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The Nordic documentaries selected for Hot Docs 2018

About the festival

The Hot Docs Film Festival is the major Canadian international documentary festival of the year. Taking place between the 26th of April and the 6th of May 2018, the festival showcases some of the best documentaries from around the world.

Denmark

A WOMAN LIKE ME

Short

Directed by Isabel Morales Bondy

A deafblind Danish woman travels to Nepal to meet a woman with the same condition in the hopes of communicating and engaging in a cultural exchange. A Woman Like Me is a remarkable demonstration of the delicacy and complexity of human communication, and how susceptible it is to privilege, preconceptions and misunderstandings.

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WE COULD BE HEROES

Directed by Hind Bensari

Azzedine Nouiri brings the 2012 London Paralympic gold medal and world record in shot put home to Morocco amid wild fanfare. He assumes his life is about to change, and that his achievement will improve financial and athletic support from the government. Instead he’s immediately forgotten and denied the salary, social care and access to the city’s stadium that his gold medal performance promised. As he prepares for Rio 2016, Azzedine’s goals shift. He’s no longer looking for the longest throw, but to overthrow the system that keeps athletes with different abilities marginalized as destitute second-class citizens.

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THE RETURN

Directed by Malene Choi Jensen

Two Danish-Korean adoptees return to Seoul in search of their birth mothers. Staying at the Koroot guesthouse, they meet and exchange confidences with other transnational adoptees from around the world who struggle with similar experiences: grief, frustration and a longing for something without knowing exactly what. The Return uses fictional elements to construct and deconstruct feelings of being caught between cultures and identities.

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Read our interview with Malene Choi Jensen in the new issue of Cinema Scandinavia

HAUNTED

Directed by Christian Einshøj

An aging mother of four encounters a ghost outside of her filmmaker son’s childhood bedroom. Rarely visited by her adult kids, the spectre is a welcome distraction. But is the sighting a sign of absence or presence? A distinct tribute that blends dry humour, stylized tableaux and home movies, Haunted shows how estrangement can possess an entire family.

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DREAMING MURAKAMI

Directed by Nitesh Anjaan

Discovering a writer can change a person’s life. More than 20 years ago, Mette Holm read her first novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, who had yet to grow into one of the biggest names in contemporary literature—and it turned her world upside down. She has since become his official Danish translator, spending thousands of hours transcribing his bizarre and unique universe into her native language. As Holm travels to Japan, she introduces us to the mysteries of her craft, proving that her commitment to the novelist’s vision has turned into a way of life.

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THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS

Directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont

A 10-year-old’s life is turned upside down by the ongoing war in East Ukraine. While most people have left their village on the front lines, Oleg and his beloved grandmother stay, putting up with constant fear and never-ending gunfire. But dealing with the stress of armed conflict day in and day out takes a heavy toll.

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Finland

ENTREPRENEUR

Directed by Virpi Suutari

A Finnish family crisscrosses the countryside running a tiny fun fair and selling meat from the back of their food truck. Meanwhile, in bustling Helsinki, a pair of businesswomen launch a new plant-based protein called “pulled oats.” Filmmaker Virpi Suutari connects two seemingly disparate business models—a butcher struggling to survive and a startup trying to scale—and shows how self-employment, work-life balance and customer preferences are changing across time. Stuck in the past, the rural family can barely rub two coins together as they try to move their product. Barrelling towards the future, the promising meat alternative sits poised to conquer the Chinese market and make millions for its inventors.

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Read our review in the new issue of Cinema Scandinavia

Norway

GOLDEN DAWN GIRLS

When the key male leaders of Greece’s far-right political party, Golden Dawn, are imprisoned for organized criminal activity, the task of leadership falls on the shoulders of a daughter, a wife and a mother. Together this fiercely poised and unsettling trio are entrusted with the leadership of the party and continuation of its ultranationalist, far-right political agenda, which has been described as neo-Nazi, fascist and anti-globalist, although the group rejects these labels.

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Sweden

THE TRAFFIC SEPARATING DEVICE

Short

A bus trap is installed in the middle of Stockholm. Intended to allow only buses to pass, the contraption totals hundreds of cars whose drivers ignore the warning signs and try to circumvent the obstacle. An amusing and telling record of how entitled, dangerous and stupid drivers are, and how unresponsive people are to rules and change.

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MAJ DORIS

Seventy-five-year-old Maj Doris Rimpi is a Swedish living legend—an artist, a painter, an actress, a poet and an inspiration to the entire Sámi Indigenous community. Today, she lives alone in the majestic white sprawl of Sweden’s Arctic Circle, deeply rooted in the Sámi tradition of tending to reindeer until they leave her for the mountains in the spring.

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Read our review in the new issue of Cinema Scandinavia

JUCK

Short

All-female Swedish dance troupe JUCK perform their signature “hump” dance in public spaces to provoke, inspire and blow up norms. “Femininity is a word we can fill with whatever we want”—and they do. “It’s tiresome that it’s still so provoking to see women not apologizing for their existence”—and they don’t. The #MeToo movement finally has its theme song and dance.

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THE DEMINER

Directed by Hogir Hirori & Shinwar Kamal

Following the fall of Saddam Hussein, the landscape of Iraq is in turmoil. Landmines scattered across the country are a daily threat to innocent citizens roaming the streets. Seeing the buried danger all around him, an Iraqi soldier sets out on a life-saving mission. Using only a pocket knife and a pair of clippers, Fakhir risks his own safety to search for mines hidden beneath the ground or rigged within cars. His commitment to the cause saves thousands of lives—but his wife and eight children live in constant fear that Fakhir may not come home.

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Read our review in the new issue of Cinema Scandinavia

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.