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. Before long, he’s developed a deep affection for his charges, mostly war orphans, and starts coaching them on foil control and legwork at an afterschool club. Endel becomes a father figure to his students, which causes a conflict with the school’s principal.
When several kids show promise and skill, they 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.
This Finnish-Estonian-German co-production, directed with vim by Klaus Härö, unfolds in the early 1950s, a period that’s still a raw wound for many who survived Soviet oppression under Stalin.
Dir: Klaus Härö, 2016, Finland-Estonia-Germany, 1hr 39min. PG. Subtitles.
Stars: Märt Avandi, Ursula Ratasepp, Hendrik Toompere Sr.