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Regissør: Camilla Strøm Henriksen

With an increasing number of feature films based on the filmmaker's own experiences, the documentary may appear to have gained an activist competitor. Phoenix is ​​about children and neglect of care.


When parents fail, children are forced to become small adults. Movie director Camilla Strøm Henriksen bravely draws from her own painful experiences to highlight this important and difficult theme in her debut film phoenix. With her on the team, she not only has exceptionally engaged and sparkling actors, but also a clear commitment behind the camera and at the manufacturer and distributor with flair.


The autobiographical has long had success in both Norwegian literature and film. The audience engages. From a tram on the way past Solli Square, I witnessed an endless queue, several blocks long, towards the National Library. The huge turnout was due to neither a rock star nor another foreign celebrity, but the two writing, self-releasing sisters Hjorth.

Is the feature film about to take over activism?

Movies based on their own lives also have broad audience appeal: Hva vil folk si by Iram Haq is not only just an Oscar nominee and a solid cash success, but also an important influencing factor to prevent the forced marriage of immigrant girls and boys. phoenix will the failure of care and society's failure to deal with this to life. Is the feature film about to take over activism? Does the documentary have to share its formerly dominant domain?

gender Aspect

Henriksen wants to reach out and open the eyes of the audience. Her family and upbringing were hurt by no one saw. That phoenix is grounded in the autobiographical, strengthens the relationship with the viewers and probably also provides marketing marketing. At the same time, there is a delicate boundary between the personal and the private. Extradition is challenging. The story is quickly perceived as too "small", or claustrophobic. The experience of the work is also colored by the gender of the narrator. Where Knausgård can confidently report from the kitchen counter and transform everyday trivialities and drama into bookish bautas, there is a greater resistance to the intimate female storytelling from the home's often dramatic interior. Considering that the vast majority of actors in Norwegian feature films have been men, both in front and behind the camera, it is all but surprising that it took twelve (!) Years from Henriksen to get his idea until her film was fully financed and completed. 

Moments that hit

The director has had plenty of time to "knead" his story. She is very conscious of what she shares and what she screens. A ruined childhood is pushed down to a five-day drama, about what happens when the adults are unable to take their parental responsibility. Two contrasting, yet both inhospitable universes surround the children: their mother's dark, trapped '70s textile artist bohemia against his father's impersonal, white hotel surroundings. None of them represent the safe haven the children need and long for. Something dark in the shadows. In the light there is only emptiness. It is the images that create the momentum in the story, while the unspoken in the dialogue cuts the way for the fatal. Yet it is in the small, ugly and honest moments that Henriksen's drama touches most. Perhaps simply because the larger lines of history are too heavy to take in their brutality.

Simple grip, strong effect

phoenix rests on young Jill, played by Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin. The dangerous feelings that run over her face and which she must master. She and her brother Bo (Casper Falck-Løvås) crawl close together in the old worn couch in the mother's living room. The talking eyes are directed at her mother (Maria Bonnevie), where she gears up and wants to create new art before a job interview. The vigilance of Jill's listening as the unknowable thing she fears most approaches. Her sharpness when she wants to get rid of someone, and the ruthless actions when she wants to protect Bo. Most of all, Jill is alone, with so much to bear. Still, she is dealing with the elegance of a movie star and with a strong presence in her own body and emotions.  

The subdued expression gives the actors room to really mild their roles, with sparkling achievements.

The director wears the protagonist wearing a body-close old pink sequin dress while she is on the wagon with her father. This simple approach with the introduction of a little slender glamor provides a much needed respite for the spectator in a miserable story where there is no hope. Dad's catchy concert scene as well. The children want to believe in something better, before reality and the father's true nature catch up with the children again. It's not just the parents who fail: The gracious neighbor can't even repair a broken bicycle, and the family friend is neither able to care nor take any of what is going on. Just about Jill and Bo, all the adults seem inept. 

Mage Park

The director stands firmly in his own story and tells it in a simple and honest way. The subdued expression gives the actors room to really mild their roles, with sparkling achievements. All are picked from the top shelf and shape their characters almost desirably and without holding anything back. Bonnevie is dazzlingly uncomfortable as the two siblings' mother, where her intense instability is accompanied by something ominous that only fourteen-year-old Jill senses. The daughter's otherwise accustomed power is paralyzed in the attempt to keep the dangerous truth away: She is caught in her own lies about her mother's condition. 

Jill cherishes as well as she can for her little family, while the longing for her father – and for him to come to her and her brother's rescue – keeps her going. We are not far into the film until it becomes clear that he is not of such a cast. The mother's destructive darkness and her father's slippery vigil are well-placed extremes that both hit the diaphragm. Jill and Bo spin around, with no other clues than each other. And when the mother finally rises from her apathetic bed rest, everything just gets worse. The mother's reply when she wants out without the children basically says everything: "I have nothing that is mine." "You've got us!" "There is not enough."

Phoenix premieres at Norwegian cinemas on October 12.

Ellen Lande
Ellen Lande
Lande is a film writer and director and a regular writer for Ny Tid.

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