I think every person—at some time or another—has dreamed of escaping the banal routine of daily life. It’s rooted in a desire to disconnect: the 9 to 5 grind of congested city-life replaced with a return to simplicity and nature. In this idealized fantasy, there are no more smart phones or emails to constantly check. The dream is simple—make your own schedule, live off the fat of the land, etc.
But, what if it wasn’t a dream? What if you could actually escape? What if you weren’t a slave to the system? The Heart Followers, a documentary by filmmaker Tord Theodor Olsen, captures this idealized way of life. Over the course of a blissful 10 minutes, we follow a Norwegian family of five who is truly living on their own terms. They’ve built a geodesic dome out in the arctic countryside. They grow their own food, protected from the weather. They live in harmony with the spectacular surroundings.
It may all seem like some sort of hippie day dream, but it’s both fascinating and true. Like another Short of the Week pick, Twenty Eight Feet, The Heart Followers captures a sort of universal desire to live beyond the boundaries of society. In Olsen’s experiential documentation of their way of life, we gain great insight into their mindset and what drives them to live apart from the world.
“As a journalist, I visited the family back in 2012 when they were still building the house,” Olsen explains via email. “Have you ever met someone that you are instantly comfortable being with? That’s the feeling I got while being with the family. A certain calmness and harmony filled me and those who were around them. And not in a meditative way, just from kindness and openness. I wanted others to have the same experience, so I chose the language I like best and made a short documentary about the family and their values. The goal with the film was to create the same calmness in the mind of my audience.”
Mission accomplished. While I wish the film delved into a bit more detail on to who these people are and the particulars of their way of life (so, do they make their own clothes? How do they grow grain? What if there is an emergency?). But, perhaps, the banality of the answers to those questions would somehow ruin things—deconstruct the fantasy to a point of practicality, when really, it’s satisfying to just sit back, watch the Northern Lights, and bask in the wonder of it all.
While The Heart Followers was essentially a “one-man-band” sort of production, Olsen is working with a larger crew on his next project—a short science fiction film entitled Saint Eliot, which he has written and will direct. He’s will soon launch a crowdsourcing campaign to garner some more funding for the project.