Ever wonder why so many great epee fencers come from the tiny country of Estonia? Last month the Estonian Women’s Epee Team won the World Championships, and in 2013, both the Men’s World Champion, Nikolai Novosjolov, and the Women’s World Champion, Julia Beljajeva, were from Estonia. All this from a country with less than half of the population of Los Angeles!
Much of the credit has to go to Endel Nelis, who’s story is now being told in a new film called The Fencer.
On the run from Soviet authorities in the early 1950’s, Endel Nelis escaped from Lennigrad to the small town of Haapsalu in Soviet occupied Estonia, where he started teaching fencing. The school which he founded still exists, and thanks to the work of his children, Peeter Nelis, and Helen Nelis-Naukas (both coaches), is turning out world-class fencers.
This excellent film portrays the sport of fencing in a positive and accurate light, although seasoned fencers will notice the occasional anachronism. It was written by Anna Heinämaa, who took an interest in Nelis’s story after taking some fencing classes, and directed by Finnish director Klaus Härö.
The Fencer is playing now through Aug. 31, 2017 at the Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A., CA 90025. Phone: 310-478-3836.
Click here for showtimes.