خبر و متن – Massacre Of Teens In Norway Retold As A Feature Film

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

As the teenage survivors of last week’s high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., speak out and demand tighter gun control regulations, the young victims of the 2011 massacre in Norway still struggle to find their voices. A new movie called “U – July 22” premiered this week at the Berlin Film Festival. Esme Nicholson says the film tries to tell the story through a survivor’s experience.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: We’re getting the first full picture of the horrors. Authorities pieced together what happened…

ESME NICHOLSON, BYLINE: On July 22, 2011, after detonating a bomb in Oslo, a right-wing extremist disguised as a policeman turned up at a summer camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya and shot dead 69 people, most of whom were teenagers.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: It’s estimated there were around 600 taking part in the summer camp…

NICHOLSON: The gunman was a white supremacist who targeted the campus because they were junior members of the Norwegian Social Democrats and because of their liberal, multicultural values. At the time of the attacks and during the trial a year later, news coverage focused heavily on the shooter.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: He admitted to carrying out both attacks, calling them part of his plan for a cultural revolution.

NICHOLSON: Now, almost seven years later, a feature film reconstruction of that day attempts to shift the media’s focus away from the perpetrator and towards the victims. Andrea Berntzen is the film’s lead actress.

ANDREA BERNTZEN: Speaking to the survivors, I learned that they think we need this movie because now they won’t have to tell their story themselves. But they can say, OK. You can go and watch the movie. And then maybe we can speak after that.

NICHOLSON: Berntzen plays 19-year-old Kaja, who, when we first meet her at a camp, turns to the camera and declares, you will never understand. The film is shot in a single take and follows Kaja as she runs and hides from the relentless sound of screams and gunshots and as she comes across the bodies of fellow campers. This single take last 72 minutes, the exact amount of time that they were under attack.

ERIK POPPE: A lot of survivors expressed the time it took. Those 72 minutes – it felt like an eternity.

NICHOLSON: Director Erik Poppe.

POPPE: So I felt that I needed to see if I could be able to do it in one take to bring the audience into that sort of brutality without any chance for really leaving the story.

NICHOLSON: While based on survivors’ testimonies, Kaja’s character is purely fictional. Poppe did not want to favor one survivor’s story over another. Poppe acknowledges it makes for harrowing viewing.

POPPE: There were a lot of objections towards the film while we were preparing the film. And I do respect that some of the young people out there and the parents will have a hard time seeing this film.

NICHOLSON: Poppe held private screenings for the bereaved. And out of consideration for them, no footage – not even a trailer – is being released until the film premieres in Norway next month. Lisbeth Royneland chairs a national support group for victims of the attack.

LISBETH ROYNELAND: Many victims are told that they have to forget and go on with their lives. And this movie really shows why that is so hard.

NICHOLSON: Royneland lost her own 18-year-old daughter that day. She says that while some victims feel uneasy about the film, others see it as helpful.

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INGRID ENDRERUD: The reason for doing this is telling the story that, for so many people, has been impossible to tell.

NICHOLSON: Twenty-four-year-old survivor Ingrid Endrerud, who worked as an adviser on the film, addressed a press conference at the Berlin Film Festival.

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ENDRERUD: When I try to explain what I experienced, I’m only able to tell it from a distance. And that’s where the art of film can tell a story in another way that speaking cannot. And also, it’s to capture and to show what right-wing extremism can lead to. This is hate in its purest form. And as a society, we have to stand together against that.

NICHOLSON: While uncomfortably immersive, the film is not graphically violent. And the audience sees the attacker in the distance on just one fleeting occasion.

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NICHOLSON: When we finally hear the sound of a helicopter overhead, one of the campers declares it’s the press, not the police, a bitter reminder of how the media got to the scene before the rescue services.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #4: (Speaking Norwegian).

NICHOLSON: Director Erik Poppe.

POPPE: The media carries its own responsibility of how you are treating the survivors, of course, during an attack but also after an attack. What the film doesn’t deal with at all is what happens afterwards, when the media is standing on the landside, waiting for them, crazy to get their comments.

NICHOLSON: The film cuts to black as a local resident steers a boat full of injured teenagers to the mainland. Almost seven years on, the film tries to reclaim the story for the victims and reminds the audience that thoughts and prayers are more than just a tweet. For NPR News, I’m Esme Nicholson in Berlin.

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