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The trauma story

Generation Utøya
Regissør: Aslaug Holm Sigve Endresen
(Norge, 2021)

JULY 22ND / Utøya as a hotbed for budding party affiliation: This generation still cannot be gagged.


This review has taken time. Why? Because Generation Utøya can seem simple and reliable jovial in its design language. It clearly states its position in a political context – a type of superstructure loaded with a burning message. At the same time, the film works and touches on a deeper level – as it allows for empathy and empathy. The impression that remains is its warm depiction of Utoya as a hotbed for budding party affiliation, a youthful meeting place, and that political involvement can have a high price – where the terrorist arrived on the island as a "uniformed policeman".

We share the experience of four female AUFers for better or worse.

Here, Utøya and the survivors are something far more than a crime scene with their victims on 22 July. For example, we get to share the experience with four women AUF-ere for better or worse – via close portraits where they return to the island despite their trauma. Then something unexpected happens: The survivors welcome the next generation of possible politically active. The idealistic AUF leader Ina Libak gives a glowing speech for a crowded slope .; Renate Tårnes sings and plays guitar. In this meeting, we see not only caretakers and leaders, but also that time has passed. A close reading of several films about July 22 has never made this as clear as here – that this group is first and foremost adventurous youth, and not politicians in particular.

(Photo: Holm and Endresen)

Directors Aslaug Holm and Sigve Endresen convey the maturation process to the generation that was on Utøya on July 22 – and their way forward in society. For example, we follow the charming and talented career politician Kamzy Gunaratnams election vigil as she is running as deputy mayoral candidate in Oslo. And we see the said Libak's way into and out of leadership in AUF.

Today's political climate

On the other hand, the documentary takes the time to show the current political climate via news footage: Young protesters are being teared to death by uniformed officials. No, these are not foreign recordings from the suburbs, but in front of the Storting – Norway of today. This is part of the reality they stand in, survivors of the Utøya massacre who are still politically active ten years later.

The documentary shows that this generation still can not be gagged. Nor does the AUF generation after: They gather in front Parliament, where they test the scope of their democratic right to free speech and protest. But many are also involved because they want to be where their friends are and where it happens. How the directors here make a parallel in this clip to the main story about the Utøya attack, becomes obvious. Both in front of the Storting and on Utøya, the young people were unarmed – and the violence they face is perpetrated by uniformed people.

The documentary shows how it is retraumatizing for the surviving AUFs to remain politically active. Of the film's main characters it is Line Hoem who struggle most with the processing. As the heart rate increases, the trauma is triggered. This former dance-loving young girl no longer dares to engage in physical activities. Her entire previous identity has been robbed of her. The film allows us to be close while she struggles on, mouse step by mouse step. At the premiere, she replied that the road back is still long. The documentary takes a step further here, cross-cutting between sharp formulations by Sylvi Listhaug and hate messages and threats.

The documentary also cuts in effectively Arendalsuk from today. Libak's fear of whether she wants police protection there arouses indignation. Why should she experience this as selfish after having been shot at in the past?

The documentary dares to take clear positions on more inflammatory issues. The directors are calling for a clear settlement right extremismn after July 22. Let us reproduce Aslaug Holm's summary: “When we started filming, we had had plenty of time to reflect. We experienced that there were a good number of issues that were not addressed, both in terms of the relationship to the right-wing extremists and the processing. It became important to arouse debate, to highlight what it is about politically. "

The layered and the complex

Holm and Endresen followed their grades for three years. Perhaps the film's ability to touch lies in this very choice to give the survivors time. The directors first came as fellow human beings – without a camera – and built trust and relationships: They did not just bust in and start filming. It is the close relationship they achieved to the characters, which makes me care – also that we as the audience manage to get to know the film's main characters better before the trauma is introduced.

Both in front of the Storting and on Utøya, the young people were unarmed – and the violence they face is perpetrated by uniformed people.

In a way, the different main roles merge into a common character with different characteristics and functions. Holm and Endresen have a total of 65 years of documentary experience. They want to embrace a lot within the theme. The layered and the complex means that the film experience needs time and reflection. Nevertheless, the documentary could have focused more and gone further in its problematization.

Overall, the documentary forms a portrait of the Utøya generation. But at the same time, it is also a portrait of society, an account of both a process of maturation and change that has taken place – or should have taken place.



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

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