Contemporary World Cinema
SIFF Says:In this sweeping countercultural romance, the true story of events that led up to the creation of Danish psychedelic band Steppeulven are illustrated in a flourish of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. It’s 1962 and amateur writer Eik has just fallen in love with the beautiful, free-spirited peace activist Iben, bonding with her over a shared interest in music and literature. They leave stuffy, bourgeois Copenhagen behind to explore the world, traveling through Baghdad, Nepal, and the deserts of Afghanistan. The new couple’s exploration includes experimenting with music, their bodies, and of course, hallucinogenic drugs. As the drugs take a firmer hold on Iben, taking her further and further away from Eik, he spontaneously starts a psych-rock band, named Steppeulven, to prove his love and commitment to her. A Danish sort of Captain Beefheart, Steppeulven explodes in popularity overnight, bringing Eik instant fame and popularity, although not necessarily what he truly wants. Fueled by an emotional storyline and powerful chemistry between the two leads, ITSI BITSI is more than a melancholic love story, providing a look at an outspoken generation in flux.
The '60s hippie dream of political activism, plentiful sex and drugs, world travel, and acoustic-guitar picking plays itself out among attractive Scandinavians in Ole Christian Madsen's sporadically inspirational Itsi Bitsi
. Based on the exploits of Eik Skaløe, frontman for important Danish psychedelic-folk group Steppeulvene (the Steppe Wolves, Hesse homage noted), the film follows Eik's transformation from earnest anti-nuclear-arms protester to struggling novelist to full-blown rock star. Along the way, he gets busted for possession a few times and competes with other men for his beautiful muse, Iben. Ultimately, Eik loses that battle and exits this mortal coil in a most romantic, stoic manner. (DAVE SEGAL)
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