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 students 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.




The Fencer

Original Title


Production Year





99 min


Estonian, Russian, Armenian



Märt Avandi


Ursula Ratasepp


Liisa Koppel

Jaan's grandfather

Lembit Ulfsak



Klaus Härö


Anna Heinämaa

Director of Photography

Tuomo Hutri

Production Design

Jaagup Roomet

Costume Design

Tiina Kaukanen

Key Make-up artist

Tiina Leesik


Kai Nordberg, Kaarle Aho


Ivo Felt, Jörg Bundschuh


Finnish entry for the Oscars,
shortlisted for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar 2016

Nominated for a Golden Globe
in Best Foreign Language Film category

Bernhard Wicki Peace Prize,
Munich Germany 2015


Cambridge Film Festival, UK 2015

International Film Festival by the Sea, The Netherlands 2015

Cinefest Sudbury’s 27th Edition, Canada 2015

Beirut International Film Festival, Lebanon 2015

Festival du Film Historique Asbl, Belgium 2015

Sao Paulo International Film Festival, Nordic Focus, Brazil 2015

Kyoto Historica International Film Festival, Japan 2015

Arras Film Festival, France 2015

Northern Film Festival, The Netherlands 2015

Cairo International Film Festival, Egypt 2015

India International Film Festival, Goa, India 2015

Chennai International Film Festival, India 2015

AFI EU Showcase, Maryland/Washington D.C Area 2015

Una Finestra Sul Nord, Finnish Film Festival, part of the 50 days of International Cinema in Florence, Italy 2015

Palm Springs International Film Festival, California USA 2016

Nordic Lights Film Festival, Washington D.C. USA 2016

Santa Barbara Film Festival, USA 2016

Mill Valley Film Festival, California, USA 2016

Chennai International Film Festival, India 2016

Göteborg Film Festival, Sweden 2016

Portland International Film Festival, Oregon, USA 2016

San Diego Film Festival, VIP Series Year Round Events, California USA 2016

Glasgow Film Festival, Scotland, UK 2016

Sedona International Film Festival, Arizona USA 2016

Estonia Film Days, Moscow, Russia 2016

Boulder International Film Festival, Colorado, USA 2016

Chicago European Union Film Festival, Illinois, USA 2016

The 12th Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival, Norway 2016

Cleveland International Film Festival, Ohio, USA 2016

Titanic Budapest International Film Festival, Hungary 2016

European Representation in Finland 2016

Washington D.C. Film Festival, USA 2016

Nordic Film Days / The Nordic House, Reykjavik, Iceland 2016

Belgrad Finnish Film Week, Serbia 2016

Consulate General of Estonia, Saint Petersburg, Russia 2016

Nordic Film Series, Luxembourg 2016

DGA Global Cinema Series, Los Angeles USA 2016

EU Film Festival, Bangkok, Thailand 2016

Olympic Day, Fencing Club Screening, New York USA 2016

Ischia Film Festival, Italy 2016

South Bay Film Society, USA 2016

Stony Brook Film Festival, New York, USA 2016

European Union Film Festival, Myanmar 2016

Nordic Film Week in Saint Petersburg, Russia 2016

Cox’s Beach International Film Festival, Bangladesh 2016

Ghent Film Festival, Nordic Focus, Belgium 2016

New Scandinavian Cinema Series, Portland, Oregon, USA 2016

St. Louis International Film Festival, Missouri, USA 2016

Embassy of Finland / EU Film Festival, Argentina 2016

Shadows of the Mind Film Festival, Ontario, Canada 2017

Cinemateket, Klaus Härö Retrospective, Oslo, Norway 2017

San Ramon Friday Foreign Film Series, California, USA 2017

Tønsberg Filmklubb, Norway 2017



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