Identity isn’t an important aspect in all documentaries but it is here. Director Havard Bustnes is a Norwegian man who calls himself a humanist. His subjects are three Greek women who happen to have relations with the Golden Dawn Party, Greece’s ultra-nationalist party. They’re Ultra-nationalist, far right, neo-Nazis. They are different words to express the same hateful and ugly ideology.
Bustnes and the women speak to each other in English. However, most of the time they respond to him in their mother tongue. They’re speaking on behalf of their men, mostly existing through archive footage. When he does talk to these women, his interpreter isn’t enough to bridge the gap between them. Language isn’t the only thing keeping them apart.
Bustnes eventually explains that the reason we’re spending time with the women is because their men are in prison. He also tells his audience how shocked he is that these women’s resolve in defending their men is stronger. These are a few of the film’s weakest points, revealing a naivety he has towards these women. He really thought they’d change.
Spending 90 minutes with Nazis is a difficult selling point, which is something I hope Bustnes knows. There’s some fortunate breathing room away from these women. He shows us that the Golden Dawn isn’t as popular in Greece as they would like everyone to believe. Anti-fascist rallies hit the streets as often, if not more often, than the fascist ones.
Some documentaries engage with Nazis so that we don’t have to. In doing so Bustnes chose the most evasive, distant people for subjects. I’m thankful that he didn’t use cheap, gotcha tactics in capturing people who indulge in conspiracy theories. But what we have here is a filmmaker who couldn’t get his subjects’ trust and presented us with something incomplete.
Hot Docs is showing Golden Dawn Girls at the Soctiabank Theatre on May 1 at 8:30 PM. It’s screening at the same venue on May 3 at 12:45 PM. Last show is at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on May 6 at 12:45 PM.
- Release Date: 5/1/2018