Rise of the Water Fox
Rise of the Water Fox is the story of Agnes, a teenager who struggles with turbulent emotions after her grandfather’s car accident, and grown-ups in her life who are just at the starting point of their own personal healing journeys, some right before dying.
Agnes, a teenager whose turbulent emotions pile up after her parents’ complicated divorce, her grandfather’s car accident and problems at school, is sent out of sight to spend her school break in her grandfather’s retirement home. There Agnes meets a local hero Harriet, who introduces the girl to the exciting world of martial arts. Agnes soon realises she is not to blame for the problems of all the people around her and can only be responsible for her own balance and inner peace.
Things are not looking good for Agnes. She thought it would be easier to handle her parents after the divorce, but her dad is now obsessed with Instagram psychology, trying to communicate his feelings for the first time ever, and her mother, a loud workaholic Latina, doesn't understand boundaries. She keeps coming to their house and pushing Agnes to stick with her gymnastics team, even if Agnes has been wanting to quit for some time now.
After losing her temper and getting into a fight with a kid who made jokes about her grandad's car accident, Agnes gets punished and has to miss the weeklong school trip that she was eagerly waiting for. As both her parents are busy with the adjustments of the divorce and the renovation of the house, Agnes is sent to her estranged grandpa's retirement home. Little do they know that Agnes blames herself for her grandfather having a stroke months ago, so she is terrified of being near him.
Agnes is not sure how to handle her temper and it usually comes out in bursts of anger, but in the retirement home, she will meet Harriet, a local hero and 34th-generation Viking, who offers to teach her the secrets of Kung Fu and inner peace. Agnes reluctantly accepts, but she doesn’t know that Harriet is not a real Sensei and is only using her to escape from the retirement home, and back to her own house, where she wishes to spend her last days. As she trains, Agnes will learn that she can’t be the reason for the problems of the people around her and that, much like in the Kung Fu films; she can only be responsible for her own balance and inner peace.
This is an action comedy about finding balance in the face of change. Agnes’ world is quickly changing, and she feels like a monster - only bringing chaos and trouble to those around her. We will follow Agnes discovering that the key is not in controlling how things happen, but how she chooses to react to them.
The film deals with the complications of growing up and growing old. We want to highlight the similarities between these moments and show how the world reacts to you as if you were not ready, or past your time. Life, death, time, and balance are the themes throughout the film – things we all experience but somehow do not talk much about. Seeing Agnes’ journey through her eyes, dealing with all the hardships of change, like death, fear, and family, is an opportunity to reflect on how present we can be in a moment and how delicate and important it is to find a sense of inner balance and acceptance of our own self.
Carlos E. Lesmes (1987) is a Colombian film director currently living and working in Estonia. Since graduating from the MA in Baltic Film and Arts School in 2014, Carlos has been an active member of the Estonian film community. Currently Carlos is pursuing a PHD degree at TLU and developing his first fiction feature film. Carlos is interested in people, comic books and particle physics, but mostly in how to tie it all to try and tell stories about the experience of being a human.
Johanna Maria Paulson is a film producer and co-owner of Stellar Film, one of the leading production companies in Estonia. Her experience includes working on shorts, documentaries, TV series, and international co-productions, many of which have received worldwide recognition at A-class festivals. Her most recent works include the award-winning kids' thriller The Sleeping Beast by Jaak Kilmi and the highly acclaimed experimental short Dear Passengers by Madli Lääne.
Elisabeth Kužovnik is a freelance screenwriter and photographer based in Tallinn, Estonia. She finished her film studies at the Baltic Film and Media School in 2022. Her student film The King won PÖFF’s national competition in 2021. Currently, she is developing two feature films - an autobiographical The Bicycle Thief produced by Nafta and Rise of the Waterfox produced by Stellar. Both of these projects have secured national development funding alongside her short film Stiina.