THE FENCER, directed by Klaus Härö is strory of a young man, Endel Nelis, that 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. Endel becomes a father figure to his students and starts teaching them his great passion – fencing, which causes a conflict with the school’s principal. Envious, the principal starts investigating Endel’s background…
Endel learns to love the children and looks after them; most are orphans because of the Russian occupation.
Fencing becomes a form of self-expression for the children and Endel becomes a role model. The children 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.
THE FENCER is Klaus Härö’s fifth feature film. Härö is one of the most internationally praised Finnish directors, and his films have been festival hits as well as audience and critic favorites both in Finland and Sweden.
Härö grew up in Porvoo, Finland, and loved films as a little boy. His love for them turned into a passion in his early teens and in 1999, Härö graduated with a master’s degree in directing and screenwriting from the Department of Film, TV and Scenography at the University of Art and Design Helsinki.
Klaus Härö received the Ingmar Bergman Award at the 2004 Guld-bagge Gala, the Swedish equivalent of the Oscars. This was the first time the award had been given to a non-Swedish director.
Härö then received a letter from Bergman himself in which the Swedish film legend thanked the young man for his excellent work in film.
Härö directed five feature films: Elina (2003), Mother of Mine (2005), The New Man (2007), Letters to Father Jacob (2009) and The Fencer (20015). Four of his films have been selected to represent Finland at the Oscars.