A film about life at the road's end

4:50 min

Maud Nycander was one of the director's behind Sweden's most talked about documentary in 2012, Palme. Now she's back with a new and very different film, Road's End. It's a portrait of a woman called Daina. Unlike the former Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme, Daina is completely unknown and leads an isolated life in rural Latvia - together with her watchdog, George Bush.

“I got the idea of making a documentary about this woman while shooting another film in Latvia,” Nycander tells Radio Sweden.

“I first filmed her during the summer of 2009. Her house was like a bad country house in Sweden and when I imagined her life there in the winter, when temperatures drop to minus 20 degrees Celsius, I thought: ‘How does she manage and how does she handle the loneliness?’”

Daina lives in eastern Latvia, near the Russian border. The closest road is three kilometres away from her house, which has no running water and no electricity. Daina's two children have long since abandoned the impoverished countryside. Her son lives in Norway, her daughter in Italy.

Nycander says the film is like a time machine, allowing us to get close to a person who leads a life that is similar to how many Swedes lived a century ago, a kind of life that many Swedes tried to escape by emigrating.

While Nycander found many similarities between Sweden and Latvia, she says that most Swedes are not familiar with, or curious about, the country.

“In Sweden, we don't know very much about Latvia. We don't feel so close to Latvia,” Nycander says.

Nycander first met Dainain 2009. The final scenes of the film were shot in the summer of 2013 by the legendary still photographer Lars Tunbjörk.

Nycander would never have come across Daina were it not for Inta Ruka, a Latvian photographer who has documented Daina's life for three decades. Her intimate, black-and-white portraits are interspersed throughout the film, which is set to the haunting choral music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.

Nycander says the images and the music give the film a timeless feel. And it's a big contrast to her biopic about Olof Palme, a man who lived his life in the spotlight.

“The films are very different. Palme is one of the most well-known Swedes who has ever existed and Daina is a totally unknown Latvian woman...It’s a small film in that way but I don’t think one film was more interesting to make than the other, even though they are totally different.”

Road's End opens Friday October 4th at Stockholm's Museum of Photography, where it will be shown as part of an exhibition of Inta Ruka's photographs.