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In the Shoes of the Dragon

The be-careful-what-you-wish-for principal is amply illustrated by "In the Shoes of the Dragon," about aspiring filmmaker Hronn Sveinsdottir's entry in the Miss Iceland contest. Initially viewing her participation as a semi-prankish way to expose the presumed vacuity of such beauty pageants, Sveinsdottir instead turns into a serious, even bratty competitor. Resulting self-scrutiny is not pretty. Rough-hewn docu could use some trimming, but has potential as an offshore broadcast pickup. </B>

The be-careful-what-you-wish-for principal is amply illustrated by “In the Shoes of the Dragon,” about aspiring filmmaker Hronn Sveinsdottir’s entry in the Miss Iceland contest. Initially viewing her participation as a semi-prankish way to expose the presumed vacuity of such beauty pageants, Sveinsdottir instead turns into a serious, even bratty competitor. Resulting self-scrutiny is not pretty. Rough-hewn docu could use some trimming, but has potential as an offshore broadcast pickup.

At outset, protag is a tomboyish 22-year-old who’s never worn high heels, smokes two packs a day, drinks “like a fish,” disdains exercise and echoes mom’s statement that such contests are “like a cattle show.” Nonetheless, it doesn’t take much fussing about before she looks like a viable beauty queen. She survives preliminaries and begins the training (fitness, deportment) as well as the media aspects of the contest — a big deal here since, despite its tiny populace, Iceland has thrice won the Miss World title. But external pressure, personal ambivalence and a surprising new aggressive streak soon turn Hronn into a temperamental, sometimes self-sabotaging mini-diva. Seriocomic tale holds attention, though its second half could be tightened.

In the Shoes of the Dragon

Iceland

Production: A Hassen Film and 20 Geitur production. Produced by Bovar Bjarki Petursson. Directed by Hronn Sveinsdottir, Arni Sveinsson.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Sigrun Hermannsdottir, Sveinsdottir, Sveinsson; editors, Steinfior Birgisson, Sveinsson, Larus Oskarsson. Reviewed at San Francisco Doc Fest, May 16, 2004. Running time: 93 min.

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