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“We have always been inspired by the close relationships between parents and children”

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Andres and Katrin Maimik • Directors

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- KARLOVY VARY 2017: Estonia’s Andres and Katrin Maimik talk about their second feature, The Man Who Looks Like Me, and the warm reception it got when it premiered to Karlovy Vary audiences

Andres and Katrin Maimik • Directors

Cineuropa caught up with Estonian directorial duo Andres and Katrin Maimik, whose debut feature, Cherry Tobacco [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, screened at Karlovy Vary in 2014, and who have returned to the festival with their new film, The Man Who Looks Like Me [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Andres and Katrin Maimik
film profile
]
. The movie, the story of an estranged father and son who must deal with returning to each other’s lives, had its world premiere in Karlovy Vary’s East of the West competition.

Cineuropa: What inspired you to make The Man Who Looks Like Me?
Katrin Maimik:
We met some acquaintances in the western part of Estonia. The environment was one of the first sources of inspiration. It’s a surreal place: endless hay plantations by the sea, where the cows eat grass and local men build motorcycles for climbing up hills, even though there are no hills in this part of Estonia. One of the villagers decided to pull a small ship out of the sea and plant it in his backyard. For us, this village was the best place in the world to locate a movie.

Secondly, we have always been inspired by the close relationships between parents and children, and looking at the conflicts and struggle for power in those relationships. We all deal with these concerns with our parents, but we also know one parent who is an extremely colourful person, and some of the film was inspired by him.

Andres has worked with Rain Tolk, while Roman Baskin is another well-known Estonian actor. Were the roles written with them in mind?
Andres Maimik:
We did not have the actors in mind when we were in the very early stages of writing the script, but as we re-wrote the story, we became quite certain that we wanted to use Rain and Roman. We were able to rewrite the characters so that they matched the personalities of Rain and Roman. Of course, both actors also had good stories about a relationship between parents and children, because both of them had a difficult relationship with their father.

Was it easy to get funding for the film?
KM:
Our last feature, Cherry Tobacco, was comparatively easy, and we managed to get everything together for that quite easily. The Man Who Looks Like Me was a more complex affair, and therefore, the film’s preparation time was a lot longer as well. We were actually working on it before Cherry Tobacco, developing scenarios in workshops and doing several drafts. We then managed to get funding through the usual channels in Estonia and were able to make the film.

Was shooting tough?
AM:
The film was shot in Estonia, in a village near Pärnu, and partly in Tallinn. We had two shooting periods, summer and autumn, and we had a total of 35 shooting days. We’d written a scene where there would be a storm and a flood, and it was extraordinary, as on the very day we were meant to shoot that scene, a real storm hit our main location. We were in the eye of the storm and in the centre of a flood. We had a crew member with a 40-degree fever trying to wade through ice-cold water, and me holding a light reflector trying to see something in the stormy night. At one point, I sank completely underwater, leaving just the light reflector above the water.

How was the reaction at Karlovy Vary after the premiere?
AM:
The film was received warmly: people have praised the movie’s humanity and the believable characters, as well as the atmosphere of this Estonian coastal town.

What is next for you?
KM:
We are currently developing a movie script called In Hotels – the film will take place in hotels in different cities around the world. The movie follows a married pair of actors who can no longer bear to be with each other and without each other. They are invited to a theatre festival in Lithuania; the woman wants to find her desperate husband a young lover. But when her husband begins a relationship with a young Lithuanian woman, she finds that her feelings change. We can see the fragmentation and disintegration of their relationship in these different hotels located in different cities.

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