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Canadian Film Institute
Moving images.
Vehkleja (The Fencer)
dir. Klaus Härö
Estonia, 2015, 93 minutes
Estonian, Russian, with English sub-titles

30th European Union Film Festival
ByTowne Cinema, Sunday, December 6, 2015, 6:40 pm
The story begins in 1953, when the Soviet Russian secret police has forced numerous Estonian resisters into hiding, including Endel Nelis, who flees Leningrad and heads to the remote town of Haapsalu. There, ‘Comrade Nelis’ starts a new life. He accepts a job as a gym teacher, where his efforts to give his students a proper physical education are frustrated by a lack of resources. But when Endel, a skilled fencer, locates a few foils in the gym, he decides to start an after-school fencing club. Before long, the students slowly begin to learn and improve. While the community loves this new activity, the suspicious school principal decides to dig into the mysterious past that brought Comrade Nelis to this rural outpost. The principal’s investigation into Nelis’ ‘subversive’ past and the looming prospect of a fencing national fencing competition combine to generate incredible suspense. Inspired by the true story of Estonia’s legendary fencing master, Endel Nelis.