Songs of Earth – the most beautiful documentary of the 63. Krakow Film Festival hits cinemas this fall

It opened the 63rd Krakow Film Festival to universal acclaim from both audiences and critics. Produced by Liv Ullmann and Wim Wenders, the visually and sonically poetic film Songs of Earth by Margreth Olin is going to hit Polish cinemas on October 27. The documentary is distributed by the Krakow Film Foundation, the festival’s organiser.

Margreth Olin’s Songs of Earth is an extremely personal film for the director, who left her family home thirty years ago. Olin visits the mountainous regions of western Norway with her camera to follow in her parents’ footsteps and answer the question: where am I from? Family history turns into a breathtaking visual-sound poem. Looking through two lenses – micro and macro – the documentary reveals to us a world that is both intimate and highly universal. The camera follows her father through four seasons of the year. The man wanders in the footsteps of his ancestors through the wild, mountainous regions of his small homeland. His journey is accompanied by a deep reflection on the meaning of life and human relations with nature.

 have always dreamed of making such a film. I wondered how best to portray the deep bond between man and nature and returned home to visit my father – documentary’s creator confessed. – My father is now 86 years old, and perhaps his generation is the last to have a deep understanding of how to care for nature.

The film was honoured in Kraków with the Samsung Excellence Line award for exceptional image quality. Meanwhile, the Krakow Film Festival gave Songs of Earth a recommendation for the European Film Award in the documentary category. 

The uniqueness of the film was also recognized by Polish and international critics:

  • ‘Songs of Earth’, a cinematic symphony arranged for the crackle of breaking ice (…) the buzzing of insects, the creaking of tree branches, the roar of a waterfall and the wind whistling in a cave to the rhythm of falling droplets or measured steps of a wanderer, – Justyna Grochal wrote for Wysokie Obcasy.
  • If one were to treat Margreth Olin’s ‘Songs of Earth’ as a love letter to nature, we would certainly not be dealing with a romantic paean in awe of its majesty, but rather a contemplation of the inseparability between the coexisting spheres of life and death. This audio-visual poem is not another more or less alarmist call about the seriousness of the climate crisis. It is a peculiar archive, pulsating with life and at the same time struggling with transience on various scales, from the local (…) to the global reviews Patryk Ciesielczyk from Pełna sala.
  • An important and exceptionally beautiful film capturing never-seen-before images of Norway. A meditative experience where you feel and listen to the songs of the earth, – Annika Pham marvels in Variety.
  • The majestic and sublime beauty of western Norway fills the frames of Margreth Olin’s breathtaking and panoramic ‘Songs of Earth’. Our journey through this rugged landscape (…) is accompanied by orchestral songs based on the sounds of nature in Nordfjord – notices Carmen Gray from Modern Times Review.
  • It’s a quietly profound film, one that encourages appreciation of the world through exultant widescreen landscape shots, macro close-ups and textured field recordings of skittering bugs and crunching ice. It also preaches acceptance of the inevitable cycles of nature – cycles that we, as humans, should learn to embrace rather than fight against. – Wendy Ide wrote for Screen Daily

Margreth Olin has so far made a dozen films that have gained acclaim among audiences and critics, participated in numerous festivals worldwide, and won many Norwegian and international awards. Her previous film, co-produced with Katja Hogset and Espen Wallin, The Self Portrait, was also awarded at the 60th Krakow Film Festival – it won, among others, the Audience Award.  

In her films, Olin addresses important topics, establishing a close relationship with the characters. She received 26 awards for her commitment to human rights issues. Her new feature-length documentary Songs of Earth (2023) was produced by BBC and SWR in cooperation with ARTE, and with Wim Wenders and Liv Ullmann as executive producers.

The film is distributed by the Krakow Film Foundation, the organiser of the Krakow Film Festival and many other initiatives promoting the most interesting Polish and international documentaries.

The Krakow Film Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. 

More information at kff.com.pl