Sweden, 2011, 84 min
Immersed in the world of competitive equestrian vaulting, introverted Emma (Mathilda Paradeiser) and icily self-assured Cassandra (Linda Molin) find themselves drawn to each other—first as friends, then as rivals—as they train for a spot on the local team. Cassandra seems by far the stronger-willed, and at her behest Emma engages in increasingly reckless activities, until she discovers her own strength and begins to push back. Locked in a psychological battle for the upper hand, their uneasy relationship circumnavigates the boundaries of teenage sexuality, violence and control, culminating in a ruthless act of primitive justice. Meanwhile, Emma’s preternaturally mature kid sister tests out her own understanding of sexual power and control as she attempts to seduce her cousin and babysitter. The effects of isolation reverberate through the unanchored actions of the three young protagonists as they attempt to connect to anything, or anyone, without giving too much of themselves away in return. Set in a rural Swedish village filled with more tumbleweeds than cars, with crisp, tightly wound performances and subdued, naturalistic camera work, not a single frame is wasted in this strikingly lean first feature by Lisa Aschan, who developed She Monkeys through the Rookie Film initiative of Sweden, which provides funding to young directors working outside the mainstream.
Special support for this program generously provided by Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein, and by the Consulate General of Sweden, San Francisco. Presented in association with Women's Film Institute. New Directors Prize Contender.