If you're looking for something a little different to get you in the Christmas mood, then this film about the first year in the life of a reindeer may do the trick.
Ailo's Journey is the creation of French director Guillaume Maidatchevsky and was filmed over a year in the largest and northernmost region of Finnish Lapland. It's an intimate glimpse at a truly magical part of the natural world, while quietly considering the effects of climate change and human intervention on the landscape.
Needless to say, the scenery is stunning. If you're intrigued by the remote northern Scandinavian landscapes glimpsed in big studio films or documentaries, then this is worth seeing for the beauty alone.
Otherwise, Ailo's Journey is a bit of a first - a fictional tale shot like a nature documentary. We follow a semi-wild herd of reindeer as they descend from a mountain area to the forest where females give birth and follow one of those newborns as they then migrate across the Arctic.
Our little hero, Ailo, is born early as the herd is still making the descent and it's a small miracle he survives even his first day. It's the first of many challenges Ailo faces - there are rivers to be crossed, wolves to outrun, wolverines to outwit.
The characters Ailo meets along the way are great entertainment. If you thought wolverine was just the silly name of an X-Man, then meeting this real life and rather unique animal is a delight. The white stoat is a hoot of an animal; a real scene-stealer, as are the local squirrels. While there are plenty of furry folk to be charmed by, it's worth mentioning the wolves were too scary for the pre-schooler sitting next to me.
All the animals are real – there are no CGI animated talking animals involved - and Donald Sutherland is the celebrity narrator who brings this story to life for us. This is a family film and his company helps engage younger viewers but I can't help but think that these animals are entertaining enough without needing a narrator's help to explain themselves.
Director: Guillaume Maidatchevsky
Cast: Peter Franzen, Prinssi
Running time: 86 mins
Verdict: Sweet nature documentary for the whole family