EXCLUSIVE: Truth And Justice, the Estonian debut feature that was one of the more unexpected inclusions on the Academy’s International Feature Film Oscar shortlist earlier this week, has been snapped up by Berlin-based sales agent Films Boutique.

The film is a historical epic running at 149 mins that follows an Estonian farmer in 1870 who struggles against a rival neighbor as well as his own family and beliefs. It is an adaptation of author Anton Hansen Tammsaare’s pentalogy novel of the same name, written 1926 – 1933, which is considered to be one of the fundamental works of Estonian literature.

Writer-director Tanel Toom made his feature debut on the film, he was previously Oscar nominated for his 2010 short The Confession.

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Ivo Felt at Tallinn-based Allfilm produced, his company is one of the country’s most successful production houses with credits including the Oscar-nominated Tangerines and the Golden Globe-nominated The Fencer, which also made the Oscar shortlist in 2016. The company recently worked on production services for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming thriller Tenet, which shot in Estonia in 2019.

Truth And Justice received significant government backing after winning the Estonian 100 film competition, a national initiative to mark the centenary of the country’s initial independence from Russia. The total budget of the pic was $2.8m (€2.5m).

The film has been a smash hit in its native Estonia. Released back in spring, it clocked 267,000 admissions in a country of just 1.3 million, numbers that saw it top Avatar to become Estonia’s most successful release of all time.

The film also screened at Busan Film Festival and Tallinn Black Nights, and will play at Palm Springs in the new year.

Jean-Christophe Simon, CEO of Films Boutique, told us: “We are thrilled to be working on Truth And Justice. The film is an epic portrayal of a family in the 19th century which follows the family members and how they fight to defend their land and their farm through the decades. Besides being an impressive and very moving drama, the film captures the spirit of the first pioneers which clearly relates to American history, as well as other countries where humans beings had to fight to “conquer” their lands and for their families to survive.

“It is also very modern in the way it shows how we lost connections with lands in our current world. The film is something special – a strongly directed drama by a short film Oscar nominated filmmaker, but it is also very accessible and with a strong commercial appeal as a moving family saga,” he added.

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