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Byron Shire
October 4, 2022

Cinema review: Woman At War

Latest News

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Surfing is a central part of Byron Bay’s identity and this year’s surf films are certain to bring the whole community together in a celebration of athleticism, wild seas and sheer joy in our exquisite environment.

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$30 million Aboriginal Community and Place Grants

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If you saw 2015’s outstanding Rams, you will be aware of the significant part played by landscape in Icelandic cinema. Benedikt Erlingsson’s taut, ironic and doggedly optimistic film takes it further by making it and the culture it has spawned the subject of his call to arms. Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) is a militant greenie – the first time we see her she is firing an arrow into power poles in order to shutdown a factory. Like a knitting nana on steroids, she is single-handedly taking on the boardroom barons who would ride roughshod over the environment and the traditional ways of life that it has sustained for generations. In contrast to Halla’s activism, her twin sister Ása is a touchy-feely yoga teacher who believes that chanting and reciting self-absorbed platitudes can change the world – their incompatible approaches dovetail into a resolution that is wildly contrived but absolutely satisfying. But before that, a media compliant with establishment views portrays Halla as a terrorist and a threat to national security. As authorities intensify their search for her with drones and helicopters (the US and Israel join the hunt), Halla learns that her application to become an adoptive parent has been approved and that a little girl from Ukraine is on her way to Reykjavik. Can she be both saboteur and mother? How will she align the personal with the political? A three-piece combo (tuba, accordion, drums) is present at every crucial moment, playing the part of a Greek chorus, as is a Spanish tourist riding his bicycle, the innocent bystander who can’t help getting caught up in events. It is heartening to be reminded that there are other peoples scattered across our besieged planet who are waging similar backs-to-the-wall campaigns against the dehumanising, soulless machine of globalisation. Halla’s fight might never be won, but she and her ilk are not going to die wondering. We are grateful to the Byron Bay International Film Festival for bringing to town Geirharðsdóttir’s inspiring movie. Don’t miss this one – it’s a beauty.

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