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BOX OFFICE Estonia

186 km goes a long way at home

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Andres Maimik and Rain Tolk’s dark comedy 186 kilometres [+see also:
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is the most popular Estonian film of the last five years, scoring 40,703 admissions in only two weeks from four screens.

The film also recorded the second highest-grossing opening weekend for any Estonian film and the fifth highest of all films distributed in Estonia, following Pirates of the Caribbean, Ice Age: The Meltdown, the 2002 Estonian film by Elmo Nüganen Names in Marble and Borat.

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Maimik and Tolk became local celebrities in 2000 with their television show Esto TV, in which fictitious characters meet real-life politicians and celebrities to create absurd situations à la Borat. Shot in a similar satirical vein, 186 Kilometres is their feature film debut.

Tolk, who was at last month’s Berlinale as Estonia’s Shooting Star 2007 (see interview), described his film to Cineuropa: “The film is based on the real life experience of Estonian actor Jan Uuspõld, who parodies himself in the film. The cast is partly professional, partly local celebrities (including the president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves). It is a classical road trip as well as a deeper, universal film about someone’s problems with alcohol, gambling, lying and how a person can turn into a media image instead of being a human being”.

The film was produced by Tolk and Maimik’s production outfit Kuukulgur Film.

In addition to 186 Kilometres, four other Estonian films have been released this year. The most successful was the US/Estonian documentary The Singing Revolution by James and Maureen Tusty (over 15,000 admissions). This brings the overall admission of Estonian films for 2007 to over 580,000 – more than one third of total admissions in 2006 (1.5 million).

After last year’s excellent results, which saw local films almost double their market share from 5.12% in 2005 to 9.17%, Estonian films are well on their way to breaking new records for the second year in a row. Quite a coup for a country that produces less than 10 feature films a year.

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