The Burden (2017)

By Mónica Delgado

One of the best things about Nordisk Panorama Film Festival is that it gives access to works from Nordic and Scandinavian countries, especially from places like Iceland, whose visibility in film spaces is scarce. For this 2017, their selection of short films picks up works that have previously received some recognition in other international film festivals, also giving some space to young new directors, which are motivated to work in collaboration.

Axel Danielson and Maximilien van Aertyck’s Because the World Never Stops, is set in the behind-the-camera world of a newscast seen as a micro cosmos, where some place for social critique with few resources is given. This short film by Danielson and Van Aertyck builds itself from the spaces between the news, from those moments of relaxation and preparation of the newscasters, things that the spectator doesn’t see while the news are on screen. The interesting thing about this work is the predominance of an constant out of field, which allows the spectator to imagine the world in its reality from the news presented about refugees and civil wars. Then, a note to a hockey player which lasts only minutes evidences the formula that these news spaces repeat constantly, without posing an adjustment to the interest of the audience in this 21st century. And the end of Because the World Never Stops appeals to a different plane of the television world, the work space, that isn’t alien to the methods of productions that segregate and alienate.

In an opposite pole (from a technical view) Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s animation short The Burden (Min börda) proposes a reading of the work environment and its compartments from the recreation of an animal ghetto which is anthropomorphized, living in a sort of planet or floating island that dwells in a cosmic nothing. Succesfully presented in Cannes Quinzaine de Realizateurs, The Burden is a remarkable experience, especially because it constitutes a sublime atmosphere about work burden, its mechanization and the impression of night shift loneliness all made from stop-motion. Fishes, mice, monkeys and other fauna are workers in supermarkets, fast food restaurants, hotels and call centers, creatures which sing about their quotidian battles with a sweet and sour humor.

Hannes Vartiainen y Pekka Veikkolainen’s Taking the Floor is, in exchange, a Finnish documentary on a political debate on the construction of a new rail system for a commune. The filmmakers explore the subject with touches of humor, and from a particular editing work, show diverse discourses on the interventions by politicians, who express their positions towards this possible train. With pro and con arguments, in many cases cliché, they unveil not only the ups and downs of a democratic system that seeks to find solutions through dialogue, but also elaborate a typology of arguments, egos and profiles of the political environment.

Magnús Ingvar Bjarnason y Eyþór Jóvinsson’s Icelandic Reflection is an exercise in horror genre. The filmmakers propose a tale of temporal games, having a faraway house in the ice desert as scenario. The arrival of two brothers-in-law to this old rural house, a house inherited by a dead grandfather, is the meeting point where they find a small treasure, a basement full of beer. The inebriation produces a state of light sleep that is used by the filmmakers to introduce the supernatural quota. If there’s some kind of redundancy in the way the “turn of the screw” is presented, the work allows us to measure the effort of searching different possibilities of genre in this isolated scenario in Iceland.

In Julie Engaas’s Norwegian In a Few Years Everything Will be Different the intention of collage and film diary is primal. Through the fragmentation, the filmmaker slowly builds a promise, or the possibility of achieving a desire against her fear of losing some aspects of her environment. Climate change, the destruction of nature, the loss of some human virtues, are revealed from a first person voice, in a montage that is part footage part animation. Engaas reveals the necessity of building a world before the loss of paradise, trapped in nostalgia and the creation of a new environment far away from industrialization.

Because the World Never Stops
Directors: Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck
Producers: Plattform Produktion, Axel Danielson & Maximilien Van Aertryck
Sweden, 2016, 11 min

The Burden
Director: Niki Lindroth von Bahr
Producers: Malade, Kalle Wettre
Sweden, 2017, 15 min

Taking The Floor
Directors: Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Producers: Pohjankonna Oy, Pekka Veikkolainen, Hannes Vartiainen
Finland, 2017, 9 min

Director: Magnús Ingvar Bjarnason, Eyþór Jóvinsson
Producers: Icelandic Film School, Magnús Ingvar Bjarnason
Iceland, 2016, 11 min

In a Few Years Everything Will be Different
Director: Julie Engaas
Producers: True Fiction AS, Cecilie Bjørnaraa
Norway, 2017, 12 min