The Estonian submission to the U.S. Film Academy Foreign Language Oscar is Liina Triškina-Vanhatalo’s drama Take It or Leave It.
“The selection process gets more interesting year after year,” said the CEO of Estonian Film Institute (EFI) Edith Sepp
, who led the committee that made a decision out of the seven films in the selection. “There were two films produced for the Estonia 100 program among the selectees. Comparing the current situation to where we were a year ago, then the biggest advance for Estonia is that we are now producing feature films of such different themes and our production capacity is quite high.”
The committee consisted of culture critic Tõnu Karjatse
, film director Kadri Kõusaar
, producer Maie Rosmann-Lill
, cinematographer Mait Mäekivi
, film critic Tristan Priimägi
, film distributor Siim Rohtla
and EFI CEO Edith Sepp
. The decision was to send the Liina Triškina-Vanhatalo written and directed debut film Take It or Leave It
. The choice was supported by five of the seven members of the committee.
Take It or Leave It
was produced by experienced Allfilm producer Ivo Felt, who has had two films sent to compete for the Foreign Language Oscar. Tangerines
(directed by Zaza Urushadze) made it to the 2015 nomination list and The Fencer
(directed by Klaus Härö) made the short list in 2016.
According to the committee, Triškina-Vanhatalo has tackled the complicated and serious themes of single parenthood, inter-country economic inequality and the latent migration found in developed, Western countries as well as the age-eternal, human responsibility we have for our own future as well as that of our close ones.
“This film sticks out for its approach to socially important issues, which feels fresh and new in our modern film world,” Sepp said.
The film is about 30 year-old construction worker Erik who unexpectedly finds his ex-girlfriend at his door with the message that she has given birth to their daughter. The woman isn’t ready to be a mother so, if he doesn’t want the child, she’ll put her up for adoption. Take it or leave it! This long, complicated, at times even comical path to becoming a father turns a regular man into an everyday hero, a Superman who is ready to fight for his fatherhood with tooth and nail. The main character is played by Reimo Sagor for whom this is a feature film lead role debut.
“The story should speak to a wider audience than Estonia and Eastern Europe because the whole western world is faced with the same problem today,” the committee said. “Producer Ivo Felt has once again turned out something deeply emotional and real.”
According to Felt, Take It or Leave It
tells the story of a regular man growing into being a father in a straightforward and non-moralizing manner. “Liina Triškina-Vanhatalo’s modern take on this theme is effective and moving but it doesn’t underestimate the viewer. We believe the film will find an audience outside of Estonia and we will do everything we can to make that happen,” Felt said.
The film’s line producer is Johanna Trass, the DOP is Erik Põllumaa and the editor is Tambet Tasuja. The cast includes Reimo Sagor, Nora Altrov, Emily Viikman, Liis Lass, Adeele Sepp, Epp Eespäev, Andres Mähar, Egon Nuter, Mait Malmsten and others.
The US Film Academy will hand out Oscars for the 91st
time on February 24, 2019.
Estonian Film Institute