Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Nordic Charmers: May I Recommend Olga and Love & Engineering

You know I love Nordic films, and I'm happy to direct you to Olga--To My Friends, and Love & Engineering screening at Hot Docs 2014.

Olga--To My Friends
Want me to watch a film? Show me a picture of reindeer. So, why have I chosen to show you this picture of Olga instead? Because, Olga--To My Friends is an intimate portrait of a fascinating young woman who deserves your attention. Yes, there are reindeer in the film because she works at a station guarding provisions used by the reindeer herdsmen in the summer; but what I found absolutely fascinating about this documentary is Olga and her quiet will to keep surviving whatever life dispenses. Director, Paul Aders-Simma and cinematographer, Elen Lotman have framed and lit Olga in a style that references Old Masters, while at the same time managing to capture the vastness and icy-stillness of the tundra.

At the opening of the film, Olga tells us that she has spent 177 days alone at the outpost with only her cat as her companion. Upon learning this I felt an automatic sorrow for her until she began summarizing her life: being abruptly separated from her childhood friend at at orphanage, reunited and briefly raised with a family whose Sami roots she knew nothing about, and as an adult, dealing with her sisters' alcoholism and dysfunctional lifestyle. After hearing Olga talk about her life, I understand why this job is so suited to her, and why she is able to function with a sense of freedom and contentment in what you and I would consider destitute conditions. Later, my heart skipped a beat when, it's revealed that Olga's job at the outpost is in jeopardy because the cooperative wants to sell it. How will Olga meet this next challenge in her life?  

Scotiabank Theatre 7 
Wed, Apr 30 7:30 PM

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4 
Fri, May 2 7:30 PM

Olga--To My Friends
 Is there a perfect formula for finding the perfect mate? Well, in Love & Engineering, Atantas, a Bulgarian scientist living in Finland, seems to think he can help his mates find a wife using the data he used to find his bride. He can't promise them a Claudia Schiffer, but they will be able to find someone they can put up with for life.  To put it in contemporary terms, it's like watching the character, Leonard from The Big Bang Theory leading seminars and conducting scientific tests on how he "hacked" his way into being Penny's boyfriend. Yes, "hacked".  According to Atanas, women have a relationship system that his fellow scientists should be able to hack so that they can find true love.  Atanas's heart is in the right place, but I wanted to yell at one scientist to stop talking about gaming when his date has already told him she is not into games and doesn't know the one he is so excited about has been released! Dude, you already know from the smell testing that she found your scent appealing, and then you go and shoot yourself in the foot? Arggh! 

Love & Engineering is a straight up funny documentary in which you can't help but root for the brilliant, inept, charming subject matters to find their perfect partners.

Scotiabank Theatre 3 
Thu, May 1 9:00 PM

TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 
Fri, May 2 8:30 PM

Revue Cinema 
Sun, May 4 1:30 PM

Canadian International Documentary Festival
April 24 - May 4, 2014 


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