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Brothers Aarne and Lasse Aatsinki live with their families in Finnish Lapland where they’re “cowboys” – actually reindeer herders who take care of the last wild reindeer in the country. They rely on the reindeer for everything from work to transportation to food, living amongst them in the wilderness. The film follows Aarne, Lasse, their wives and kids for the span of a year as they live a life pretty much cut off from the rest of the world (save for the odd tourist looking for a ride on a reindeer-pulled sled), living off the land yet still as reliant on their Wii and other techno gadgets as much as those who live closer to an urban centre.

This is a quiet doc that simply observes the Aatsinkis as they go about their day, herding reindeer, tagging them, butchering some for food and sitting by a bonfire cooking their dinners and enjoying the beauty of their surroundings. The cinematography in this film is extraordinary and there are quite a few breathtaking shots that are really like nothing you’ve ever seen before (unless, of course, you’re accustomed to seeing hundreds of reindeer with antlers as tall as the beasts are long springing through a forest). This is what makes Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys different from most other docs you’ll see at this year’s fest, yet that observational quality and the lack of explanation about what’s happening may not appeal to everyone.

Is Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys Essential Hot Docs Viewing?

This is the type of film that will greatly benefit from being seen on a huge screen so one can appreciate the majesty of the landscape, just be prepared for its slow pacing and lack of contemporary doc structure.

Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys Screening Times

Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys Trailer

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