A sleepy Swedish province hopes to lure a discount store chain by hiring a pompous commercial director to document their town's worthiness, but two bright, brash high school girls from ...
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A sleepy Swedish province hopes to lure a discount store chain by hiring a pompous commercial director to document their town's worthiness, but two bright, brash high school girls from immigrant families use their cellphones and selfie sticks to tell the real story.
The film opens with an incongruous and comic rodeo in the small Swedish town of Lafors - Swedish rodeo???? (one of Lafors' dying industries is tanning leather). Here we get glimpses of some of the characters whom we will get to know better as the film progresses.
In the hopes of luring a big German supermarket (Superbilly) to Lafors, the town council decides to make a marketing film to showcase some of the charms of this town beset with a couple of dying industries. However, without a budget, one of the council members, Musse (Frederick Dahl), a Tamil immigrant who has assimilated so completely he cannot speak Tamil to his demented mother who has forgotten her Swedish, comes up with the idea of asking the secondary school kids to make videos of their town. The results are 'personal', as their teacher says (and quite funny), and in desperation the council gets funding from a local construction company to hire a professional. But two immigrant girls who have made one of the 'personal' films decide to keep filming. As the professional and the amateurs make their videos, various tensions in the town are slowly unveiled.
"Amateurs' has a double meaning in the film - almost all the actors are actually amateurs as well, including the talented and charismatic girls (Aida played by Zahraa Aldoujaili and Dana played by Yara Aliadotter) and the equally talented Musse (trying to figure out a word to describe him, I kept coming up with 'lovable').
The film is beautifully sequenced. We come to see well-meaning Swedes grappling with situations where some subtle prejudices are uncovered, and the girls uncovering reasons why a big supermarket coming to town is not the balm it seems.
The relationship between the immigrant girls is wonderful, and gorgeously acted and directed. Gabriela Pichler, the director, said they searched for a year to find the actors, and then spent nine months getting them ready to film, and the care taken shows, as well as the talents of the leads. Aida is tough and uncompromising, Dana soft and sweet. Musse's amiability is tried dearly as he sees he is not as accepted as he had thought. As the three interact with their families and the people of the town, the film transitions from light and funny to deep and bittersweet. We discover an amazing friendship and insights into the tensions people of different backgrounds create and respond to as they interact.
In addition to the excellent acting from both the principals and the supporting actors, the film is beautifully shot and the drama and comedy are superb. It is probably my favorite film of the year.
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