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Behind the Iron Curtain
Behind the Iron Curtain follows the journey of three young women from very different backgrounds into the chaotic world of the Soviet music industry – against the expectations of their parents, to the annoyance of the authorities, simultaneously competing and forging lifelong friendships.
Leaving her child with the parents who disowned her is the only way Marilin can join an international singing contest and make her way towards stardom and independence through newly-formed friendships and painful letdowns, dazzling successes and destructive excesses, in various republics of the Soviet Union and its dangers of censorship and treacherous culture of complaint.
A group of young hopefuls gather in an international singing competition. It's outside the official events, however, there is an underground music scene played in untitled clubs. Soviet censors and militia interrupt the party on more than one occasion. Everyone has their own agenda, cassette tapes are hard to come by but music gets copied illegally, sheet music is smuggled in, and lyrics are collected in notebooks. While anything foreign is forbidden, it doesn’t mean Western hits don’t get translated and recorded overnight. There is a market and there are people who know how to make money. Our young singers enjoy the limelight but soon learn the shadows it casts - not getting to choose their music, having to entertain the members of the Communist Party, snitching on behalf of the KGB, being pressured to rat on one’s friends… When Ieva wins the competition, no one is happy, including herself - and no one wants this absurd yet alluring carousel to be over.
When we started creating this nostalgic postmodern musical drama, our wish was to dive into our past - the hidden cultures controlled by dictatorships, bringing the absurdness of life and the lies that glued it all together into the daylight. It will definitely be a form of emotional escapism for those who grew up with these memories and songs, but also a political commentary that embraces, critiques, and challenges the story of the people living behind the Iron Curtain. From the empty stores to the forbidden cities and colourful scenes of the underground movements, there existed an illogical and irrational, but amusing world. I wanted to focus on the story of duality. How does one cope with the yearning for freedom – mental, physical, creative – and stand up for one’s beliefs? How did we really do it? And could we lend those glasses to look at ourselves today, in the world of political correctness, cancel culture and fake news. One always needs to know how to read between the lines.
Helen Lõhmus is an Estonian producer, production designer, and director serving both domestic and international productions and clients. Starting out her career in 2004 in television she moved to film production after serving as a production and costume designer for the Russian Walt Disney Company’s production of a high school drama Posle Shkoly (After School), in 2012. Lõhmus served as producer and production designer for a Lao-Estonia-France co-production Dearest Sister (dir. MattieDo) which was nominated for Oscars in 2017.
Kelly – Someone Else’s Dream, 2024, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt13213184/ Birthday Girl, 2024, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt19883220/ The 100 Candles Game, 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt12739994/ Dearest Sister, 2016, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4701908/ After School - Walt Disney, 2012, https://www.kinopoisk.ru/series/655939/
René is a Danish producer who graduated from The National Film School of Denmark in 2003. Afterwards, he was employed at Nordisk Film, where he produced a wide range of feature films and TV series. In 2022 he founded the production company Stikling Film.
The Investigation, 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9112152/ Queen of Hearts, 2019, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8378126/ A War, 2015, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3830162/ April 9th, 2015, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3542188/ Manden med de gyldne ører, 2009, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1535505/
Leana Jalukse (1979) is an Estonian screenwriter and script consultant. Her debut film Mother (2016) premiered internationally in competition at Tribeca, USA, won Best Feature in Kitzbühel, Austria, Best Estonian Feature at Tallinn Black Nights, Estonia, was selected Estonia’s national entry for the Oscars, and was nominated for Best Screenplay at Estonian Film and TV Awards. She is a founding member of the Estonian Screenwriters’ Guild and a member of the Estonian Filmmakers’ Union and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.