Hot Docs review: Maj Doris

Director Jon Blåhed profiles legendary Sámi artist and activist who lives above the Arctic Circle in Norway


MAJ DORIS (Jon Blåhed, Sweden/Norway). 73 minutes. Rating: NN


Several prominent women artists and public figures have been the subject of documentaries this year, but a lesser-known entry in this 2018 documentary mini-trend is this film about Maj Doris Rimpi, 74-year-old Sámi artist and activist who lives alone above the Arctic Circle in Norway.

Director Jon Blåhed and cinematographer Jimmy Sundin frame Rimpi against vast snowy landscapes as she tends to a herd of seasonally visiting reindeer with help from a refugee from Afghanistan. There is little in the way of archive or narrative thrust, though two instances of travel suggest a balance between her devotion to preserving Indigenous culture and a desire to experience the world. We only get glimpses of her work, so it’s hard to grasp the extent of her impact.

She is clearly inspiring and this doc is gorgeous to look at, but the filmmakers never find a way to bring their thematic strands together.

Apr 27, 8:30 pm, TIFF 4 Apr 29, noon, TIFF 3 May 6, 6:30 pm, TIFF 3

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