Estonia’s candidate for the Oscars, Take It or Leave It, which is now in the running for Febiofest’s New Europe prize, tells the story of a young single father. “In today’s Estonia, single parents are common. Three to five percent of them are men, but that number is growing,” director Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo said during a Q&A. She drew inspiration from the story of an abandoned father with a two-month-old baby as well as from her own thoughts on motherhood and the question of whether a person becomes a parent the moment their child is born or step by step.
Prior to shooting she faced a major challenge – finding a new-born. “In Estonia we don’t have a casting agency for children. So we started looking for pregnant women, though no families were willing to get involved. Then we found one family via social media, but their daughter was born prematurely and then was too big for the shoot. In the end, a friend of a friend of a friend agreed a week before shooting. She had just had her first child and she and her husband took filming as an adventure,” the director said.
At first lead actor Reimo Sagor, who is not a father, didn’t know how to handle a baby. However, he prepared for the shoot by spending a lot of time with a family with a new-born and learned to change diapers and do other day to day stuff. “He became almost like a member of the family. When during the premiere the little girl saw him being interviewed on television she shouted: Papa!” Trishkina-Vanhatalo said.