Silvana, directed by Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, and Christina Tsiobanelis, is half concert documentary and half personal love story. Your enjoyment of this film will hinge on whether you are interested in one or both halves.
The eponymous Silvana Imam is a hip-hop and rap artist well-known and immensely popular in Sweden for her outspoken feminist lyrics. This film follows her from 2014 to 2016, with a few visits to 1994 for good measure. We also see the sparks of her blossoming attraction for pop singer Beatrice Eli, and it does the heart good to see these societal outcasts find comfort and solace in each other. Their anger on stage is replaced by cuddles, kisses, and sweet nothings.
Comparing footage of Silvana at a party thrown in her honour and at an event in which Beatrice is a guest is rather telling. At her own party, Silvana is wild and flirtatious – a central bed is both prop and suggestion. At the event with Beatrice, Silvana is meek and eager to impress her muse (Beatrice, in fact, has inspired many of Silvana’s lyrics).
As a deaf film critic, I did not get much enjoyment out of the concert performances featuring Silvana and sometimes Beatrice. However, I do realize that I am not the film’s intended audience for many reasons. Focusing solely on the love story aspect, I would have liked to see Silvana be more forthcoming about her anxieties around her performances towards 2015 and 2016, which eventually led her to take a break from performing. It is not clear based on this documentary what caused Silvana to want to shun the spotlight – perhaps, she was simply getting burned out of her lifestyle, but perhaps the rise of right-wing extremists in Sweden may have had something to do with it as well.
Perhaps Silvana’s fans who have followed her for a while will be able to fill in the gaps in this documentary, and it does seem as if there is something for everyone in this film to appreciate – some may have to search harder than others to find it.
Saturday, May 26, 2:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox