Girls Lost | Mardi Gras Film Festival
This year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival commences this Thursday 18th Feb 2016, and tickets are selling quick due to the incredible line-up. If you are in Sydney dear peeps, I urge you to check out the Mardi Gras Film Festival Website and grab yourself some tickets, the festival runs from February 18th to March 3rd 2016 and some of the films are already selling out, there are so many amazing movies this year and Salty will be desperately trying to cover as many as we can. The first cab off the rank was EVERLASTING LOVE followed by THE GIRL KING and then DOWNRIVER and now I present to you one very interesting Swedish fairy tale that looks at gender fluidity and sexuality, GIRLS LOST. This movie screens on Sunday Feb 28th at 730pm, it is for a 15+ audience and runs for 103mins (it will also screen with 9min short film, DYLAN) – tickets are available HERE. Kernel Kate reviews this one for Salty……..enjoy………all the best…….JK.
BY KATE DAWES
GIRLS LOST (POJKARNA) from Swedish director Alexandra-Therese Keining is a visually impressive, mystical coming-of-age story in which three best friends get to swap bodies and discover what it is like to live as boys.
Bella, Kim and Momo (Wilma Holmén, Tuva Jagell and Louise Nyvall) are outsiders in their school, families and even their bodies. They are bullied and harassed relentlessly by the boys at school but they have found each other and spend all their time together. Things change when they find and plant a magical seed in the garden. Overnight it grows and flowers into something they have never seen before and when they drink the nectar flowing from the flower they are transformed.
Living the next few hours as boys they get the chance to experience their world from a totally different viewpoint. With no one recognising them in their new bodies they can interact on a different level with the same people who torment them and return to school as themselves the next day with a new outlook on their situation. Returning again and again over the following weeks to their male identities a rift begins to form with Kim taking the experience in a different direction, experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Through these experiences Kim finally feels like she belongs in her own body but will this realisation destroy her friendships?
GIRLS LOST is a Swedish drama written and directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining and premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Keining has described the film as a ‘modern fairy tale’ and the beautiful imagery and wonder the characters portray does give it at times a mythical fairy tale feel. While some of the settings are decidedly every day, schools, suburban houses and teenage parties, there is a deep dark forest vibe to several scenes. Underpinning this fanciful modern fairy tale feeling Keining tackles some much bigger issues. Gender identity, fitting in, bullying and teenage angst.
Some of the reoccurring imagery in GIRLS LOST is metamorphosis in nature. Flowers, butterflies and cells all feature at various points. The power to change comes from a flower which we see grow miraculously overnight from seed in an almost stop motion close up sequence. The flower is often surrounded by butterflies, even before the trio drink the nectar and during their transformations the butterflies hover around them. During both the flower’s growth and the angst-ridden moments of the main characters there are some brief cuts of magnified cells. While some of this symbolism seems really obvious, like the butterflies accompanying Bella, Kim and Momo’s transformations, the dual use of close ups of cells which are tied to the flower and the butterflies in both the visual transformation scenes and the girls individual emotional moments gives the feeling of something which runs deeper. Almost like foreshadowing the irrevocable change each of these brief transformations will make inside the girls.
The transformations themselves are quite a beautiful piece of cinematography and casting. The actors who play male and female version of each character have been well cast physically with similar physical features. The transformative scenes focus on these. By zooming in on one of the girls to a lip or an eye and zooming back out to a boy without seeing any change during the close up the transitions are smooth, magical and natural. The cast too conveys this feeling of wonder, amazement and glee which is created in the audience. Their wide-eyed surprise and playful enjoyment of the new bodies they find themselves in is an impressive piece of acting from the young cast, some of whom hadn’t acted before GIRLS LOST.
One of the keys to creating this fairy tale world in ordinary surrounds is the music. The score by Sophia Ersson is a real asset to GIRLS LOST creating a moody electro-pop vibe that beautifully enhances the experience. Surging and jumping in the emotionally tense moments, creating anxiety and unease when the three leads are in danger and guiding us through the transformation scenes with subtly shifting masculine and feminine tones. Watching this film without the sound would almost leave it feeling empty. The score somehow seems to fill the quiet moments and speak for the characters when it would otherwise feel like something is being left unsaid.
For anyone who has felt left out or unsure of their identity GIRLS LOST provides a fanciful look at how the chance to live out your fantasies could change who you are. Keining has created a modern fairy tale aesthetic while exploring some very real issues of identity.
Having always loved stories one of Kernel Kate’s most frequent childhood memories was her parents telling her in the early hours that it was way too late to still be reading and to go to sleep, but she would always sneak in the end of the chapter. Her love of stories led to a career in movies as well as remaining an avid reader of everything from novels to academic papers and junk mail. She makes a perfect reading machine fit to the Salty Cob.
** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or the publisher – credit has been given to photographers where possible and images will be removed on request