This article is available in the December issue of Cinema Scandinavia. In this magazine, we focus on contemporary concepts of ‘identity’ in film, television, and documentary.
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A Short Film Selection from Nordisk Panorama 2017
We’ve seen many interesting and well-crafted short films at this year’s Nordisk Panorama film festival, but we’d only like to highlight three of them. All three, that is Denmark’s Walk with Me, Norway’s Neverland, and Sweden’s I Will Always Love You, Conny, depict a kind of identity crisis and reflect on various social issues that ought to be addressed in society.
Anita Beikpour’s Walk with Me is a farewell to her Iranian grandfather, who arrived in Denmark after the Iranian Revolution (1978–1979), and later committed suicide. Through her journey, she dresses up like her grandfather and tries to find an answer, tries to say goodbye to him. A special atmosphere is created in the non-fictional short film as a result of the combination of lyrical and to the point of sequences – perfectly blended with the soft narrating voice. The ubiquitous personal touch brings the viewers closer to the story, and encourages them to really think about those questions on identity, home, migration emerging in the film. Beikpour’s motion picture is a gripping story of a lost connection between granddaughter and grandfather, and a continuous quest for self-determination and self-definition.
Håvard Fandrem’s Neverland (Aldriland in Norwegian) tells the story of a 15-year-old boy named Markus who has feelings no one should have, and shows the moments when he painfully realises that he is a paedophile. According to the film-maker, the issue of young paedophiles are barely discussed in society, even though it is something that should be part of the public discourse. In the 19-minute-long fictional short film, the climax of the plot only happens at the very end, in the 18th minute. The director builds up his plot step by step, so even if the viewers kind of know what it’s all about, they only get to know Markus’ main decision at the end of the film. And they are left there without any solution offered. But there is always a place one can go… and that is home.
Amanda Kernell’s I Will Always Love You, Conny (Swedish title: I Will Always Love You, Kingen) gives a glimpse of a 20-year-old guy’s life, who gets confused when his girlfriend is about to give birth to their child. He embarks on a journey of self-destruction to find himself and build up his character again. Despite all the bleak atmosphere and icy images, Kernell masterfully balances between dramatic and comedic elements; because even if life is full of struggles and confusion, there is always space for jokes and funny moments. Hence, the director manages to catch the audience members’ attention and don’t let them move until the credit is over. The greatest strength of the film is probably the fact that it is not a didactical tale of how to be a great person. It is rather a film of pointing out issues and asking questions.
All three short films, regardless of their style, length and country of origin, touch upon universal issues that are indeed should be addressed in society – even in families. All three film-makers dare to ask questions other might want to avoid, and, in a way, persuade their viewers not to be afraid of being exposed to their emotions. In order for humans to live their life to the fullest, there is no time for playing hide and seek with themselves. The more know they know about themselves, the more they can learn about the world.
Featured photo: Walk with Me