Estonia has selected drama “Take It or Leave It” as its submission for the Oscar for best foreign-language film – the third time in five years that the country has put forward a movie from producer Ivo Felt, whose 2014 “Tangerines” received Estonia’s only Academy Award nomination.
“Take It or Leave It” beat six other contenders under consideration by a selection committee led by Edith Sepp, CEO of the Estonian Film Institute, which announced the selection Thursday. Five members of the seven-person panel picked “Take It or Leave It” as their choice for submission to the Academy.
Director Liina Triškina-Vanhatalo’s film tackles themes of responsibility, single parenthood and economic inequality. It tells the story of a 30-year-old construction worker who suddenly finds himself a single parent when his ex-girlfriend, whom he hasn’t seen for six months, has a baby girl and informs him that she’ll put the child up for adoption unless he wants to take care of his daughter.
“This film sticks out for its approach to socially important issues, which feels fresh and new in our modern film world,” Sepp said in a statement.
The drama was written and directed by Triškina-Vanhatalo and produced by Felt for Allfilm. It marks the third time Felt has had a film chosen as Estonia’s Oscar entry following Zaza Urushadze’s “Tangerines” in 2014 and Klaus Härö’s Golden Globe-nominee “The Fencer” the following year. “Tangerines” made the Oscar shortlist, but ultimately lost out to Poland’s “Ida,” directed by Pawel Pawlikowski.
It’s still early days in the submission process for the Oscars’ best foreign-language film category, with the deadline set for Oct. 1. Estonia is only the fifth country, and fourth from Central and Eastern Europe, to announce its selection.
Last week, the Slovak Film and Television Academy selected road movie “The Interpreter” as the Slovakian entry. Directed by Martin Sulik, “The Interpreter” tells the story of an 80-year-old man who finds a book by a former SS officer detailing his activities in Slovakia during World War II. Realizing that his parents were executed by the officer, he sets out to get his revenge but instead meets the officer’s 70-year-old son (“Toni Erdmann” star Peter Simonischek), who hardly knew his father. With the officer’s son acting as interpreter, the two men embark on a journey of discovery, of both the past and their own identity.
Previously announced submissions include Darya Zhuk’s ’90s-set drama “Crystal Swan” from Belarus; Radu Jude’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History As Barbarians,” which won the Crystal Globe for best film at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival and will represent Romania at the Oscars; and Switzerland’s “Eldorado,” a documentary about the refugee crisis directed by Markus Imhoof.
The shortlist will be announced Jan. 22, 2019. The 91st Academy Awards take place Feb. 24, 2019.