Top 10 Nordic Documentaries of 2022

We are huge fans of documentaries and always enjoy catching them at festivals such as CPH:DOX – it’s just a shame that hardly any of these documentaries are then accessible to see in the UK, after all of the festival exposure.

Hopefully one day this will change and more of these talented directors who capture these fascinating stories will be able to have a platform to share these with a wider audience in the future.

For now, we are going to share ten of our favourite documentaries, in no particular order, that we got the opportunity to see this year, and also some interviews with the people behind the camera too.

Into The Ice | Denmark | Director: Lars Henrik Ostenfeld

If there was one documentary that did manage to get some great exposure over here in the UK it was Into The Ice which was part of the selection at the this year’s London International Film Festival. It is the first of three documentary films that has Greenland at its focus. This first entry for Greenland looks at climate change and the effect it is having on a country that is 80% ice. Part-adventure, part-science, this is a fascinating and essential watch.

The Happy Worker | Finland | Director: John Webster

The first, of many, CPH:DOX films we saw at the festival and were totally immersed in. This film saw director John Webster shine a light on the evolution of work and the impact of the way we work today, particularly in desk-based jobs. He examines working patterns, workload, stress and burnout, and the physical and emotional toll it can take on you.

This one will resonate with a lot of people, and makes you think about your own work life balance and steps we can take to look after themselves – a truly eye-opening experience.

Tsumu – Where Do You Go With Your Dreams? | Greenland | Director: Kasper Kiertzner

This was quite a unique experience, following the lives of young Greenlanders Eino, Lars, and Thomas, who live in the East of Greenland in a place called Tasiilaq.

What makes the film so unique is that the majority of it is told by video clips filmed by the central characters themselves, incredibly personal moments at times, and this is carefully crafted and edited together to tell the story through its moments of hilarity as well as absolute heartbreak.

The film received a standing ovation at the festival as the stars joined the director, Kasper Kiertzner, on stage.

Karaoke Paradise | Finland | Director: Einari Paakonen

Finnish director Einari Paakonen’s film Karaoke Paradise was such a wonderful experience that also managed to pull on the heart strings too, as his story dives into the world of karaoke culture in the quiet, rural parts of Finland.

The director explains about his subjects and the locations:

I spent an enormous amount of time doing the research for the film. I had witnessed over the years how important karaoke is for Finns, as I happen to sing and love karaoke myself. I was sure that because we Finns are quite quirky and dark-humoured people, that I will get lucky finding a variety of crazy-sounding and incredible singing locations

An Eternity of You & Me | Denmark | Director: Sanne This

Director Sanne This’ very personal and honest film – An Eternity of You & Me – shares her experience trying to get pregnant and capturing all the trials and tribulations on camera. It is quirky, funny, and incredibly emotional as we join both her and her partner Albert on this journey.

I wanted to tell a very honest and real story. So I filmed everything. And I filmed it in a way where the viewer can look around in the pictures and make up their own mind of where to look in that picture,

explains Sanne when we spoke to her earlier in the year.

Calendar Girls | Sweden | Directors: Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen

Calendar Girls was our first documentary we watched in 2022 – still to this day the director team of Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen are pushing the film across festivals all over the world. Their commitment and ambition to share this wonderful film has been phenomenal and their hard work has now seen their work longlisted for the Academy Awards along while picking up a number of festival awards too.

This wonderful dance documentary, set in Florida and in English, follows a dance team dedicated to women over 60 known as the Calendar Girls. 

When we spoke to Maria Loohufvud back in March she said: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“.

Band | Iceland | Director: Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir

Well this our only Icelandic entry but it is a great one – one that is a musical and blurs the lines of whether it is actually real or not which makes it all the more interesting.

Director Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir said the film:

Band is about the beauty of failing. It is a cool, powerful and humorous music film about up-and-coming 40 year old women looking for success

Electric Malady | Sweden | Director: Marie Lidén

This was a film that totally pulled a rug from under our feet – we really had no idea what to expect from. The story focuses on a man who suffers from EHS (electromagnetic hyper sensitivity) which means he has to hide out in a forest cabin away from any form of electricity or radio waves – take a moment to consider how difficult that might be.

Director Marie Lidén’s story is a fascinating one that is great example of why documentaries are so important to us – to learn about these stories you might never have heard about otherwise. We thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the director earlier in the year and look forward to what she might be working on next.

Behind The Swedish Model | Sweden | Director: Viktor Nordenskiold

This documentary had us absolutely hooked from beginning to end as director Viktor Nordenskiold shares his footage caught as he followed the Swedish health ministers during the Covid outbreak.

Sweden came under heavy scrutiny for their decisions at the time, which saw them both succeed and fail – knowing what we know now makes this a painful watch at times.

It conveys just how much of a complex situation it was dealing with a pandemic, and how there are no right answers that will keep everyone happy. One of the main subjects the film focuses on is Anders Tegnell himself, whose expertise and experience specialising in infectious diseases made him a pivotal figure in crucial decisions.

The Last Human | Greenland | Director: Ivalo Frank

The winner of CPH:DOX Nordic Documentary award went to Ivalo Frank’s The Last Human – Filmed in the director’s homeland of Greenland, the film speaks to Greenlandic locals and scientists who tell the tale of life on earth and how it all began in a small fjord in this vast and scenic country.

The film is a beautiful tribute to Greenland, a touching insight into its inhabitants, and a fascinating scientific journey through the history of life on earth – and a stark reminder that us humans are not invincible and that the earth does not need us as much as we need the earth.

We will keep you posted if we see any of these documentaries reach UK screens or hit any of the multiple streamers that are available to us now.

It is worth noting that for the likes of Minna Dufton’s Big Vs Small it took almost two years to finally get her film shown in UK cinemas – why is it so difficult for these films to be seen and after the festivals where do they go?

Alex Minnis
Alex Minnis

Alex is the Founder and Content Creator for Nordic Watchlist. He has a passion for all things Scandinavian as well as for film and TV, and has more than 12 years of experience working in the travel industry for the Nordic region.

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