sander, Estonia's biggest and most versatile celebrity, is beset by rumors about his sexuality and loses his chance to host the international broadcast. At one point he jokingly tells Zenovich that if she pays him enough, he'll have sex with a dog. Tanel's egocentric manager, Ular Palm, tells Zenovich he runs the biggest music company in the world, and, despite Zenovich's polite contradiction, he refuses to back down from the insane statement. Zenovich's film takes a more serious turn as she briefly explores the harsh economic realities of the country's newfound embrace of capitalism. Estonia Dreams of Eurovision uses Zenovich's uniquely playful perspective to do everything a documentary should do. It's an informative and drolly pleasurable little film. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi
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