Films from Tribeca: Aatsinki

A fascinating look at reindeer herders in the remote Finnish Lapland

    Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival

In Aatsinki, director Jessica Oreck follows a year in the life of a reindeer herding family in the remote reaches of Finnish Lapland. Dispensing with documentary conventions like sit-down interviews or narration, Oreck simply films Aarne and Lasse Aatsinki as they run their herding collective from one season to the next. This entails everything from rounding up reindeer on ATVs to keeping inventory of the reindeer in pens.

It’s a communal job at times, but also very solitary, requiring solo camping trips as they track reindeer across snowy landscapes. The film does not fill in all the blanks—you often wonder what they’re doing, and why—but Aatsinki is more about immersing you in this foreign, beautiful world than it is about explaining. Aarne and Lasse rely on an intimate knowledge of the land and the animals that inhabit it, and you’ll find yourself mesmerized by the minutia of their ancient trade.

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