Estonia is the latest country to select its entry for the International Feature Film category of the Oscars with the Nordic Western “The Last Ones,” directed by Veiko Õunpuu, flying the flag for the Baltic country.
The film will world premiere as part of the Baltic Competition program of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, which runs Nov. 13-29.
An expert committee called together by the Estonian Film Institute chose the film. The committee consisted of film director Tanel Toom, producers Evelin Penttilä and Ivo Felt, film journalist Tõnu Karjatse, costume designer Eugen Tamberg, former distributor and current advisor on audio-visual matters to the Minister of Culture, Siim Rohtla, and the Estonian Film Institute’s Edith Sepp.
“The Last Ones” takes place in the wild tundra of Lapland. Young miner Rupi is hollowing out the tundra in the hope of putting 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 an interest in Rupi’s friend’s girlfriend, who Rupi is also secretly in love with. When life in the mining village becomes more and more precarious each day, Rupi has to decide, where he belongs, and to whom.
A statement from the film institute said Õunpuu had “succeeded in expressing great problems with minimal means: the eternal state of hope of a human being, and the ambition to progress toward a better life; greed and small-mindedness that smother humanity; extinction of traditional ways and customs in the face of capitalist self-interest; the environment that has been exploited to the point of no return; feelings of uncertainty facing the future.”
The producer of “The Last Ones,” Katrin Kissa, said: “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.”
The film is scripted by Heikki-Huttu Hiltunen, Eero Tammi and Veiko Õunpuu; the cinematographer is Sten-Johan Lill; the composer is Sven Grünberg; the set designer is Otso Linnalaakso; the costume designer is Jaanus Vahtra; and the editors were Wouter van Lujin and Xander Nijsten.
The cast is led by Pääru Oja, Laura Birn, Tommi Korpela, Elmer Bäck, Sulevi Peltola and Samuli Edelmann.
The film was produced by Kissa at Homeless Bob Production in Estonia, Mark Lwoff and Misha Jaari at Bufo in Finland, and Ellen Havenith at PRPL in the Netherlands. Loco Films is handling world sales.