Together with his 2 year old daughter Dana in a pram, and an English assistant Georgia, film maker Mikael Strandberg sets off walking 750 km:s from one of the most deprived areas of England Moss Side, to one of the richest, Buckingham Palace in London. Travelling has always been a way for him to look for and understand the meaning of life. In this particular case, he wants to understand an England where foodbanks are growing fast because many doesn´t have enough food for the day and as he at the same time visits one of the most expensive private schools in the world.
Mikael Strandberg is very possibly the most respected and experienced explorer that we have ever had associated with this festival. We thrive on the lo-fi goonery of gifted amateurs but Strandberg is A-list, the real deal. In his fifties, he has made documentaries and expeditioned to some of the wildest places on earth. Yemen, Siberia, Patagonia, Darien Gap etc. However, nothing could have prepared him for the total immersion required for this experience. He had been keen to get ‘under the skin’ of the English but his project was hobbled by not being able to afford the childcare for Dana, his little girl! So, he realised he would have to take her with him. What emerges is one of the most remarkable documentaries this festival will ever witness. Strandberg resolutely shoots unprepared and spontaneously. If a celeb did this trip a young intern would be feverishly setting up local ‘characters’ for our hero to ‘encounter’. Not so for this man. A stunning document that is like secretly reading a school report about yourself, before it gets mailed to your parents, but you didn’t score very well….
2014 • Mikael Strandberg • Video • 58 mins
Adventure Travel Festival
What a wonderful, personal and unsettling film. There’s so many layers to it. The importance of family rubs awkwardly against the Englishman’s fear of the outsider. The gradual transformation of the countryside from unkempt, brick-terraced north to the lush, green ordered opulence of the moneyed home counties provides an inescapable physical narrative of our inability to come to terms with our post-industrial nation. It points to my suspicion that the growth of financial services and information industries in the south has left the north redundant and frustrated. Those from ‘outside’ are willing to take whatever opportunities there are to earn money for the prospect of security while the ‘True Brits’ seethe on benefits. Georgia’s reserved excitement, tragedy and finally finding her voice and realising her dream also underscore the fundamental importance of family as does your own besottedness with Dana and the growth of her self-confidence.
Your film portrays a country that is struggling to come to terms with itself at a really important time in both the UK’s and Europe’s history. The Irishman’s assertion that we have become fat and lazy suggests uncomfortable that we are unable to face who we have become and what we have let happen. It seems to me that Brexit is insane but at the same time I understand more clearly what was happening in the run up to the vote in the communities, lanes and fields of our fractured Nation. Could you do this again from one end of the British isles to the other? Let me think about how we get the film or you a bigger UK audience.
Well done brother it’s an important, compelling and disturbing film.
“What a quirky and insightful film, shedding light on the complexities of humans and the world and societies in which we live. The film resonated with me so much as a Brit who only really learnt what it means to be a British islander from my own time living abroad when you are at your most sensitive to all the cultural differences. It is a journey of personal discovery, of a bond with a child and the preciousness of the father and daughter moments that pass by so fast, and relationship to the community in which you live and from which you come from, but with an unexpected journey of what it means to be a female on an expedition and the journeys into motherhood. The female element was especially interesting as you have two strong females and can see their interaction with the newest generation Dana – what will her world and expectations of her be? On the surface you might think it is just a man walking with a pram, but the journeys go so much deeper than that. Absolutely superb, and I really hope there will be more films like this on the way. Such a refreshing change from the bog standard expeditions you see on TV these days from public school boys on a glammed up jolly.”
Sarah, world rower
Review of Man With A Pram by Fraser who invented the name Man With A Pram and who is a master of trailers, for example he did the one for Slumdog Billionaire:
“I loved your film! As a post-Brexit film and understanding why it happened, it is spot on!
I didn´t expect this quality of your production based on when we met in Luxemburg at the producers event last year, when you showed us what you had done with the film so far, I think most people just thought you were a crazy oddball.
I liked many things in the film. Georgia Villalobos and her story was heart-breaking but ended so fantastically well. She did a very good job.
Your relation with your daughter, especially when you woke up early in the morning in the tent, I think all fathers dream of that.
You accurately describe how complex British society is today
That old man and that scene was the best in the film. Did he just invite you?
Your daughter seems to be a natural.
My only negative point is that I wish it would have been longer!
Review Man With A Pram, Drew from the Explorers Club::
Its funny watching it from the other side of the world and living on a small island in the pacific, especially realising how much i remembered from growing up in the UK. The young guys in the film show what lets the UK down and the older gents show what made britain great- in my opinion.
I think having Georgia gave a real nice element and also explained some of the nuances that make the english english. It would be very interesting to see the exact same thing done in other countries and see what peoples reaction would be to you doing it. I have to hold my hands up and say i find it incredibly brave of you to take your daughter on this trip but yet the film also makes me question why i find it brave- as you say in the film, everyone seems terrified of something. Its bred into everyone in the UK. Its unsettling how true your comments where about green meaning rich, no green means poor. Harsh but ultimately very true.
Its an important film for people to watch, I’m not sure who’s its more important too- the english to see themselves or the non english to see inside england.
Crack on Buddy,
Don Walsh, The conquerer of the Mariana Trench reviewed Man With A Pram:
Just watched it… Fantastic and who said the Swedes do no have a sense of humor?
A great story with great production values. Clearly you are quite used to working with a minimal ‘film crew’ and the result is outstanding.
Well done to you!
I really appreciate your joy and enthusiasm about being a ‘later in life’ father. Sweeter is the prize…
Best wishes to you and your family,
Man With A Pram review:
What a hoot – Kate and I watched this last night and enjoyed your exploits – great to see Dana having fun too – loved her running around Hagley Hall in her nappy.
I spent a lot of time in Edale through the years and that was an interesting set of insights – what I didn’t understand about the gamekeeper story was why his employer could not change his contract terms to allow him to live in the village – found that a bit odd.
The clearly pissed / stoned guy who did the rap for you was a complete nutter and the fellow who started off with “I’m not a racist …but” what a classic line. BUT the best bit was the guy who didn’t want you filming in the street outside his house but could not articulate
why – what a crazy island this is…… it made me laugh
Great adventure and thanks for sharing it with us
Review of Man With A Pram from Unai, film critique from South America:
I’m watching your film right now. Tack!
It´s very entertaining, and unexpectedly socio-political in a soft way, which I love.
Congratulations, it is a wonderful film. Do you have a distributor?
Thomas from Northumberland:
“Both myself and my wife watched it last night. I am sorry, but I am no great film critic, I can only tell you how it made me feel watching it.
I felt a little worried and concerned that people watching this from outside the UK, would form an opinion of us brits, based on the people you spoke to on the film, an opinion that I think a lot of people have already. The people you spoke to were either upperclass or working class. The whole union jack tattoed builder type people have very much an anti immigrant, “Fuck the rest of the world” attitude and the upperclass are generally very lucky and have privileged lives due to family inheritance that causes them to be slightly detached from everyone else.
The guy in the hoody rapping and swearing made both myself and my wife cringe! your friend who owned the large house, who mentioned that his gamekeeper couldn’t live in the village due to not being able to afford to live there, made we think well that’s because people like him are buying second homes in the country and pushing prices up. This is the same around were I live.
In conclusion I think the route and area of your walk told one story, but the same length walk in other areas would be very a different experience.
well done on making a very interesting, if slightly awkward for us brits, doc.”
Review from Irish friend:
Hallo Mikael, we finally watched your film together as a family. We all really enjoyed it. It’s an insightful perspective on the English. Although my parents are English, because I was brought up in Ireland I often find it hard here because people don’t say what they think much and I get into trouble for saying what I think! Also I can see that the Irish are much more open than the English generally & hospitable but I’m sure the English have done good points too – not just dressing up smart & having wars! I wish we could camp wherever we want too, I think you can in Scotland. It was lovely to see Pam & the kids on film, they look so young & cute. Hope the film promotion is going well, hopefully Brexit will mean more people want to watch it. Much love from Manchester, Lx
Branding agency, London:
Review of Man With A Pram y Polish/French Director Edward P:
this is a brilliant film.
I’ve learned a lot about you. it reminded me a lot about england that I’ve knew from my english time. and it is very much entertaining.
Review on Imbd:
Mikael’s documentary “A Man with a Pram” made me think. He challenges the viewer to consider their own background, social class, values, beliefs…etc. It successfully achieves what an anthropologist intends to do when examining a society or a group of people, who are different to their own. The anthropologist also acknowledges their own cultural perspective, questions their own bias and previous attitudes in order to draw new conclusions and to present scenarios as they encounter them, warts and all. This film thoughtfully presents the harsh differences and realities of different groups of people in Britain today. This is a Britain where rifts, not just cracks exist across social class, age group, education, between those of the urban areas, cities and the countryside. The film highlights the cultural and social disparities, which perhaps aren’t readily observable. A foreigner inevitably has a different view of the group that they’re travelling amongst and inevitably makes observations and comments as they are viewing another group of people through their own prism. It’s worthwhile to hear those observations, especially as the inhabitants of this island are increasingly divided. Sadly, those uncomfortable differences need to be stated especially as these differences, inequalities, and similarities effect expectations, attitudes, beliefs, and opinions. Mikael’s film kindly presents a means by which the complex dilemmas over immigration, identity, and nationalism are observable. Such ideas are tough and it is easier to deal with in the abstract, but harder when they are attached to people with names and faces.
The film kindly highlights the idea that people from one place are similar to others in the world. Every one generally wishes to be comfortable, in familiar places, safe, away from cold and starvation. The film gently challenges and this is a good thing. A film by someone from another country may show a view that is characterized by a far more acute sensitivity to differences. The experience ‘mirror’s one’s own cultural insecurities, strengths and differences. Mikael’s film highlights various identities which define the natures of an English or a British person. The viewer is forced to think, their perceptions are challenged and their realities are questioned particularly if they happen to be English or from the United Kingdom.
The toughest films to watch are often those made of a group of people, another nation, by someone from another country. Even if you don’t want to be provoked into thinking…do watch this documentary as it shows Dana, Mikael’s daughter, revel in the joys of exploring somewhere with no preconceptions at all as regards people and places. She is curious, full of the joys of life, and determined to explore the limits of her own world as it’s opening up in terms of where she is, who she is, and who she encounters. She reminds the viewer that children are apt to make the most appropriate observations as they don’t just see the need to be diplomatic so they invariably make the most honest comments that those of who are adults, don’t dare make or ask. She was in a sense a foil for the tougher and larger issues which Mikael’s expedition raised.