An audience favourite at the recent Scandinavian Film Festival, Klaus Härö’s elegantly crafted, multi award-winning drama is set in post-war, Soviet-occupied Estonia, and movingly depicts the true story of fencing master Endel Neils, who risked his life to give a group of children something to believe in.
It is 1953, and Endel (Märt Avandi) is on the run. With his war-time affiliations catching up with him, he eludes the secret police in Leningrad and flees to a remote Estonian village. There he tries to keep a low profile by taking a menial job in the sports department at the local school, but his efforts to give the students a proper physical education are quickly frustrated by a lack of resources.
But once Endel – a skilled fencer – locates a few foils in the gym, he starts an after-school club for the kids, who for their part are eager to learn. Yet the strong rapport he builds with his young students only raises the ire of the party-loyalist school principal, who’s already suspicious of his past. Soon it’s impossible for Endel to avoid attention. Bearing similar themes and emotional impact to 2012’s Monsieur Lazhar, this beautifully acted and stunningly-shot film is a deeply affecting and memorable story of compassion, sacrifice and bravery against the odds.
Estonian, Russian, Armenian language, English subtitles
Release Date: November 24, 2016
Running time: 1hr 39mins