Panorama | Vanguard
Shot at the height of summer in the Swedish village of Kvidinge, John Skoog’s debut feature Ridge is both a portrait of migrant workers and a symphony of mechanized manufacturing. To bear witness to its magisterial images is to confront the eeriness of modern labour, and this tension - between beautiful pastoral scenes on the one hand, and discomfiting images of production on the other - helps create a sense of dissonance so crucial to the film’s investigation of capitalism and its alienating effects.
Although Skoog mainly concerns himself with scenes of harvest work (much of it done by machine), his gaze remains sensitive to the human characters on the fringes of the frame: two children who drive a tractor in a video game; a Polish teenager who receives a haircut while undergoing a grooming of another sort; and Agnieszka Podsiadlik, so good in VIFF 2018’s Mug, who appears here among a crowd of otherwise unknown workers. It’s a testament to Skoog’s vision that although we can’t help but marvel at the film’s parade of technological wonders, it’s what’s not depicted (i.e. the social impacts of these economic innovations) that haunts the mind well after the film is over.
"The way it looks makes it stand out… for it may turn out to be one of the most beautifully shot films of the year, with Ita Zbroniec-Zajt’s cinematography (which already earned her the Sven Nykvist Cinematography Award at the Göteborg Film Festival) so luscious it’s almost too much to stand sometimes." - Marta Balaga, Cineuropa
DOX:AWARD (Best Film), CPH:DOX 19