Filmmaker Axel Byrfors headed to the snow-bound plateau of Finnmark, along the Norwegian-Finnish border, for his latest film—a portrait of his relative Sven, who lives a secluded life in this wintery place, and the working dogs he breeds and cares for. Sven, a former dog-sledding champion, founded Europe’s longest and most prestigious dog-sledding race: Finnmarksloppet. Here, Axel talks about Sven, nature, and a life on sleds:

“We wrote an outline mostly on what we wanted the film to feel like rather than predicting it’s content. It ended up with me going there with a camera on an eight day-shoot not knowing really what to expect. With departure from southern Sweden it still took two plane rides and one day of hitchhiking to get there, and so I suddenly found myself in this kind of anomalistic landscape of white horizons in every direction. Sven has a couple of cabins that he builds himself and lives alongside his approximately sixty sled dogs, trying to maintain a mixed breed that fits the particular terrain and climate of this area.

“Once there, you can only play by Sven’s rules and agenda—there’s no room for alternate takes, manipulation of any kind or hardly even directing, so I ended up just capturing what seemed to us would give an engaging yet honest idea of who Sven is and what he’s about. It naturally ended up in a film about his dogs and how he reflects himself in them. In the film, Sven tells one of his many anecdotes, this one which takes place on an expedition in the Taiga. He tells it with both seriousness and humor, with honesty as well as distance. There is something in how he tells the story that in an abstract way resembles the landscape of Finnmark, which ultimately set the tone for the film. On the plateau, you get hit in the face by this harsh yet poetic and almost surreal vastness but you also get closer to something so basic and elemental. It may sound like a cliché but it’s very true. Interpretations aside, I hope dog lovers can embrace this five-minute film. Sven is happy to welcome anyone who wants to jump on the sled and beat new trails with the pack.”

Director – Axel Byrfors
Producers – Nils Byrors, Manu Aguer, Malena Kremenchuzky
Production – Panter&Company & Orkestern


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