Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys
SCR/CAM/ED Jessica Oreck
PROD CO Myriapod Productions
Vérité documentaries are rarely as visually exquisite or innately soulful as this latest remarkable offering—representative of the best new face of eco-tourism—from Jessica Oreck (Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo). Imbued with a warmth that belies its frigid Finnish Lapland setting, Aatsinki thoughtfully observes Aarne and Lasse, two brothers who toil as reindeer herders. Whereas Oreck’s Beetle Queen—a VIFF favourite—made frequent excursions into otherworldliness, this follow-up remains rugged and grounded. Observing these men and their families over the course of a year, we see their intense labour and hard earned leisure, slowly attuning ourselves to the compelling rhythms of their daily and seasonal routines.
Oreck’s capacity for conjuring beguiling images and arresting aesthetics is rivalled only by the wealth of empathy she possesses for her humble subjects. And while duly celebrating the uncommon relationship the brothers have forged with nature, she likewise uncompromisingly depicts their slaughtering techniques and casts a critical eye on their increasing reliance on technology. (It seems living off the land no longer prohibits having a Wii in the living room). While keeping her film remarkably intimate, Oreck skillfully implies that countless variations of Aarne and Lasse’s story are being played out across the globe. In this time of rapid change, could it be that tradition just isn’t what it used to be?
"A work of ethereal beauty… Utterly engrossing…"—John Anderson, Variety