Estonia’s Taska Film, Baltic Cinema Chain Apollo Team Up on Soviet-Era, Coming-of-Age Rock Drama ‘Dirt in Your Face’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Estonia’s Taska Film, the production company behind local box-office hits such as medieval crime thriller “Melchior the Apothecary,” hits Locarno’s Match Me! industry sessions with a slate that includes Jaak Kilmi’s “Dirt in Your Face,” a coming-of-age rock drama set in the twilight of the Soviet Union backed in part by Apollo, the largest cinema chain in the Baltic region.

The film follows 17-year-old Mihkel and his band as they go on a journey full of alcohol, protest and music to impress a Western producer visiting a rock festival in 1980s Soviet Estonia. In their struggle to keep the band together, the group inadvertently help split the Soviet Union apart. 

“Dirt in Your Face” is written by Martin Algus and based on the bestseller of the same name by Mihkel Raud, a former member of the ’80s band Golem (pictured) on whom the movie is based. It reunites the team behind the hit action comedy “The Dissidents,” which was released theatrically in the Baltics and Finland and was one of the top-performing films on Netflix in the region.

Pic is produced by Taska Film in co-production with Apollo Film Productions (Estonia), MRP Matila Röhr Productions (Finland) and Film Angels Productions (Latvia). The producers are Kristian Taska and Adeele Tähemaa and the co-producers are Tanel Tatter, Veiko Esken, Ilkka Matila and Janis Kalejs.

Tähemaa, who helped steward “Melchior” to box-office success during the pandemic, will be presenting the project at Locarno’s upcoming Match Me! networking forum, which takes place Aug. 4 – 6. She described “Dirt in Your Face” as “a true story, an honest story and a story of unlikely heroes and how youthful inconsideration got the history moving faster than all the planning and calculations of the wise.”

“The late ’80s, the final years of the Soviet Union, all left their mark on the world. For so many European countries, this controversial but interesting time was the breaking point for a better future and finally tangible freedom,” she continued. “Our story is an inside view of the youth in a society that longed for freedom and finally sang itself free.” 

Taska Film has produced some of Estonia’s top theatrical hits, including the World War II action drama “1944: Forced to Fight” and the spy thriller “Dawn of War.” The company is currently in pre-production on “Life and Love,” a 1930s-set romantic drama from director Helen Takkin, and is co-producing a forthcoming period drama from Finnish director Klaus Härö, whose last film, “My Sailor, My Love,” premiered last year at Toronto.

“We have produced over half of Estonian top box office hits, but our ambition is to be more and more visible outside of Estonia and our neighboring countries,” said Tähemaa. “We try to make films from stories that tell something new for Europe and for the world, without losing our loyal local audience.”

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