Oscars: Estonia Selects 'Mother' for Foreign-Language Category

'Mother' film still - H 2016
Courtesy of Kadri Kousaar

Kadri Kousaar's film is a dark comedy that follows the money after a tragic gun accident.

Estonia has chosen Kadri Kousaar's dark comedy Mother as its submission to the Oscars in the foreign-language category.

The humorous tale of small-town eccentrics trying to figure out where the money disappears to after a local man withdraws a large sum of cash — and promptly falls victim to a nasty gun accident — has been impressing audiences and critics this year at international festivals ranging from Tribeca to Edinburgh.

The film "skillfully tells its story" and was a "great viewing experience," Martti Helde, chairman of the Estonian Filmmakers Union, told Estonia state broadcaster ERR.

Centered around Elsa, the mother and full-time carer for Lauri, a teacher in a coma ever since he was shot under shadowy circumstances, her son's story emerges slowly as a friend comes to visit and a police investigation unfolds.

Dubbed a "smartly crafted whodunit set in a small town where just about everyone is dreaming of something bigger and some are willing to do whatever it takes to get out" at Tribeca, where Mother had its international premiere in April, the film — Kousaar's third feature — was inspired by Irish writer Kevin McCann's radio drama Coma.

Mother, which stars Tiina Malberg and Siim Maaten, was produced by Aet Laigu. International sales are being handled by Andrew Herwitz of The Film Sales Company.

Estonia has been submitting films to the Academy Awards since 1992 and has made it onto the list of the five final nominees for the foreign-language category once — two years ago with the Estonia-Georgia co-production Tangerines, directed by Zaza Urushadze.