Estonian documentary 'Kerro 40' goes global

A flyer advertising a Friday screening of
A flyer advertising a Friday screening of "Kerro 40" in Paris. Source: Aljona Suržikova

Providing a peek into life in the Estonian countryside, documentary director Aljona Suržikova's half-hour documentary "Kerro 40" is going global, with screenings scheduled in Europe, Africa, Asia and America, including one in Paris on Friday.

The 28-minute documentary is part of Estonian Stories, a series of 12 short documentaries produced for ERR each year. According to a press release, "Kerro 40" documents the positive and entertaining side of living in Käru, a typical Estonian village in the countryside.

Kerro is the name of Estonia's oldest pereklubi, or family club, which over the decades has been the venue for generations of cultural events organized by Käru residents and celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.

According Suržikova, "Kerro 40" was recently screened at the Indian World Film Festival, where it earned a Special Mention Diploma; the documentary was also included at the Hollywood Screenings Film Festival in Los Angeles.

On Friday, April 20, the documentary will be screened at the Around International Film Festival (ARFF) in Paris, and in early May it will be screened at the Addis International Film Festival in Ethiopia.

It is much easier today to apply for various festivals, the director said. Ten years ago, the process involved a lot of paperwork and mailing out copies of the DVD; today, films can be entered online for inclusion in festivals worldwide.

"For me, this film is important because I think that Estonian culture is very interesting and Estonians are very friendly people," Suržikova said. "Not all films need to be in the first-class festivals. Documentary filmmakers often think that only Cannes, Berlin or Amsterdam are important for your film history. But in my opinion, if you do film for people, for the audience it is better to go to any festival than to stay at home."

Suržikova lived in Käru, a small village in Central Estonia, while shooting the documenary. "When I found out that such a wonderful club exists there, I was surprised," she recalled. "Then Ilme Säde, a librarian and Kerro club activist, suggested that I make a movie. There are not many places where people are prepared to invest their time and energy into making other people happy — where they come together, dance, and get ready for their party."

"Kerro 40" premiered on ETV on Feb. 5.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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