Winter's longing
Regissør: Sturla Pilskog,Sidse Torstholm Larsen
(Danmark, Norge, Grønland)

INDEPENDENCE / The people of Greenland are dependent on the outside world, but they see hope for detachment based on their own natural resources and powerful investors.


I Winter's longing (Hope's Island in Danish) we follow three people in Greenland: young Kirsten in the fish factory, the therapist Gideon and the project coordinator Peter. We are introduced to the city of Maniitsoq, a small town with 3000 inhabitants on the west coast of Greenland suffering from economic downturn.

The directors Sturla Pilskog og Sit T. Larsen have a clear understanding of Greenland History and situation, but instead å tell they choose å dreams them to us through beautiful images that observe situations. The frugal dialogue has been chosen with great care. Here only what must be said, and nothing more.

The dream of becoming an independent nation still seems far away.

The West's lifestyle was appealed to Greenland's Inuit in the 1800th century through Christianity. The nomadic people were forced to take root. The areas around the mission centers were emptied of game and the business base disappeared. They became completely dependent on imports of goods and trade with Denmark, which led to an economic vulnerability and dependency that still seems impossible to disassociate from. We are not served this story in the film, but we do see the consequences of a traumatizing past.

Filling gives break

Kirsten works at the fish factory, and the camera follows her monotonous work in long sequences. Next to her is a tired elderly woman working the same movements, wearing the same work clothes. This is Kirsten and her future.

The youngsters listen to the radio and dream of attending an Eminem concert, but air tickets for 1200 euros are prohibitive. The dream remains just a dream for most people. Others pack the suitcase and go to Nuuk or Denmark.

Kirsten is about to become like his father, who drinks unconscious from time to time. Frustration has built up through many generations. Smoke breaks at work and trips out to the drill interrupt everyday life.

Winter's longing Director Sturla Pilskog and Sidse Torstholm Larsen
Winter's longing
Director Sturla Pilskog and Sidse Torstholm Larsen

Abuse of drugs and alcohol is widespread and leads to major disorders and societal problems. Alcohol-related problems are the biggest health challenge in the country and not only reduce life expectancy, but also disrupt family relationships for several generations.

Therapist Gideon himself has experienced many years of destructive alcoholism. Now he works with women and children who suffer from addiction, a well-known phenomenon among relatives of drug addicts. By observing Gideon's therapy lessons, we understand that Greenland itself is pacified on an equal footing with patients. The country is like an alcoholic's partner – one who is waiting for a change without being able to do anything himself. “We have inherited the challenges of our ancestors. A change may come, but we do not know when, ”says one elderly lady.

Rich natural resources

Greenland's economy has primarily been based on fishing and public subsidies from Denmark. After the cod fish disappeared, they concentrated on shrimp and halibut, but the economic dependence on Denmark is growing. The dream of becoming an independent nation still seems to be far away.

A small hope lies in Greenland's rich natural resources, and perhaps it may be the key to making the country financially independent. The problem is that it costs billions of dollars to extract these resources, money Greenland does not have, but there are other powerful nations who want to invest.

"If people are happy and hopeful about the future, then we have nothing more to fear."

In 2006, the population cheered; they had just heard the news that the US aluminum company ALCOA wanted to build a smelter and promised to invest $ 5,8 billion in new jobs. It should not only save the local community, it should also give Greenland an opportunity for complete independence. The company ALCOA chose Peter to be their coordinator, and his main task is to keep the local population informed.

Winter's longing
Director Sturla Pilskog and Sidse Torstholm Larsen

As time goes on, fear grows. "What if the aluminum factory never comes, what do we do?" ask the people. Peter sits in his office and feels clearly uncomfortable. Seven years have passed since ALCOA expectations employees him, and here he sits without really being able to say anything, without even knowing what is going on or is going to happen. He has only met representatives of the company twice during all these years, "there is a long time between each meeting and it can feel a little disappointing," he says.

A spirit of community

Therapist Gideon believes the ALCOA project has made people passive and anxious. "Whether it's an addiction to an authority you're waiting for answers from, or whether it's an addiction to alcohol and gambling – it's the same mechanisms that are going on." According to Gideon, the wait has made the locals passive, which has led to deeper frustration and self-pity.

When we see Gideon's good face and confidence, we understand that he has one of the most important roles in this community.

The young women in his therapy groups are crying and laughing. They do not wait for a change, they find the courage to make their own choices and discover their own value.

"My biggest dream for Greenland is to see the population regain a sense of themselves and with that a confidence," says Gideon. "Then a spirit of community can be awakened. If people are happy and hopeful about the future, then we have nothing more to fear. ”

Winter's longing appears on HUMAN International Documentary Film Festival.

Also read: The Book of The Sea – An unusual and endangered life, around the Yupik inputs

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