Nordic documentaries screening at Visions du Reel 2017

What? “Visions du Réel is one of the only Swiss film festivals to present a majority of its films as world or international premieres. It also offers the unique opportunity to meet the film directors, which are present at each first screening of the films. The Festival is also a stepping stone for new talent. The prestigious Oscars and the European Film Awards academies have opened their doors to films screened at Visions du Réel. Alongside a very varied programme, the Festival also offers masterclasses, debates with film directors, meetings with professionals and many cultural mediation activities.” – Link

Where? Nyon, Switzerland

When? 21 – 29 April 2017




Directed by Anna Eborn

““A tree moans and moans but never breaks. A strong tree tips over and is gone.” Embracing a fabric of places, times and stories—the Sweden of the 1930s, a Siberian work camp, and contemporary Ukraine—Lida is situated somewhere between a mysterious requiem and a documentary novel. It paints a portrait of a Babouschka living in a retirement home in Ukraine who turns out to be the last to speak an old Swedish dialect—in a colony of the same origins dating back to the 18th century. Although war is omnipresent, yesterday and today, in the end it is just a backdrop against which Europe and the world rip each other apart, leading to movements, of lives and stories. While members of her family, including her son Arvid, remain in Russia, the petulant Lida has fallen for a man and a village that looks like the end of the world. It is only through the film, impressionistic and dreamlike, that a form of family dialogue may exist. While certain elements of the story are thus sketched out, others remain elusive, much like the personality of the protagonist.” – Visions du Reel synopsis

Visions du Reel link

Bobbi Jene

Directed by Elvira Lind

“After a successful decade, the dancer Bobbi Jene Smith decides to abandon her starring role with the famous Batsheva Dance Company, based in Tel Aviv, to return to the United States and focus on a solo career. Determined to establish herself in an extremely competitive milieu under her own name, she must leave behind her inspiring mentor, the artistic director and very renowned choreographer Ohad Naharin, as well as the love of her life, another dancer. Following the dancer’s final months in Israel and then her heart-breaking departure, Elvira Lind delivers a complicit and edgy portrait (presented a few days ago at the Tribeca Festival in New York), which moreover takes into account the process put in place by Bobbi Jene to compose particularly personal and audacious performances. A poignant and sensitive film that examines the necessary struggle and the inevitable consequences of ambition, but also the pain that emerges from a quest for inner sincerity.” – Visions do Reel synopsis

Visions du Reel link


Hobbyhorse Revolution

Directed by Selma Vilhunen

“Aisku, Elsa and Alisa come from different family backgrounds. They are young girls with a passion for hobby horses: a game that is traditionally for smaller children which consists of imitating the movement of the animal by sitting astride a stick embellished with a horse’s head in fabric, trotting, galloping, and sometimes even jumping over obstacles during competitions. This toy has become a sub-culture in Finland that attracts the mockery of others but is also the soul of a mutually supportive community: preteens have now unofficially organised on the social networks and have decided to take a stand. The hobby horse revolution is underway. After her very delicate Laulu (Song) presented at VdR in 2014, Selma Vilhunen, who has moreover already been nominated for the Oscars, delivers a gratifying and touching film — which took the Grand Prix  in the National Competition at the Tampere Film Festival in Finland in March 2017 and constantly asks at what point do we become too old to have fun.” – Visions du Reel synopsis

Visions du Reel link


Burma Storybook

Directed by Petr Lom

“The end of a civil war, the transition from a military dictatorship to democracy, the evolution and decadence of a country through the verses of Maung Aung Pwint, a poet who spent a large part of his life in prison and today, old and ill, is recognised as the great writer of modern Burma. Petr Lom says: “When I met him, one of the first things he said to me was ‘Let’s write a long poem together.’ It was his invitation to me as a filmmaker. And also a challenge. So I didn’t want to simply tell his story, but, because this country is so rich and the time of its transition towards modernity so significant, I preferred to make a film that could be a panorama of everything that is the process of happening. And also show the ubiquity of poetry in all of that.” Therefore, Burma Storybook is exactly what its title announces, a mix of stories and scenes from life that weave together before the camera, the portrait of a country in the form of a kaleidoscope, the capturing of a thousand facets of a nation that is moving, though not always in the right direction.” – Visions du Reel synopsis

Visions du Reel link



Directed by Margreth Olin

“At the nursery school in Nesodden, near Oslo, learning is supposed to be fun, first and foremost, but also devoid of imperatives of tangible success. Standing out from many institutions of the same type, the kindergarten, surrounded by a forest, relies very largely on the sensitivity of the teachers, as well as on the way in which they perceive their work. In the magic universe of dreams and games, following the rhythm of the seasons, Margreth Olin enters with gentleness and affection into the life of this small community over a year. Although the age of the children varies enormously, the director chose to more closely follow the group of the eldest children, who will undergo some important rituals over these months and will have to leave the school when autumn comes. By filming at the right height, successfully capturing with finesse the gestures and affection between the beings, the hesitations and enthusiasm of childhood, the filmmaker draws, beyond the essential societal questioning of education and of its possible models, the grace of a suspended time, bathed in candour.” – Visions du Reel synopsis

Visions du Reel link


Ouaga Girls

Directed by Theresa Traore Dahlberg

“In Ouagadougou, a group of girls are studying to become mechanics at the education centre for women. Between sparkly pumps and nail polish, they juggle with wrenches and discuss batteries or bodywork sanding around the service pit. In the playground, they often seem to wait while daydreaming. What they are waiting for is the end of school, the graduation ceremony that will also be their transition to adulthood, their entrance into the world. It is nonetheless a world that they already know too well, many of them already having a dependent child. And what really touches us is this determination to support their family through their own income and therefore free themselves from a patriarchal model that still remains thick-skinned. “There is no job that a woman cannot do”, hurls Bintou at the boys who are curious about her choice. While the Burkinabe people call for political change, these young women, who are building a future that will be theirs alone, are spreading a message for the entire country.” – Visions du Reel synopsis

Visions du Reel Link

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.