Survivors to recreate Norway’s Mass Shooting for documentary

A little over five years ago, a gunman killed 69 people at an island summer camp, the worst massacre in Norway since World War II. A gunman, dressed as a policeman, docked on the island where summer campers – members of the young Labour Party – were on their annual retreat. The gunman began shooting, and in 77 minutes he killed 69 people.

The Utoya Massacre has been called Norway’s 9/11, a violent event so traumatic it has scarred the entire society. It is estimated one in four Norwegians knew someone affected by the attacks.

A documentary film in now in development that will recreate the July 22 massacre with the help of survivors of the original attack.

As Norway, and the world, today commemorates the Utoya tragedy, documentary filmmakers from the region are finalizing plans for a film — Reconstructing Utoya— that would recreate the July 22 massacre, with the help of survivors of the original attack.

“When this thing happened, the focus was almost entirely on the perpetrator, as it is always in these kinds of attacks, whether in Utoya or in recent attacks in Nice or Florida,” says Fredrik Lange, who is producing the film and co-wrote the script with director Carl Javer (source: THR). “That’s understandable but after a while we have to question that, and this film is about telling the real story, which is the story of the survivors, not the story of the killer.”

Similar to Lars von Trier’s Dogville, the reconstruction of the attacks will not be realistic but done on a bare stage with chalk outlines indicating the buildings and structure of the island.

The filmmakers are working closely with the survivors’ support group in the making of the film and will have a trauma specialist on set at all times.

In addition to the reconstructions of the massacre itself, the filmmakers plan to shoot the interactions between the survivors and the young actors playing them. Javer says the final film will be as much about “the process of dealing with the trauma” of Utoya as about the massacre itself.

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.