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Estonian-set historical drama named as Finnish Oscar hopeful

The Finnish Oscars jury praised The Fencer as a classically-controlled, unified movie that finds optimism, humanity and beauty in a tragic period of history.

Kuva elokuvasta Miekkailija. Opettaja ohjaa oppilasta, jolla on miekka kädessä.
Image: Tuomo Manninen / Nordisk Film

The Fencer has been selected as the official Finnish feature candidate for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Oscar Awards. A drama set in Soviet-occupied Estonia, it was directed by Klaus Härö with a screenplay by Anna Heinämaa. It is Härö’s fifth feature film – and his fourth to be nominated for an Oscar.

Klaus Härö istuu Kajaanin Biorexin salissa.
Härö Image: Eeva Pentikäinen / Yle

The Fencer stars Estonian actor and comedian Märt Avandi as shy fencing champion from Leningrad who arrives in the small coastal town of Haapsalu in 1952. Defying the headmaster of the local school, he teaches children the ancient art of fencing – spurring speculation as to why he has appeared in the town.

The Finnish Oscars jury praised The Fencer as a classically-controlled, unified movie that finds optimism, humanity and beauty in a tragic period of history.

German prize in July

Produced by the Making Movies studio, the  99-minute film debuted in Finland in March. In July it was awarded the German Film Award for Peace in Munich.

The Academy Awards finalists will be named on January 14 ahead of the February 28 awards ceremony.

Last year, director Selma Vilhunen's comedy Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? became the first Finnish movie ever short-listed for an Oscar award. It was a finalist in the Best Live Action Short Film category at the 86th Annual Academy Awards ceremony. Vilhunen subsequently became the first Finnish member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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