Best Foreign Language Film
Golden Globes
An affecting portrait of a decent man who risks his lifeto uphold a bond of trust with his students.


The Fencer

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 them 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.

“Suffused with gorgeous cinematography, this sharp-sweet drama is a pleasure to watch.” – Kate Muir, The Times of London

“Well-acted, smoothly crafted.” – Justin Chang, Variety
Not Rated
Drama, History, Sport
Estonian, Russian, Armenian
Klaus Härö
Ursula Ratasepp, Märt Avandi
Nominee, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
Joe Bendel, Epoch Times

Throughout the film, Härö vividly captures a sense of the late Stalinist-era paranoia, as well as the drabness of Soviet life in general. It is also engaging on a human level. These are reserved people, but when they make a connection, it is meaningful.

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