Director: Hanna Sköld - Sweden
At 13, Eini (Blanca Engström) knows little beyond the great forest where she lives with her reclusive, abusive, Bible-reading father (Lennart Jähkel). “The outside world is dangerous; I’m dangerous.” They work side-by-side outdoors, and papa home schools. Should she break any of his rigid rules, he unflinchingly delivers dire consequences with a broom handle or fist. In parallel storytelling using stop-motion puppetry, we learn how, “It began long before”. Harold is happy when Lucia and Granny arrive. With time, a psychosis surfaces and devours the family’s female members. Now, when papa goes for supplies, Eini forages: in the house and forest. Her unanticipated find has a dramatic outcome; while searching the shed for batteries, she finds clues to her enigmatic past and, for Eini, a legendary grandmother. The father-daughter relationship deteriorates leaving the imaginative adolescent just one option. With patience and clever resourcefulness, Eini makes plans and waits for an opportune moment.
Writer-director Hanna Sköld unapologetically, fearlessly probes familial abuse steeped in religious fervor. Using puppetry sequences exudes a fairy-tale quality, exposing both Eini’s naiveté and self-reliance. Engström and Jähkel’s portrayals are finely nuanced. Giorgio Giampa’s music intensifies in tempo with the deeds that Ita Zbroniec Zajt’s muted, darkly tonal camera captures; Patrik Forsell judiciously edits. Funding the film was a crowd of 928 contributors. Abusive behavior is grim, but, Sköld’s richly folkloric–like exposé diminishes our abhorrence as we root for Eini.