Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Once Aurora

The music industry is a brutal place. Whilst the rise of Youtube, Instagram and other social media provided another route to stardom, the same exploitative industry system of managers and agents still remains. Artists have stark choices to make between controlling their musical direction and being able to eat. Landing a contract can be akin to soul to the devil. Your life is no longer your own and you can be worked like a machine until you have nothing left to give.

When a friend posted a video on Facebook of her performing a song at school, a 12-year-old Aurora Aksnes had no idea where it would lead her. At the age of 16, the Norwegian was discovered by a management agency, dropped out of school, and the rest is history. Stian Servoss and Benjamin Langeland’s new documentary Once Aurora picks up where the artist (now simply AURORA) is in 2016. In the middle of a massive world tour and fighting emotional and physical exhaustion, she begins to question what it means to be an artists.

Once Aurora is an intimate and vibrant portrait of a popstar struggling to make sense of what’s happening around her and trying to find her place in the world. Servoss and Langeland make good use of their access to the star, building up a picture of a troubled and fraught existence. Eschewing soap box or scandal, Once Aurora skilfully lifts the lid on what goes on behind the scenes. Whilst she might seem a little young for an existential crisis, there are loads of factors at play here. We’re given the opportunity to form our own opinions.

Once Aurora also screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 9 June.

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