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Estonian actor Lembit Ulfsak dies at 69

Actor Lembit Ulfsak.
Actor Lembit Ulfsak. Source: (Martin Dremljuga/ERR)

Prolific Estonian stage and film actor and director Lembit Ulfsak died aged 69 on Wednesday.

Ulfsak was born July 4, 1947 in Koeru. He graduated from Tallinn Secondary School No. 7 in 1966 and from the Performing Arts Department at Tallinn State Conservatory in 1970.

Ulfsak worked as an actor at the Youth Theatre from 1969-1978, at the V. Kingissepp Tallinn State Academic Drama Theatre from 1978-1985, at the Estonian Drama Theatre beginning in 1994 and as an actor and director at Tallinnfilm from 1985-1994.

He had played in countless films both in Estonia and abroad, including "Ukuaru" (1973), "Legend Ulenspiegelist" (1976), "31. osakonna hukk" (1980), "Kapten Granti otsinguil" (1985), "Doktor Stockmann" (1988), "Ma pole turist, ma elan siin" (1989), "Tulivesi" (1994), "Head käed" (2001), "Röövlirahnu Martin" (2005), "Mina olin siin" (2008), "Punane elavhõbe" (2010), "Rotilõks" (2011), "Üksik saar" (2012) and "Mandariinid" ("Tangerines," 2013) as well as played in countless TV dramas.

Ulfsak was recognized with a number of acting awards (including for "Oliver ja Jennifer," "Becket ehk Jumala au," "Ljubov Jarovaja," and "Müügimehe surm"). In 1989 he was named a Meritorious Artist of the USSR; in 2006 he was bestowed Estonia's Order of the White Star, 4th Class and in 2017 the Order of the White Star, 3rd Class.

In 2012, Ulfsak was voted male film star of the century. In 2015, "Tangerines," in which he played a leading role, was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category as well as a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

In 2017, Ulfsak won Estonia's National Lifetime Achievement Award for Culture. In their nominating statements, the Estonian Drama Theatre, the Estonian Film Industry Cluster, Theatre Vanemuine, the Estonian Theatre Association and the Association of Professional Actors of Estonia was called a charming and charismatic actor whose roles — from Ukuaru Aksel to the leading role in "Tangerines" — comprise a vivid gallery worthy of recognition. It was also stated that Ulfsak undoubtedly has had the most outstanding film career of any Estonian actor and that his talent has crossed borders. "There are few people whose work and talent have touched the hearts of so many people," the Estonian Film Industry Cluster added in their statement.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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