Christy Garland: Cheer Up

Christy Garland

Cheer Up

2016 Canada, Finland
86 min • English, Finnish. English Subtitles
Theme: Roleplay
18.11.2016 | Time: 17.00 | Venue: Tapio 3

The story of the most melancholic cheerleading squad in the world.

When the Canadian director Christy Garland discovered that cheerleading has gained popularity in Finland, she started to wonder exactly how this mega-positive American sport translates to the much gloomier northern psyche. The documentary follows the Arctic Circle Spirit Ice Queens, a cheerleading team from Rovaniemi, northern Finland. The head coach of the team, Miia, idolises the American spirit and wants to make her squad number one, but so far Artic Circle Spirit has remained at the bottom of the ranking list. The spirit at the practice is more sombre than smiley, and blood and tears cannot be avoided.

In addition to the poor success of the squad, the world seems to be roughing up the cheerleaders themselves. Patricia is struggling to adjust to her mother’s passing and her father’s new family, and Aino is thinking about quitting cheerleading in order to be truer to herself. Under all the bravado and indifference there is a tender teenage heart, and a raw need to be accepted.

Watching Garland’s film is both a tragicomic and touching experience. It is also a warm and considerate look into the lives of these young women, who consider team spirit and friendship more important than winning.