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International Fencing Film Begins Shooting in Haapsalu

Märt Avandi
Märt Avandi "Vehklejas" Source: Annika Haas

The multinational film project “Vehkleja” (Miekkailija in Finnish, The Fencer in English) started shooting in Haapsalu, bringing together Estonian, Finnish and German filmmakers.

The film is about Haapsalu’s legendary fencing master Endel Nelis, played by Märt Avandi.

For more than half a century, kids in Haapsalu have considered fencing training as commonplace as the sea surrounding the little resort town. This is all due to Endel Nelis, who founded a fencing dynasty that has raised several top fencers, ETV reported on Tuesday.

Avandi admitted that he had not heard of the man before he started on the project, but has since learned Nelis is widely respected in the field.

The story of "The Fencer" is fiction but is loosely based on Nelis‘s eventful life.

The project is a co-operation between Estonia, Finland and Germany, with all three countries contributing to the two-million euro budget.

The director of the film is Finn Klaus Härö, who has received the Ingmar Bergman Prize and whose films have twice represented Finland in the race for the Foreign Language Film nomination at the Oscars. His most recent film, "Letters to Father Jaakob," won the Best Director Prize at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in 2009.

The cast is mostly made up of Estonian actors and the film is scheduled to be completed next year.

Estonia is currently the world champion in both men's and women's fencing, picking up gold medals at the 2013 World Championship in the individual epee event.

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