Our hot Nordic takes from the Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Film Festival

Hot Docs festival in Canada seemed to fly by – we managed to catch only a handful of films from the Nordic region, but they were, without doubt, some really interesting pieces of work. We picked out our favourites and include a special mention for someone we spoke to last year who went on two not one but two awards at the festival!

1. Jobs For All! Sweden | Directors: Axel Danielson & Maximilien Van Aertryck

We started with a very super short documentary ‘ARBETE ÅT ALLA! (JOBS FOR ALL!)’, a playful rollercoaster ride through the Industrial Age as we know it today with a look at how “work works”.

Put together by French-German-Swedish filmmaker Maximilien Van Aertryck and Swedish director and producer Axel Danielson, both of whom are part of Plattform Produktion founded by Nordic Watchlist favourite Ruben Östlund, director of The Square and Force Majeure.

Early last year they got access to the entire archive of Swedish Public Television, and stitched together footage that examines and makes us question the place of work in our society, all with a touch of their trademark humour.

“Everyday we are asked to give our time, labour and passion to our jobs, in exchange for money. But we’re also asked to find meaning in them. How has this system come to be, and where is it leading us? Within a century we went from survival to abundance, why then, do we work so much? Would we work if we weren’t forced to? Is the robot automatisation a threat or liberation?

– Directors Max and Axel

2. Help, I’ve Gone Viral! Norway | Director: Audun Amundsen

When we first saw the title for this short documentary, we weren’t sure what direction it might take – but this light-hearted feel-good whirlwind was a welcome change from some of the more intense and emotional films we were enjoying over at CPH:DOX the previous week!

What we got instead was a beautiful and funny story about a sweet, shy Norwegian guy called Audun, who recorded a song which went viral overnight. Audun had been travelling in Indonesia and discovered a love for the native food ‘Nasi Padang’. When he returned home to Norway, he craved the cuisine but found it impossible to find anywhere, so he sang a song to express his yearning for it and uploaded it online.

What happened next is a pretty wild ride for Audun, as he is suddenly catapulted out of his comfort zone and into celebrity status – but what is beautiful is the coming together of cultures, the way food and music is universal – crossing all barriers and bringing people together with such joy.

We actually got to speak via video call with the director of the documentary and the star himself (both named Audun) – check out the video interview here.

We heard that there is even plenty more footage that wasn’t used in the 15 minute documentary, so we’re looking forward to a longer feature, or even a series, in the future!

3. Raise The Bar Iceland | Director: Gudjon Ragnarsson

Raise the Bar is the story of a young girl’s basketball team in Iceland, being trained by experienced but, some might say, unconventional, male coach Brynjar. Various moments stick out; when they are encouraged to ‘trash talk’ one another, when a concerned parent voices his objection to coach Brynjar’s swearing and shouting at the girls, and various harsh pep-talks from Brynjar that might make the more sensitive 10 year old burst into tears.

But what this film uncovers is actually not a foul-mouthed, strict coach, but an often disgusting attitude towards women in sport, the inequality that still exists for women today, and strict rules and attitudes that remain unchanged and unfounded.

This truly is a wonderful and powerful film – honestly if our future lives fell into the hands of these inspiring young girls the world would be an incredibly better place.

Brynjar’s teaching may be unorthodox, particularly in Iceland, but it is truly clear that he cares, he’s dedicated, and that – with the help of these young girls – he’s changing the world for the better.

4. Eatnameamet: Our Silent Struggle Finland | Director: Suvi West

Our final pick is a really important one by director Suvi West who captures the plight of the Sami people in Finland and their struggle with the Finnish government. Suvi said of the film:

This film is born from my personal experience living as a Sámi here in Finland. Time after time I’ve come across to misinformation, prejudices and oppressive structures towards us. My people and culture are fighting a silent war against increasing colonialism. I felt that I also need to do something on behalf of our future. So Eatnameamet came to be.

It is a truly powerful and heart-breaking piece and raises awareness of a culture and its indigenous people who seem to be fighting a losing battle.

We’d also like to make a special mention to the brilliant Elle-Maija Tailfeathers for winning two awards – Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award and Rogers Audience Award for her film Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning Of Empathy. Congrats Ella-Maija!

Feature by Alex & Claire Minnis – Images provided by Hot Docs

Leave a Reply