Sven Engholm, a former dog-sledding champion, founded Europe’s longest and most prestigious dog-sledding race: Finnmarksloppet. Apart form the race, Sven also created a special place for the most peculiar and extravagant travelers – Engholm Husk design Lodge. It is situated next to Karasjohka river, in Norway.
Sven provides accommodation which consists of hand-made cabins that he himself built out of wood. Christel, Sven’s partner, is responsible for all outdoor leather clothing for customers, all leather sofa covers and cushions in the design cabins. What else might allure you? The team consists of 50 highly-trained dogs for racing as well as for sledding tours and expeditions in winter. When visiting in summer, you can still go on a wilderness tour, try canoe or camp in the woods.
Axel Byrfors, the author of Vargsamtal, decided to pack his bags and head to the plateau of Finnmark to shoot a portrait of his relative – Sven. His eight-day shoot wasn’t really precisely prepared because emotions needed authenticity and freedom. Once Axel was surrounded by pure whiteness on every cardinal point he only had one choice – to submit. The script hadn’t focused on the overall content but rather on the emotions the crew wanted to feel in the film. And that helped to create something more poetic than expected.
On the plateau you get hit in the face by this harsh yet poetic and almost surreal vastness.
Secluded. Frozen. Silent. You expect the film to be a pure documentary inspecting a way of living, way of thinking, a travel inspiration maybe. It might all be an option, you’re not wrong. However, life itself chose the topic of Axel’s film.
Vargsamtal is all about dogs and how they reflect their masters. Every dog lover is encouraged to get passionate about sledding dogs and enjoy this little piece of a realistic fairytale. So who wants to jump on the sled and beat new trails with the pack?
Sven and his mates were crossing the Obi river and some of its fishing camps when IT happened. Several dogs started to follow their trail. Hungry, exhausted, waiting to be accepted in a new pack. Sven’s friend decided to give them harness along with the others to see if they will pull the sled. And it worked!
Sven provides care and love to his dogs. For that, dogs are able to give up on the ultimate freedom. However, is this really a life dogs should live? Serving humans? These are the questions dogs are confronted with by a wild wolf pack.
The wolves say: you dogs are so dumb pulling that sled without purpose. We are wolves and we can roam free. We represent freedom and we do as we please. The Russian stray dogs answer: we also know what it is like to be free. That means being hungry, getting hunted. The freedom of yours has a heavy price. We like this expedition. They give us food and shelter and we work from nine to five.
The story is both, witty and real. It makes you feel you are one of them, one of those dogs. Cohabitation of people and animals has followed generations for thousands of years. Animals either stayed free or got domesticated. Sven’s dog pack is happy to be both. Living in their natural habitat is only enriched by the contact with humans. Sven says:
If I were to choose another life leaving out being human then I would most definitely choose to be a sled dog.
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