Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga - out now!24 June 2020 at 16:12 CEST
The feel-good, romantic comedy is about 2 small-town, aspiring Icelandic musicians, Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), who are given the chance to chase their popstar dreams at the Eurovision Song Contest. The 123-minute long movie also features stars like Melissanthi Mahut, Mikael Persbrandt, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson and Graham Norton.
Dan Stevens, who plays Russian character Alexander Lemtov, said: “It’s really interesting talking to grown-ups who don’t know what the Eurovision Song Contest is - often Americans or Canadians."
But how much do these non-European actors and creators know about the Contest?
Writer and star-of-the-show, Will Ferrell, said, "The Eurovision Song Contest is a music competition that I think has been going on since the mid to late 1950s and was started as a way to get post-World War II Europe together and unified."
The Contest began as the brainchild of Marcel Bezençon of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the first competition was held in 1956. It was based on Italy's Sanremo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology. As war-torn Europe was rebuilding itself in the 1950s, it was also a way to bring countries together.
What about fellow writer, Andrew Steele?
“It started, with I think, 5 or 6 or 7 [countries] - Italy, France, Germany, England - maybe the Netherlands and it’s built and built and built until I think there are somewhere in the 40s now," Andrew said.
(Mostly) right again!
The first Eurovision Song Contest, held in 1956, had 7 participating countries including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. However, the United Kingdom was not one of them. They entered the competition in 1957, which has now grown to include over 40 participating countries.
And what does super-star-singer Demi Lovato (who plays Katiana) think Eurovision is all about?
“Eurovision, from my understanding, is an international competition and the best song from each country participates in this competition and then only one is the winner… and the winner will host it the following year.”
In a nutshell - yes!
Participating countries select the performer or performers and a song to compete with and the winning country (usually) hosts the competition the following year. These days, the rules dictate that there can only be 1 winner, however, this was not always the case.
Lead actors Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams shared with us their first experience of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Will Ferrell first encountered Eurovision in 1999 when he visited Sweden (where his wife is from) in the spring of 1999. "We sat down for 3 hours and watched this crazy show... I thought some of this would make a great movie. And low and behold, the Swedes won that year - I think Charlotte Nilsson.”
The first time Rachel McAdams heard about the Contest was the first year that Conchita Wurst won. "I was always kind of intrigued by how excited countries got about their contestants and the kind of groundswell behind that - and the support - and countries voting - and all that sort of stuff. I found that really intriguing and kind of inspiring."
So do we, Rachel, so do we!
What do the other cast and crew members think about Eurovision?
Pierce Brosnan, who plays the character of Erick Ericksson, said: "There is something to be seen and enjoyed because you have all the European communities coming together with their number one act and you have these fantastic performers who give of themselves and give of their heart to win this great accolade - so it’s extremely entertaining."
Producer Jessica Elbaum thinks the Contest is, "genuinely, like, wildly entertaining. I think that sometimes the music is really, really good; sometimes the dancing is really, really good; I think that it’s just fun and I’m sure it feels very communal - like you’re a part of something.”
Demi Lovato further emphasized this point: “I think it’s really beautiful that there is something like Eurovision that brings people together... when you are able to turn something like a negative experience and turn it into something positive by bringing people together through the universal language of music - I think that’s so beautiful and powerful and inspiring.”
Perhaps Jessica and Demi could be referring to all the Eurovision Home Parties like this, or the time when Europe shined it's light - or maybe even the time when the loyal and supportive Eurovision fans dressed up for this!
Director David Dobkin believes that "the competition is not even a competition of sorts. It’s a celebration. That’s the sort of thing that I think is so great about Eurovision."
We couldn't agree more!
You can watch what the cast and crew have to say in this video below:
Eurovision Song Contest: Story of Fire Saga is a Gary Sanchez/Gloria Sanchez production, in association with the EBU is available globally on Netflix since Friday 26th June 2020.