Movie review: "Amateurs" at the Tribeca Film Festival

Six years after her award winning debut success “Eat, Sleep, Die” (“Äta, sova dö” 2012) Swedish director Gabriela Pichler continues to portray a modern Sweden with nuances and intelligence in “Amateurs” ― not a dreamland but a truthful reality through an invented but typical Swedish town in Skåne, in which teenagers Aida and Dana go on a filmmaking journey with iPhones to make a promotional video showing the best their town has to offer.


Winning the prestigious and lucrative prize for best Nordic film at Göteborg Film Festival earlier this year, and earning rave reviews after the theatrical release in Sweden, this compelling story should resonate far from Scandinavia, both in small towns and in melting pot metropolises. Based on a script by Pichler and the acclaimed Swedish novelist Jonas Hassen Khemiri, “Amateurs” becomes a film inside a film, asking questions of representations and what the sense of community in a multicultural society actually means.

The small town of Lafors in southern Sweden is depicted in many layers and triggers numerous laughs. The German supermarket chain Superbilly is searching for a location to build in the area and the community board of Lafors devises a scheme to convince the business to choose their town. The board gives the responsibilities to a few local high school students and Aida and Dana are putting all their passion into it. When the student films are entertainingly amateurish the board brings in a conventional professional to finish the job. But the young girls just won’t stop filming.
The extraordinary first time actors Zahraa Aldoujaili, Yara Aliadotter and Fredrik Dahl create depth and humor out of small gestures and intense presence. Together with astonishing editing and naturalistic visuals by cinematographer and co-editor Johan Lundborg, the film widens cinematic storytelling and becomes both emphatic and honest yet beautifully touching, in particular Fredrik Dahl’s character and his relation to his mother. Just one late scene up the stairs packed with people, shot with an iPhone on a selfie stick, will blow your mind.
Gabriela Pichler and her team know how to create cinema at its best, with smart tools and many faces.

By Niclas Goldberg