Estonia Dreams of Eurovision (2002)

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High-spirited American director Marina Zenovich (Who Is Bernard Tapie?) takes a look at the phenomenon of the Eurovision Song Contest, and its impact on one tiny country, in her BBC-produced documentary, Estonia Dreams of Eurovision. Zenovich, on camera herself for much of the film, arrives in the capitol city of Talinn knowing little of Estonia, and the short video travelogue the BBC provided is little help. She finds a country that is still trying to find an identity since being freed of Soviet rule. Many hopes ride on the country's success in the Eurovision Song Contest. The long-standing annual event, responsible for launching ABBA's international career, was won by Estonia in 2001, earning the little country the right to host the 2002 event. But Zenovich soon learns that 2001's winning singing duo -- Dave Benton, one of the few black people in Estonia, and Tanel Padar, boy band-ready and years younger than Benton -- are no longer on speaking terms. Padar and his management had a falling out with Benton and his, and their winning song was never put out on a record. Zenovich also uncovers a controversy involving the choice of a host for the 2002 event. The charming, erudite Mart Sander, Estonia's most well-known actor/singer/game show host, has been mysteriously passed over in favor of Marko Matvere, another actor whose English is not as good. Zenovich spends a lot of time with Sander, who denies that rumors about his sexuality had an impact on the choice. Zenovich also covers the intense competition to represent Estonia in the 2002 program, in which Gerli Padar, Tanel's sister, is the favorite. Estonia Dreams of Eurovision had its U.S. premiere on The Sundance Channel.