December 3rd, 2008
A review of Three Miles North Of Molkom, the documentary directed by Robert Cannan and Corinna McFarlane which was first screened in its theatrical format as part of the Brighton CineCity Film Festival 2008.
Three Miles North Of Molkom is a delightful and amusing documentary set during the aptly named No Mind Festival, an alternative therapy and meditation (hippy) festival, in Sweden. Set during the festival, rather than about the festival, this feels more like a fictional drama-comedy focusing on 6 characters and the borderline madness that goes on around, and within them.
This screening was ideal for the Brighton Film Festival for a few reasons. As well as the directors links to the town (Robert Cannan is from Brighton and Corinna McFarlane studied at Sussex), Brighton is a town full of people who would love this festival, and indeed many who have likely attended. I personally know people who have been to the Buddhafield festival, a similar event held in Devon, and there are plenty of people around who host alternative therapy and meditation sessions in the town itself. The subject matter and characters felt very familiar.
The film itself is very funny, and tongue in cheek, on the surface seeming to simultaneously mock and applaud the various events and sessions that take place over the course of the festival. Since there is no narration, much of this was me myself finding elements of the festival both funny and very clearly beneficial to the people there – often at the same time. The core character, Nick, an Aussie rugby coach who kind of found his way there by accident and is mainly hilariously cynical about everything (but with almost cliched hidden depths of course) fully sets the tone of much of the film as well, and that’s a far from serious pro ‘tree-hugging’ standpoint.
The film almost exclusively focuses on one group of people, Nicks group, and include some fascinating characters including a Swedish celebrity who cannot say much, an Irish guy seemingly on the run from his wife, a painfully troubled former career coach from Finland who has no saliva in her mouth, a tactless Swedish ‘King’ who is searching desperately for ‘his godess’ and a true hippy from the States who grew up on a farm with only animals for friends and can barely speak. Comedy – tragicomedy in places – gold.
As well as the comic elements (which one almost feels guilty laughing at, as the people in it likely wouldn’t consider it funny), there’s some unusual and downright bizzare sights. Walking on hot coals suddenly seems a lot easier than I thought it would be, sitting in a sauna for 4 hours less so, and the ‘tantric session’ with strangers might mean a lot more people pop along to the festival next time. Nothing quite tops the ‘Matrix Training’ workshop run by Brit Paul Terrell, all I’ll say is it has to be seen to be believed!
Three Miles From Molkom is not to be missed. An arthouse Borat with traces of The Office crossed with Glastonbury The Movie.
Three Miles North Of Molkom should be released next summer – keep an eye on their website for more details.