Documentary Tells Icelandic Gender Equality Story Through Snowboarding

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Photo credit: Anne-Flore Marxer

Following years of fighting for gender equality in Europe’s snowboarding, Anne-Flore Marxer has channeled her efforts into an award-winning film.

Marxer has been traveling the globe screening “A Land Shaped by Women,” a documentary following her and her friend and fellow world champion snowboarder Aline Bock as they explore Iceland, a place ranked first in gender equality by the United Nations nine years in a row.

Her battles in gender equality in snowboarding ultimately resulted in equal prize money in freestyle competitions and brought women back on the Freeride World Tour, but the constant struggles took their toll.

“I was so tired; I had no more joy,” Marxer said about her feelings following her last competition win in 2017. “I decided to go to Iceland for a week. I heard it was on the forefront of gender equality and I needed a break and to find empowerment and inspiration.”

What she found in Iceland was exactly what she needed, but discovered a deeper desire to tell the story of Iceland’s women, as well as a more empowering snowboarding movie than the historic male triumph story.

Marxer and Bock ended up spending an entire winter in Iceland, tracing the history of the island nation’s women’s equality movements from the 1915 right to vote to Oct. 24, 1975, when 90 percent of Icelandic women brought the country to a standstill by no working or fulfilling their daily duties, demonstrating their importance.

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“What struck me was how women created and brought the change,” Marxer said. “They didn’t play by the rules. They brought about change to the political landscape by bringing the issues to the center of the social debate and changed how the politics worked.”

Through the movie, interviews with Icelandic women and footage of snowboarding and surfing — Marxer is also an avid surfer — are shown. The focus was to alter the path of snowboarding videos.

“The storytelling is most often telling about the extreme and dangerous conditions and how one guy can survive and reach the top,” she said. “That narrative is very reductive because in snowboarding and skiing, 40 percent of participants are women. I was seeking female inspiration and setting a different narrative.

“All these moments we spend on the mountain or the sea, it’s magical. You don’t need to be a man to experience the joy of these beautiful sports.”

As she’s screened the movie across the globe, “A Land Shaped by Women” has won 13 awards at film festivals and she’s seen inspiration and sparked discussions in the women and girls in attendance —  but also the men, an aspect Marxer said she never imagined.

“A Land Shaped by Women” is now available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox, PlayStation, Vimeo on Demand, VUDU and FandangoNow.

“For me, it’s beautiful the film is getting me to places around the world and I’m just hopeful that the most amount of women [possible] have a chance to watch it,” she said. “It has nothing to do with me, but I know this film is bringing quite a bit of beautiful empowerment and inspiration I wish for the younger generations.”

Marxer said she has several ideas rattling around in her head for her next project, but she’s not going to rush into anything as she hopes another project will present itself in a similar fashion.

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“I would like to leave the door open to magic again,” she said. “I want to be able to finish this and let it grow on its own and have its own life. What happened was magical to have the inspiration that led to this.”

It’s likely the next project will be in a similar theme to “A Land Shaped by Women,” as she wants to tell the stories of women across the globe. She also knows sports can play an important role in empowering women and building self-confidence.

“It was never a plan for me to become a world champion,” Marxer said. “There are very few places you can grow your self-esteem, but in sports, it’s easy to grow. When you understand you have to put effort in gaining ability, you have to build skills and over time, you become better and it makes you smile.

“You don’t need someone to tell you you did a good job. You can feel it. Sports are the best way to get empowered, and once you have it in sports, you can use it in all other aspects of life.”