How an American Elephant turned into an Estonian Class

By Szyman Wackowski

    Warsaw (CentEast Daily News) -- Estonian director Ilmar Raag's The Class (Klass) - the local submission for the Oscar nominations as Best Foreign-Language Feature - may seem similar to the plot of US indie director Gus van Sant's The Elephant. But Raag says the message of his picture is entirely different.

    He admitted that during his studies, he wanted to make a movie about violence among students, and when he saw The Elephant he thought, "Van Sant got my film idea."

    Like van Sant, Raag was inspired by a real-life event at Columbine High School in the US state of Colorado, but the plot was mostly created during a 10-day workshop where Estonian students told about their own experiences.

    "In this way The Class is partly a true story. Apart from the ending that should be a warning what could happen in many schools nowadays," Raag explained.

    To him the most interesting was to seek the source of the violence - not giving a simple answer, but trying to explore it with a viewer. "And I have never gotten so many e-mails than after premiere of my film," he said.