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#HotDocs23 Review: Lynx Man

May 7, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2023 Hot Docs Film Festival runs from April 27th to May 7th in Toronto, more information on tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

In director Juha Suonpää’s documentary Lynx Man, we are introduced to a unique subject; Hannu, an older Finnish man who has appointed himself guardian of the Eurasian lynx. With hunters illegally killing the wildcats for sport, the species has become endangered. Hannu has taken it upon himself to save them from extinction by tracking their movements and getting to know the individual animals.

The film mainly unfolds through night vision footage of the animals that Hannu captures using motion-activated cameras he strategically hides in the woods, including images of the animals playfully going up to explore them. Hannu also leaves messages for them, and marks his territory for the animals, even wearing a paper lynx mask at points to blend in with them.

The result is an interesting documentary that exists as a mix between nature film, weird human interest doc, and art piece, with scenes of Hannu waxing philosophical in the sauna, and dreamlike projections of animals against the moonlit silhouettes of trees. While it’s somewhat inevitable that Lynx Man will draw comparisons to Werner Herzog’s documentary Grizzly Man, the film is tragic in a different way, with the biggest threat coming to the animals that Hannu is working tirelessly to protect. It’s as much a unique reminder to get in touch with the natural world as it is a portrait of this eccentric subject.

Screenings: No more festival screenings, but the film will be streaming online across Canada from May 5th to 9th, and tickets can be purchased here.

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