2016 (Not Rated) 99 min. Finland/subtitles
Director: Klaus Härö
Cast: Märt Avandi, Ursula Ratasepp, Liisa Koppel
A young man, Endel Nelis, arrives in Haapsalu, Estonia, in the early 1950s. Having left Leningrad to escape the secret police, he finds work as a teacher and founds a sports club for his students. Endel becomes a father figure to his students and starts teaching them his great passion – fencing, which causes a conflict with the school’s principal. Envious, the principal starts investigating Endel’s background. Endel learns to love the children and looks after them; most are orphans as a result of the Russian occupation. Fencing becomes a form of self-expression for the children and Endel becomes a role model. The children want to participate in a national fencing tournament in Leningrad, and Endel must make a choice: risk everything to take the children to Leningrad or put his safety first and disappoint them. Based upon extraordinary true events.
“Finnish Director Klaus Härö has a sharp eye, and his shots deftly juxtapose the delicate beauty of the Estonian lowlands with the harsh reality of life under Soviet rule.” – Mais Silber, WASHINGTON POST
“The performances are excellent and Härö directs with a clean hand, pushing toward a suspenseful, stirring climax that hinges on the team’s success as well as Endel’s freedom.” – Randy Cordova, ARIZONA REPUBLIC
“Suffused with gorgeous cinematography, the sharp sweet drama is Finland’s foreign Oscar entry and a pleasure to watch.” – Kate Muir, THE TIMES OF LONDON
“An affecting portrait of a decent man who risks his life to uphold a bond of trust with his students.” – Marilyn Ferdinand, CHICAGO READER