Silje Evensmo Jacobsen, a documentary filmmaker from Norway, set out to capture a family living an idyllic life in nature. She was inspired by Maria Vatne’s blog, “Wild+Free,” which she found a decade ago. The blog detailed Maria’s life with her partner, Nik, and their four children, living on a farm away from city life. Initially, Jacobsen planned to make a series about them, but things changed when Maria became ill and passed away.
The film, titled “A New Kind of Wilderness,” which is debuting at the Sundance Film Festival, ended up telling a different story. It focuses on Nik and his children as they cope with their loss and try to uphold the dream he and Maria had. Jacobsen didn’t start filming until after Maria’s death, but with Nik’s agreement, as he felt Maria would have wanted their story told. The documentary blends Maria’s blog posts with the family’s efforts to move forward.
Maria’s thoughts from her blog form the core of the narrative. They are used to provide context to the family’s current situation, like when the kids go to school, contrasting with Maria’s preference for homeschooling. Jacobsen had to be selective with the blog content, even creating a special booklet for more in-depth reading.
The film also explores how Maria’s children, Ulv, Falk, Freja, and Ronja, are handling their unique upbringing and their mother’s absence. They still behave like normal kids, but their connection to nature and reflective attitudes show the impact of their unconventional childhood. The eldest, Ronja, faces her own challenges as she moves to the city and tries to maintain ties with her step-siblings.
Jacobsen didn’t want to romanticize their lifestyle, acknowledging the challenges of living off the grid. She emphasizes the importance of balancing modern life with being present and connected with our children, inspired by Maria’s approach to life.
Sundance Documentary ‘A New Kind of Wilderness’ Tracks Family Whose Dream Life Became a Nightmare https://t.co/nymPIrh96C
— Variety (@Variety) January 19, 2024
“A New Kind of Wilderness” was produced by Mari Bakke Riise and executive produced by Kim Christiansen, with A5 Film. Sales are handled by DR Sales and Cinetic. Source