Make some room in your diary for documentary ‘Calendar Girls’ by Swedish director duo Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen

This wonderful dance documentary, set in Florida and in English, follows the dance team dedicated to women over 60 known as the Calendar Girls. We love the touching and funny dance documentary that challenges the outdated stereotype of aging ladies and shows the deep human need for creativity, fun, and friendship – even in retirement.

The two directors behind the documentary are Swedish, so Alex interviewed them to find out how they connected with the Calendar Girls, why they made this documentary, and the role that dance plays in the story.

Nordic Watchlist: How did your paths cross with the Calendar Girls and how long did you spend with them whilst you were over in the US?

We were on vacation in Florida when we stumbled upon the Calendar Girls at a kids event called “Touch a Truck”. We went there with our 3 year old son, that was crazy about cars at the time, and our new born baby. All of a sudden we caught sight of a group of women all dressed up in mini skirts and sequins. They climbed up on the flat bed of a truck and started to dance. We couldn’t stop watching. 

Directors: Love Martinsen and Maria Loohufvud

The same night we contacted the leader of the team, Katherine, to ask for an interview. She answers ”we’re up for anything”. And that’s how it started.

This was in April of 2018. For almost 2 years we moved back and forth from Stockholm Sweden to Cape Coral Florida. We went 4 times and stayed for about 2 months each time. Spending as much time with the group as possible. Love’s parents travelled with us and took care of the kids. We couldn’t have done this without them.

NW: There are some really fun dance sequences included in the film which were choreographed by Maria – what was the inspiration behind these scenes?

I have always loved Hollywood musical films and I’ve been dancing a lot myself, and Love’s background is as a composer and musician. So the idea to use dance as a way of telling the story came natural to us.

Bodies that have lived a full life, bodies that are not professionally trained can express so much, with very delicate movements. 

We also wanted to make the film as bold, colourful and inspiring as the Calendar Girls themselves. 

NW: How do you think the girls would be received to Scandinavian societies and do you imagine that such groups exist?

It’s coming. My mom dances. There are Swedish dance groups for elder women. But as far as we know, not as elaborate, outgoing and hard working as the Calendar Girls. 

The Scandinavian countries has come a long way in gender equality in many ways. But to refuse to be invisible as an older woman, like the Calendar Girls do, is still not ”appropriate”. 

But we hope and believe it’s about to change. 

NW: What message do you want people to take from watching Calendar Girls?

We want people to feel inspired. To find their tribe. And to put on their dancing shoes and step out of the prescribed box. Together. 

We also want to smash the stereotypes of aging.

NW: Looking ahead to 2022 – you have had your film premiere at Sundance – what are your next plans and do you hope for an international release?

A lot of good things to come! The film will have a theatrical release in Sweden March 18th and in the US in May and it will be screened at a lot of festivals in Europe, Asia and in the US this year. 

It was a disappointment not to be able to go to Utah for the premiere at Sundance but we will meet up with the girls for the theatrical premiere in NY. Can’t wait!

Interview by Alex Minnis

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