Estonia sends a drama about fatherhood to join the Oscar race

Estonia has submitted Liina Triškina-Vanhatalo’s drama, “Take It or Leave It”, as the country’s submission for the foreign language Academy Award.

The film is about a 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 lead role debut in a feature film.

“Take It or Leave It” was produced by the experienced Estonian producer, Ivo Felt, for whom it is not the first time to compete for an Oscar glory. In 2015, the Felt-produced “Tangerines”, an Estonian-Georgian collaboration (directed by Zaza Urushadze), made it to the nomination list and another film, “The Fencer” (directed by Klaus Härö), was shortlisted in 2016.

Universal theme

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-moralising 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,” he said in a statement.

The film was selected by the committee led by the Estonian Film Institute. 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. “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.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hand out Oscars for the 91st time on 24 February 2019.

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Cover: Screenshot from “Take It or Leave It”.

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and Politics & Society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.