Magazine article Screen International

'Amateurs': Rotterdam Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Amateurs': Rotterdam Review

Article excerpt

Two adolescent Swedish girls make a warts-and-all movie about their home town


Dir: Gabriela Pichler. Sweden. 2018. 100mins

A council initiative to create a promotional video for the small Swedish industrial town of Lafors prompts two teenage schoolgirls to create their own rival project. But while the council’s puff piece tries to airbrush out any hint of poverty and remove any non-white people from the frame, the phone footage opus created by Aida (Zahraa Aldoujaili) and Dana (Yara Aliadotter) captures the true spirit of the community, for better and for worse. Gabriela Pichler’s sophomore feature (following 2012’s Eat Sleep Die) is a feisty delight, combining fizzing energy with finely-crafted characters and a light-footed approach.

The girls’ movie, like the one they inhabit, is all about giving voices to people who don’t always get them

The film plays in Rotterdam following its world premiere in Gothenburg, and further festival interest should follow. Youthful brio and an almost offhand depiction of young women of colour doing whatever the hell they feel like doing - Aida and Dana drive motorbikes, ride skateboards, learn boxing and play the drums - should catch the eye of arthouse distributors, particularly those looking for strong female voices both in front of and behind the camera. The picture shares some of the maverick crackle of We Are The Best, not to mention that film’s infectious joy in the act of creating, uninhibited by lack of experience and skill.

A terrific opening sequence, using deliberately artless amateur-style footage, captures the annual highlight in the Lafors social calendar. As the hungover strains of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Summer Wine’ play out, we see footage of the town’s Wild West themed celebration, a nod to the community’s reliance on cattle and the leather industry. Aida and Dana, wearing fake mustaches and ten-gallon hats, feature prominently. Having wrung every last drop of fun out of the town’s party, they are looking for something to do next. …

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