Wednesday, 26 January 2011

imagining emanuel

on monday evening i had the chance to view the premiere of a brand new norwegian documentary at the oslo cinematek. it will be screened on tv tonight, wednesday 26.01.2011, on nrk 2. the topic of the film stands at the center of norwegian attention right now, so the production team worked day and night for a week to finish it as early as they possibly could. focal point of the film is emanuel, an illegal immigrant living without papers in norway, just like my friend maria amelie who got deported to russia on monday. his fate is just as unclear as hers. while their personal lives and histories are as different as could possibly be, they both stand up, with friends and helpers, to shine a light upon an injustice and wrongdoing by norwegian authorities and government against some of the weakest members of norwegian society.

emanuel comes from liberia, says he. he is a young man, who fled from war in his home country to ghana as a child. after his mother died he somehow managed to get onboard a ship and ended up in norway, without passport, birth certificate or anything else. authorities decide that he does not come from liberia but from ghana, imprison him in the refugee camp in trandum and attempt twice to send him there. authorities there don't agree and since then he has lived his life in norway without a chance to earn his own money or even visit a school to learn how to read or write. he would like to return to his country of origin, but since authorities are apparently unwilling to contact liberian authorities to check if what he says is correct, there is no chance that his wish will come true anytime soon. he, like maria, falls between every possible available chair.

one could say that "imagining emanuel" has two focal points. emanuel is clearly the core subject of the film, but at the same time director thomas østbye is occupied with the process of imagining, the making of a picture, the process of how a persons identity and a persons story is built by what we know, what we see and hear. does the lack of identification mean that emanuel does not have an identity? what do we know about him when we see him standing in the studio, when the camera traces his head in a close up? this documentary reflects about its own genre, it doesn't take any point of view for a universal truth and at the same time fights for the human right to nationality and identity that its subject is being denied. it gives the audience time to reflect. it celebrates the close-up as a possibility to connect and to disturb.

1 comment:

C. N. Nevets said...

I found your blog through Andrea's, and love your posts. There's a lot of think about, and the film sounds like something that should be seen.