The Fencer | Salt Lake City Weekly
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  Rated NR · 99 minutes · 2015

Historical drama
It’s a familiar tale, but in a setting we haven’t seen before: Teacher inspires underdog kids to succeed in a sport where they have no prior experience—but in early 1950s Estonia, a Soviet republic suffering under Stalin’s harsh regime. Endel Nelis (Märt Avandi), in hiding from the secret police in a small town, takes a job teaching phys ed in the secondary school. Nelis is meant to be keeping his head down, but he can’t resist passing on his passion for fencing. The kids are traumatized—many have been orphaned in the Soviet occupation—and Nelis needs to learn how to be a good teacher. Hearts will be thawed, then thoroughly warmed all around by the end—which, if it doesn’t bring a lump to your throat, might mean you’re one of the cold Soviet drones who are the villains here. Based on a true story—the real Nelis is a national hero in Estonia, where fencing is extremely popular—this joint Finnish-German-Estonian production, Golden Globe nominee in 2016 for Best Foreign Language Film, is a beautiful, finely wrought production with terrific performances all around.


Staff Rating:
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Director: Klaus Härö
Producer: Kaarle Aho and Kai Nordberg
Cast: Märt Avandi, Kirill Käro, Ursula Ratasepp, Liisa Koppel, Joonas Koff, Egert Kadastu, Elbe Reiter and Ann-Lisett Rebane

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