The Fencer begins shooting in Estonia
by Laurence Boyce
- The film was recently announced as the recipient of co-production funds from the Estonian Film Institute
The new Estonian-German-Finnish co-production The Fencer [+see also:
interview: Ivo Felt
film profile] – which is partly based on the real life of Estonian sportsman and coach Endel Nelis – has begun shooting in the small Estonian town of Haapsalu.
In 1952, the young fencing champion Endel arrives in Haapsalu to work as a physical education teacher. But Nelis is an introvert and finds it difficult to communicate with his young pupils. In spite of opposition from the school’s headteacher, Endel gets permission to teach the children how to fence.
Soon, the fencing turns out to be a form of therapy for both the children and Endel, all of whom are dealing with a grim everyday post-war reality. But the vindictive headmaster holds a grudge against Endel and decides to find out the real reasons for his coming to town.
The Estonian-language film will be directed by Finnish director Klaus Härö, perhaps best known for his 2009 feature Letters to Father Jacob [+see also:
film profile], which screened at the likes of Busan and Estonia’s own Black Nights Film Festival. The screenplay has been written by Anna Heinämaa. The film stars Märt Avandi (who some will remember as the co-host of the 2010 European Film Awards when it was held in Estonia’s captial of Tallinn) in one of his first major feature-film roles and the legendary Estonian actor Lembit Ulfsak.
The production companies involved are Making Movies, Kick Film and Allfilm, and the movie’s budget is €1.9 million, €200,000 of which has been provided by the Estonian Film Institute’s International Minority Co-Production Fund (see news).