«The Fencer» misses Golden Globe as Hungary's «Son of Saul» triumphs

Hendrik Alla

Today, Los Angeles hosts Golden Globe gala No 73 where Finnish-Estonian «The Fencer» ran for best foreign language film while «Son of Saul» by Hungarians snatched the prize.

Right before the awards were announced, main actor in «The Fencer» Märt Avandi told Postimees in an interview that presenting a movie is a tiresome job but he is happy to be involved.

- Märt Avandi, have you ever had to be on a platform three times a day telling the same thing – like here in America?

Sure. A couple of times in my life, I have played the same play thrice a day. One had to get in tune for that. Be ready.

- Rather tiring, still?

It is.

- What are the impressions here in Los Angeles?

It’s interesting. But it is tiresome – one session after another, the pictures, the signatures, the small talk...

The reactions are overflowingly loving. By the end of the day one is unable to receive it all. Seven day’s fill in one day. «I love your work!», «It was marvellous, so fantastic that I have never seen anything like that!» Never seen a better actor, never seen a better movie. Let’s cut 50 percent off that, perhaps then arriving at the right answer.

But sure I am very happy about all that is happening here with me right now.

- What’s the greatest compliment given to you thus far?

I’ve been told I ought to get an Oscar. (Laughs.) For best male actor.  

- Or perhaps you could be trumped with a young actress in «The Fencer» – Liisa Koppel, who pays the little Marta who ends up against the Russian goliath. As she appears on the screen, something always begins to happen in the audience.

Absolutely. I totally agree. She is worthy of that.

- If you make it to the five Oscar nominees, will you take her with you?

If we do. But that’s more likely, anyway, that winning the Golden Globe.

- Why’s that so unlikely?

That’s what all the experts have said. But that’s all right too.

- At the Aero movie theatre «The Fencer» at times came across as a comedy, especially at the end. In Estonia, I do not remember anyone outright giggling during it.  

But perhaps it is a more adequate attitude in a way, as a tragedy does not mean one never laughs. Any tragedy involves a little fun, and every comedy has its share of tragedy.

- After the sessions, you were often saying that lots of naiveté had to be removed from the script.  What exactly did you mean?

Originally, the script prescribed a totally different ending, like when the Estonian kids win the competition towards the end then the entire bunch including the KGB guys are so overjoyed they do not capture Endel. That was a major issue to be altered.  

- But do you agree it is still a fairy tale?

Sure, not realistic really.  Marta, half as tall as the Russian, could never win. Therefore a fairy tale, but a beautiful one.

- A bit round?   

Yes, very decent. Risk fee. So there would be no offences... That’s its strength and also its weakness.

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