The fencer

The fencer

DVD - 2018 | Estonian
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Fleeing from the Soviet secret police, Estonian fencer Endel Nelis returns to his homeland and finds work as a children's sports instructor. Quickly becoming a role model to his students, Nelis begins teaching them competitive fencing techniques despite the objections of school administrators. When the children are invited to a fencing tournament in Leningrad, Nelis must make a choice: put his safety first or risk everything to take the children to the competition.


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Apr 16, 2019

An excellent and eloquently understated story of community in Estonia after WWII and the Soviet invasion. A former champion fencer flees to a rural community and obtains a basic teacher job, hoping to put his past behind him. He finds the school sports program in shambles. Despite being warned to be inconspicuous, he decides to train the unsophisticated students in what's derided as an elite sport. With the exception of a grand finale boisterous competition in Leningrad, the Finnish director advances the story by subtle touches: a gift of gloves; a foil unboxed; a lone vote inspiring others; late-night knocks on the door that condemn people to the gulags; the meager yet lively farmers' market. This film gives a sense of what it was like living in a Soviet Russia-era satellite and how its citizens managed to find joy and hope in subverting the demand for drab uniformity. Note: In Estonian and Russian, with English subtitles. Family-friendly/PG.

Dec 08, 2018

Beautiful film! Top notch story, cinematography and cast. Highly recommended (even if you don't like fencing)

Oct 12, 2018

A fabulous heart-warming true story. An inspiring teacher displays the true meaning of courage and his students repay him in kind. Apparently, the fencing club this teacher began is still in existence.

Sep 01, 2018

All the previous comments described this uplifting period drama very well. Apparently based on real characters and events told between the relationship of a new teacher and his students in that unique historic era. Perfect foreign film for all in the family. That little girl who played Marta stole the show.

Aug 04, 2018

Lovely movie. "BritCrime" and "Olga" said it perfectly!

Jun 01, 2018

Quiet, subdued, yet triumphant story of a young man whose past is catching up with him, through no fault of his own. The oppressive times under Stalin shaped many lives, and this is one example. Having been a dissident earlier, Endel has escaped to Estonian's hinterland. He now teaches fencing in a middle school, and struggles to balance living a normal life with students who depend on him, having a relationship with a young woman, and hiding his earlier activities from the principal of the school who has loyalty to the State. Slowly we come to know this man, his reserve of strength, and the children and woman who melt his stoicism in the face of his challenges. We also learn of the injustice of the times and realize that many were not as lucky..

Jun 08, 2017

A beautiful film. Based on a true story, the actors were incredibly believable, including the children and youngsters.
Some moments of great tension, as the post World War 11 oppressive Stalinist era is portrayed, without violence, but, the fear is palpable
The fencing classes and competitions are superb.
We highly recommend this movie.


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Sep 01, 2018

With all due respect, how can I run a sports club without any equipment?
-I really don't know. I couldn't say. You have the degree from Leningrad, not me.
What are you doing?
- Practicing.
What are you practicing?
Is it difficult?
- Yes, it is quite difficult.
Could you teach me, maybe? I wanted to go to ballet school, but we don't have one here.
- What's your name?
- I can't teach you, Marta.
Why not?
-Because there's no point in fencing alone!
You won't even let us try!
- It's not that simple, Marta.
It is! We wanna go, but you won't let us!
- Look, Marta...
You think we're no good?
-No, that's not it...
Why then?
- It's not that you're not good. You are good. But it will be tough. We've been
practicing for a very short time. And you're not quite ready yet for...
Don't go away anymore! Promise? We don't want to fence alone.

Sep 01, 2018

I feel as if I've been running all my life... And I'm tired of it.
-So instead you want to be sent to Siberia to die?
What should I say to the children? What should I tell them? I can't let them down! They trust me like a...
- A father?
Yes, like a father.
-Do you know how many of them have fathers? Have you asked?
Yes, I have!
-Toomas' father is dead, and so is Marta's! She looks after two little ones, while her mother works two shifts! Jaan's father is missing and now they took his grandfather! I saw their faces when they heard that their fathers will not come back. That wasn't even the worst part. It was the endless, useless waiting! You can't go!
Maybe that's why I need to go...

On March 5th, 1953, Joseph Stalin died. Millions of prisoners were gradually released from labor camps. ... Endel Nelis died in 1993, two years after Estonia's independence and the fall of the Soviet Union. The fencing club he started still exists today.


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Apr 16, 2019

Violence: Implied violence as the Stalin Secret Police cart away innocent citizens to the gulags.


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