Truth and Justice (Tõde ja õigus) is an adaptation of a part of the classic Estonian novelist A.H. Tammsaare’s five-part epic novel of the same name. The picture has already broken all Estonian box office records. Truth and Justice recorded more than 205,000 admissions during its first four weeks of release last Spring, surpassing the previous record-holder Avatar, with 194,000 admissions. For a small country with a population of just 1.3 million, the figure is quite significant if not phenomenal.
“The domestic reception of Truth and Justice has been overwhelmingly positive, and the story is universal and has the potential to travel”, says twice Golden Globe-nominated producer Ivo Felt (Tangerines, The Fencer). The film was directed by Tanel Toom. It is the feature debut by the young Estonian filmmaker, who attracted international attention in 2010, when his short film The Confession won the Student Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, and who was later nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live-action Short Film.
The story takes place in the 19th century when Estonia was under Russian Imperial rule but the Estonian farmers had relatively more freedoms than Russian peasants. On this backdrop Truth and Justice is the epic story about two rival, neighboring landowners: the upright Andres (Priit Loog), who tries to obey the law and live by the book of God, and spiteful trickster Pearu (Priit Võigemast), who has his own notion of right and wrong, and who is seemingly placed in Andres’ life to test his patience and integrity.
The main character, Andres, is not someone you love,” says the director Tanel, “but you did not love the protagonists in films like There Will Be Blood or Taxi Driver, but you became emotionally involved and went with them on their journey. I am not that different from that guy. I am like him in my making films.”