A circus artist from one of the documentary’s strands explains how his show, Knitting Peace, throws out images and emotions and lets audiences draw their own conclusions. Unfortunately, this is much too true of Yarn itself. Though writer Krishan Arora has fashioned portraits of some fascinating artist-cum-activists and their work, there is very little contextualisation and it merely feels like the tip of the iceberg.
The opening signals a clear intention to exploit the dual meaning of “yarn”; a word that indicates the film’s subject and the artists’ primary material, and also emphasises the concept of storytelling. Due to a lack of analysis, abrupt changes of scene and focus, and a whole bundle of unexplored threads (excuse the pun), this is an emphasis Yarn could have done without. The range of subjects, though, is pleasantly surprising, including a yarn graffiti artist, a children’s playground designer and a fine artist specialising in crochet.
The global approach enables an enjoyable travelogue feel as Yarn investigates artists in Iceland, Germany, Spain, Cuba and more. In the Cuba segments in particular, the directors display an acute political consciousness. Elsewhere there’s consideration of the place of women in a male-dominated art world, and guerrilla knitting is posited as a feminine and feminist activity. However, the filmmakers are unable to present these issues with the conviction of their subjects, who are far more bold and engaging.
Care has been taken to integrate Yarn’s subject visually; animated knitting materials and knitted creations add a bit of personality to the filmmaking, but distract from subtitles when subjects speak in foreign languages.
Though imperfectly woven together, Yarn is a soothing and occasionally insightful watch. The vibrant and articulate artists interviewed overwhelm the film’s minimal verve, and suggest a higher potential which the directing team fail to realise.
CAST: Barbara Kingsolver, Olek, Tinna Thorudottir Thorvaldar
DIRECTORS: Þórdur Bragi Jónsson, Una Lorenzen, Heather Millard
WRITER: Krishan Arora
SYNOPSIS: Every stitch tells a tale. International artists and knitters take a simple skein of yarn to create their extraordinary ideas and stories.