Current Affairs One World opener Bravehearts maps year in life of Norwegian students shaken by Breivik attacks
Bravehearts, which opened the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague on Monday night, follows politically engaged Norwegian students preparing for student elections. However, midway through filming Norway suffered a terrible tragedy, when Anders Behring Breivik shot dead 69 people at a Labour Party youth camp after setting off a bomb in Oslo. One of the film’s protagonists was there.
“The film started out with us following four main characters: Haakon from the Conservatives; Henrik from the Progress, or right-wing, party; Sana from the Socialist League; and Johanne from the Labour Party.
“We followed them for a year. But on 22 July 2011, as you know, terror struck Norway. A bomb went off in the centre of Oslo and there was a massacre on the island of Utoya. And Johanne was on the island.
“It was a big tragedy that marked all of the four characters. But we continued to make the same film and to film every day towards the election.”
Was it the case that the director [Kar Anne Moe] was on Utoya the day before the massacre?
“She came two days before with Johanne and stayed there until the 22nd, the very day, until two o’clock, together with a camera team and the sound person.
“They decided to leave the island at two o’clock because they had spent two days with Johanne. And now Sana was waiting in Oslo and she was going to her summer camp – and they wanted to follow her.
“They went into the centre and they were standing in the middle of the centre when the bomb exploded. And then after that the massacre started, as we know.”
One of the most powerful moments in the film is when this girl Johanne tells about what happened and her terrible experience – seeing people killed, and so on. How long was it after the massacre that she was able to speak about it like that?
“When she tells her story it’s two days after the 22nd. That was a Friday and this was on the Monday. We wanted to be fresh. We thought it was important for the film.
“But it was tough for her to tell that story at that point. I think she has very mixed feelings about the decision to say yes to that interview.
“On one hand, it was very hard. On the other, she can also see that it could maybe help other people who see the film and have been in the same situation.”
What kind of reaction has the film had at screenings in Norway?
“The film has been screened as a cinema release in Norway – and also in Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. In Norway we screened it for about 30,000 people and I would say that about 25,000 of them were young people.
“We’ve been to a lot these screenings and we’ve been really, really moved, because a lot of these 16- and 17-year-olds come up to us afterwards and say, wow, I didn’t know that I could be one of those who are engaged politically. Or I always wanted to be engaged, but now I’m really going to do it.
“I feel that it has really inspired young people – that it really is possible to make a change. That has been the most emotional thing.
“The overall feedback from the critics has been very good. I think they feel that it is a film that has been made with respect and hasn’t tried to jump on the tragedy.”