The Estonian Film Institute has selected “The Last Ones” by Veiko Õunpuu as the country’s nomination for the foreign language Academy Award.
The expert committee, assembled by the Estonian Film Institute, on 30 October decided that the Estonian candidate for the nomination in Best International Feature Film category is to be the “The Last Ones”, directed by Veiko Õunpuu.
“The Last Ones” is a Nordic western, taking place in the wild tundra of Lapland in Finland. Young miner Rupi is hollowing out the tundra in hopes to put together enough money to leave the mining village behind forever. But the work has stopped in the mine, because Rupi’s father, who is a reindeer herder, refuses to sell off his land.
On top of that, the manipulative mine boss who goes by the nickname Fisherman, has started to express interest towards Rupi’s friend’s girlfriend, who Rupi is also secretly in love with. Now, when life in the mining village becomes more and more precarious each day, Rupi has to decide where he belongs, and to whom: the wild tundras of his fatherland, or the cold expanses of his own needs.
A love letter to a fading world
“Once, ‘The Last Ones’ was described as a love letter to a fading world. Now, the release of the film has chanced upon a very strange time, when those themes of disappearance are more current than ever before, and the epic Nordic landscapes offer the best way to overcome your own mundane horizons. Although the times are not favourable, we hope, especially considering this great news, that out film will reach as many people here and elsewhere, as possible,” the film’s producer, Katrin Kissa, said in a statement.
“The expert committee praised the winning film’s clearly formed story, well-shaped characters and gratifying execution, stressing that Õunpuu has succeeded in expressing great problems with minimal means – the eternal state of hope of a human being, and the ambition to progress towards a better life,” the film institute said in a statement.
The film’s director, Veiko Õunpuu, is best known for his artistic movies “Autumn Ball” (2007) and “The Temptation of St. Tony” (2009). Õunpuu’s films are usually slow-paced artistic movies with eccentric characters.
Three short films also submitted
Additionally, three short films – German Golub’s “My Dear Corpses”, Kerli Kirch Schneider’s “Virago” and Eeva Mägi’s short documentary “The Weight of All the Beauty” – will be put forward as candidates for the Academy Award.
“The Weight of All the Beauty” is a personal documentary about the director’s father, neighbour and other “cowboys” from Estonia’s Põdra village who drank themselves to death. These men lived in a village between sea and forest where the only one to share your life with is a “vodka demon”. The only survivor, Villi, takes the viewer on a journey through the village, where the homes of his friends still stand and tells how “vodka demon” tricked each one of them.
“Virago” is a black comedy about a southern Estonian village called Virago, where no man has lived to see his 40th birthday since the Second World War. Contemporary gritty realism is blended with the mystical and magical in the film.
“My Dear Corpses” tells a story of a boy named Erki who is unexpectedly evicted from his house. Facing the difficult task of taking care of his lonely mother, he is forced to take up a job in a cadaver disposal unit.
The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honour the best films released between January 2020 and February 2021. It is scheduled to take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California on 25 April 2021.
Cover: A still from “The Last Ones”. Images by the Estonian Film Institute.