Film Reviews

Review: ‘Hobbyhorse Revolution’

Hot Docs 2017

Courtesy of Hot Docs


Hobbyhorse Revolution
(Finland, 90 min.)
Dir. Selma Vilhunen
Programme: Magnificent Obsessions (North American Premiere)

Previously a children’s pass-time, hobbyhorses have become increasingly popular among teenaged girls and young women. A stick with a plush horse’s head, the hobbyhorse has become the centre of a subculture where women and girls ride and play with these toys, enter competitions, go to specialised training camps, and participate in online communities. Hobbyhorse Revolution, directed by Oscar-nominated Selma Vilhunen, follows three Finnish hobbyhorse enthusiasts. Over the course of the film, we discover their experiences with the toys and their community.

Alienated, bullied, struggling with their home-lives, or dealing with depression, the protagonists of Hobbyhorse Revolution find comfort within this child’s toy. Escaping through the fantasy of the hobbyhorse, the girls are able to forge lives for themselves. We watch as they grow as women, moving through life more comfortably with the support of the hobbyhorse and its community. The film’s protagonists discuss their anxieties over bullying—hobbyhorses as an adult pastime are mocked or pitied by their peers, and so they hide their interest from friends and acquaintances.

Vilhunen exhibits great care and sensitivity when dealing with her subjects. Sympathetically exploring the stigma these girls face, she equally looks to the delight and pleasure that hobbyhorses bring to them as they cope with the struggles of daily life. With kindness and sincerity, Hobbyhorse Revolution allows these girls to express their untempered joy, giving us an inside look into what makes them tick.

Warm and funny, Vilhunen presents a thoughtful and non-judgmental look at the Finnish hobbyhorse community in her documentary. A compelling film on the phenomenon, Hobbyhorse Revolution celebrates its subject matter with enthusiasm, resulting in a doc which is both deeply moving and endlessly amusing.

Hobbyhorse Revolution screens:
-Wednesday, May 3 at Cineplex Scotiabank at 5:30 PM
-Thursday May 4 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 4:00 PM
-Saturday, May 6 at Cineplex Scotiabank at 1:15 PM

Visit the POV Hot Docs Hub for more coverage from this year’s festival!