by Drew Martin
Perhaps I am just tuned in to this because of a long, record-cold winter in the Northeast but there seems to be a lot of Norway going around. I recently overheard my Skyping sister-in-law in Poland say that she would like to move her small family to Norway because of a film she watched. It compares the lives of twin Chinese sisters who were found in a cardboard box. The discarded babies were separated and independently handed off to a family from Fresvik, Norway, and a family from Sacramento, California. The families made the connection on their own and make efforts to keep the adopted girls close despite the great distance and language barrier between them.
The hour-long documentary about these girls, Twin Sisters (Tvillingsøstrene), is a Norwegian film by Mona Friis Bertheussen so it is a little over the top with glorious music every time there are fjordic nature scenes. The Fresvik shots are undeniably beautiful but the poor life in a bleak village with only one store and a small, mediocre school is over-romanticized, and Bertheussen tries her best to show the worst of America in a fake-nice way. There is no mention, for example, how close the "trapped in suburbia" American twin lives next to some of the most majestic forests in the world. I also had to laugh when the American twin is directed to look out over the Pacific Ocean as if to look out for her sister. First of all, the ocean is farther from Sacramento than the nearest forest, although it is passed off as a feature of her city and secondly, the distance to Fresvik from that spot over the Pacific is more than 13,000 miles. If she turned around it would only be 5,000 miles.
Click here to watch the entire documentary
The other Norwegian influenced film I saw recently was F*ck For Forest (FFF). Quite the contrast to the picturesque Rockwellian documentary mentioned above, FFF is a feature-length documentary about a couple Norwegians who started the FFF not-for-profit, eco-porn organization, which raises money to protect the world's endangered forest through the creation and dissemination of amateur porn (primarily through the FFF website). This business model is fueled by asking people they meet at parties and walking around Tiergarten in Berlin to pose naked or have sex for them, and charging the voyeurs who want to watch it online.
FFF is a narrative-driven documentary made by the Polish director Michał Marczak. It got a lowly, sub-two-star rating on Netflix, but it is actually a five-star work of art. It captures this delusional motley crew's rawest moments from their reestablished base in Berlin, Germany to a flop of a trip to South America, which falls apart when they are shouted out of a town gathering where they had hoped to be embraced by as great benefactors. FFF brilliantly captures the subculture of Europe that not a lot of people get to experience, but which Marczak gives us a first-hand and unbiased look. It might be a hard film to watch for some people but I trust it much more than Tvillingsøstrene.
And what a great trailer!