Film Reviews

Winter’s Yearning Review: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Hope can be cruel when placed in the hands of corporations


Winter’s Yearning
(Norway/Denmark/Greenland, 77 min.)
Dir. Sidse Torstholm Larsen, Sturla Pilskog

In 2007, when American aluminium giant ALCOA announced it was exploring plans to build a plant in Maniitsoq, Greenland, the venture was seen as the means of creating jobs and securing independence from Denmark. Archive footage of the countrywide celebrations open Winter’s Yearning but the inevitable delays result in the small fishing community being on standby for years. In order to get a better understanding of what life is like in Maniitsoq, the narrative is divided amongst three individuals: a young woman working in the factory, a social worker, and the town’s aluminium coordinator.

Initially, one thinks that the story is going explore the relationship between Maniitsoq and ALCOA but the latter never makes an appearance even in the form of interviews. Granted, there is the possibility that the company declined to take part in the documentary, but it results in an unfulfilled premise. The real intention is to explore the dynamics of a community that feels isolated, destitute, and driven to drink. The first quarter of Winter’s Yearning features cinematography by Henrik Ipsen that makes one marvel and fear the snowy abyss and the editing by Åsa Mossberg is paced in a way that you can feel the prevailing cold and loneliness. Even though there is nothing wrong with the score composed by Sebastian Öberg, the most immersive moments rely solely on the production sound crafted by Niels Arild.

Filmmakers Sidse Torstholm Larsen and Sturla Pilskog have done an admirable job of staying in the background; however, the overarching Waiting for Godot storyline gets rather repetitive and drawn out just like the delayed construction of the aluminium plant. There is a conclusion to the saga, but one wonders if a more compelling documentary could be forged from the premise, rather than getting lost in the endless waiting.

Winter’s Yearning screens October 17-19 during Toronto’s Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival with a virtual panel on Oct. 19 at 7:00pm.