~ Photo above courtesy of The Little Film Co.
Directed by Finnish filmmaker Klaus Härö (“Letters to Father Jacob”, “Mother of Mine”), “The Fencer” is a movie with a bit of everything: a thriller, love story and inspirational teacher tale based on a true Cold War episode, about an Estonian fencing champion on the run from the Soviet secret police. This film manages to find optimism, humanity and beauty in a tragic historical era.
The narrative is inspired by the story of Estonia’s legendary fencing master, Endel Nelis, who founded a dynasty and nurtured several world-class swordsmen. Working under a pseudonym as a physical education teacher in a tiny Estonian village, Nelis instructs his pupils in the art and sport of fencing. When the kids push for their team to participate in the national competition in Leningrad, Nelis must choose between his safety and his true vocation.
“Unfolding under a cloud of suspicion and paranoia fostered by the postwar Soviet occupation, this well-acted, smoothly crafted drama tells a story of cross-generational bonding in the face of historical oppression,” said Justin Chang, film reviewer for Variety Magazine.
The film, with a running time of 99 minutes, was a finalist for the 2016 Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film. “The Fencer” is in Estonian, Russian and Armenian with English subtitles.
Dr. Michelle DenBeste, interim dean of the Fresno State College of Social Sciences, will lead the post-screening discussion. Parking is free after 4 p.m. on Fridays. INFO: Dr. Mary Husain at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the CineCulture website. See original press release.