Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys ***Dir: Jessica Oreck. With: Aarne Aatsinki, Lasse Aatsinki. 84 mins. Cert: NC
Jessica Oreck’s Kickstarter-funded documentary moves in similar circles to the recent Sweetgrass and Leviathan: eschewing context for immersive textures, it plunges us into the lives of those Lasses (and lassies) with lassos charged with controlling Lapland’s reindeer population. While observing routines that wouldn’t be so alien to the Duke of Red River – building fences and fires, funnelling grunting beasts this way or that – it sometimes strays off the beaten track into shapelessness, but Oreck lends individual segments a quiet fascination: rarely can anyone have paid such rapt attention to reindeer dental records, or made such plain, quotidian drama from a wolverine hunt. Sensitive viewers should be warned of some grisliness involving those unfortunate Rudolphs marked for slaughter, though even this might be considered a show of Aatsinki’s honest curiosity, how Oreck reaches into the unglamorous guts of this world to pull out something you won’t have seen before.
Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys is touring selected cinemas nationwide.