This weekend at Hot Docs: 1999, Maj Doris, Won't You Be My Neigbor?, Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution27 April 2018 / by Elissa Matthews (author)
From queer punks to Mr. Rogers, the Movie Mixtape Hot Docs team reviews a few of the films playing this weekend:
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Won't You Be My Neighbor? screens at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Sunday April 29 at 1:00PM.
An interview with Samara Grace Chadwick, director of 1999
1999 Screens on Saturday April 28 at 3:15PM and Friday May 4 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and Sunday April 29 at 8:30PM at the Scotiabank Theatre.
Maj Doris is a beautiful film that is a pleasure to watch. Jon Blåhed’s take on Maj, a legendary Sámi artist and activist proves that not much has to happen in terms of plot for a film to be compelling, and insightful.
The film follows Maj at her isolated home in the Arctic circle of Sweden as she bares the cold, dark and brutal nature of a northen winter with lagom-like spirit, which is a Swedish word meaning enough, sufficient, adequate, just right.
Her character is a beautifully crafted contrast of one who treads lightly and a stark artist, who smokes cigarettes and casts no shades of self-doubt. The film felt like an antithesis to many of the ideals we experience here in Toronto, ideals of a constant searching for more, for indulgence, of wanting and over sharing, and consuming much more than we need.
Near the end of the film, Maj Doris is cooking traditional meal over wood fire in a yurt with her two grandchildren. One of her granddaughters mentions her pet Chihuahua, and in this moment you can see Maj’s sadness creep onto her face. Why would her granddaughter get such a small, impractical animal when there are local animals and creatures in need of our love?
The narrative of the film is communicated mostly through subtleties. In one scene the seventy-four year old Maj climbs up on her triangular rooftop using a ladder and shovels off the snow, no assistance required, no grunting and groaning. In another, she is separating pine needles from Reindeer feed called lichen; she cares deeply about the preservation of the land and its creatures.
We are also taken to one of her art exhibitions in the city where she is a star; we see the contrast of the indulgent life of the city that she appreciates mostly when it leads to her meeting a kindred spirit.
The film as a whole illustrates a point that goes above the heads of so many humans. It is our responsibility to take care of the people around us, the environment around us, and the other life and ecosystems around us. The moment we as humans lose touch of this, and focus only on other endeavours, everything will die.
Maj represents love itself and her satisfaction with isolation demonstrates a sad reality, that love doesn’t need us, and life doesn’t need us, and this planet does not need us, even though we need it.
Maj Doris plays at the TIFF Lightbox on April 27, 29, and May 6.
Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution
Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution screens tonight at Hart House at 9:15PM and again on May 4. IT also screens on Saturday April 28 at the Scotiabank theatre.
You can also catch all of these interviews, reviews and more in the full episode of Movie Mixtape for April 27, 2018: