In Golden Dawn Girls, director Håvard Bustnes offers up a no-nonsense approach to a growing phenomenon: the rise of nationalist politics. Bustnes’s focus is on the Greek party “The Golden Dawn”, which has grown to the third largest party in parliament over the past decade. When some of the most influential men in the party are imprisoned awaiting trial in response to their violence acts, the women behind the party – the “Golden Dawn Girls” – become the face of an ultra right-wing party that uses violence, intimidation, and acerbic rhetoric as its main forces for change.

Bustnes goes for a cinéma vérité presentation, mixing interviews with key members of The Golden Dawn with scenes where his camera is merely a fly-on-the-wall. His main subject is Ourania, daughter of the founder of The Golden Dawn and husband to one of its highest-ranking and most violence-prone members. He offers voice-over summations of the interviewees, as well as his own comments. Often, these are too on-the-nose, and could have been communicated with more subtlety.

The film opens and closes with the same point-blank question, which Ourania cannot or will not answer: will you categorically state that the Nazi political philosophy of National Socialism is wrong? And, will you recognize the similarities between this historical party and The Golden Dawn?

As such, Bustnes’s film is a contemplation of cognitive dissonance, an exploration of how ideologies can inspire people to great things – but also inspire them to ignore problems. The Golden Dawn Girls act as stalwarts for the party when their men are the target of a government that they believe is immoral and are completely committed to the philosophy.

Tuesday, May 1, 8:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Thursday, May 3, 12:45 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Sunday, May 6, 12:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox