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DOK LEIPZIG 2020 DOK Industry

Lin Alluna • Director of Twice Colonized

"We believe a conversation across differences is essential for our evolution"

- We talked to Danish director Lin Alluna, whose project Twice Colonized won the inaugural Cineuropa Marketing Prize for the best project from CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator

Lin Alluna • Director of Twice Colonized
Lin Alluna (right) with Aaju Peter (left), the subject of her film (© Jonathan Wong)

The newly established Cineuropa Marketing Prize for the best project from CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator, given out at DOK Leipzig and intended to increase the visibility of the selected project in order to help complete it, went to Danish director Lin Alluna for her first feature-length documentary Twice Colonized [+see also:
film review
interview: Lin Alluna
interview: Lin Alluna
film profile
. Alluna tells us about the unique protagonist of her film, her work on the project, and about what her team needs to finish the film.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Cineuropa: What is your film Twice Colonized about?
Lin Alluna: It's really about empowerment and hope for a better future. More specifically, it's about a great hero of mine, the Greenlandic human rights activist Aaju Peter. Aaju was forced to move to Denmark as a child, where she lost her native culture and language. But Aaju reclaimed her Inuit traditions by relocating to Arctic Canada, and since then, her life has been a long fight for Indigenous people worldwide. 

Aaju's an incredible force of nature, and has taken on the difficult task of ensuring Indigenous people a seat in European policy, while channelling her traumas from being colonised (not only by Danes in Greenland, but also by Canadians in Nunavut) into writing an autobiography.

Twice Colonized follows Aaju's highly personal journey to bring her colonisers to justice on a global level and to consequently create a better future for her granddaughters.

(© David Bauer)

What is your approach to the filmmaking in Twice Colonized?
As a director, I’ve always been interested in making creative alliances with my main characters to explore the boundaries of reality. With Twice Colonized, we've been able to take this approach to the next level, co-developing and writing the film with Aaju Peter, who is an experienced storyteller. On top of that, Aaju's knowledge about her culture is second to none, so when we’re together, Aaju and I develop scenes and push each other creatively to find ways we can merge my method as a filmmaker with Aaju’s storytelling method, which has led us to incorporate magical realism with observational footage, being true to the reality Aaju herself experiences.

What made you want to make the film?
Well, I first met Aaju by coincidence about five years ago in Copenhagen, and I asked her out for a cup of coffee. She accepted, and it wasn't until then that I realised that she wasn't just anyone. Aaju is an activist, a lawyer, a recipient of the Order of Canada, a mother of five, a seal-skin designer, and the list goes on and on.

Meeting Aaju has been a life changing experience for me in terms of how I perceive my own country and culture. As a Dane, I am by default part of the colonising structures that Aaju has been fighting her whole life. But I was never raised to see my country as a coloniser. In school in Denmark, we heard about the vast, almost uninhabitable Greenland, and its people, whom Danish missionaries had 'discovered'. We were the "explorers and saviours".

(© David Bauer)

As an adult, I knew about the pressing issues in Greenland, but when I met Aaju and she told me her story, it became very clear that I needed to adjust the idea of my country's history. 

Our goal is for Twice Colonized to contribute to change, in respect of cultural and human diversity, by bringing a new and different story to the cinema, as Aaju generously allows us unlimited access to her life with this crucial story from an underrepresented community.

Who have been some of your important partners in the making of Twice Colonized?
I have been very lucky to find a strong Inuit producer team, making Twice Colonized the first formal co-production between the Inuit on both sides of the Canadian/Greenlandic border. Emile Hertling Péronard (Ánorâk Film, Nuuk & Copenhagen) is a Greenlandic Inuk, based in Copenhagen and working to build bridges between the Arctic and the rest of the world through filmmaking. Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Red Marrow Media, Iqaluit) is an award-winning filmmaker and activist who has worked with Aaju before, and who lives in the same city as Aaju, making it a very rewarding co-production team, especially in COVID-times. EyeSteelFilm with Bob Moore in Montreal have been additional co-production partners since 2019, and they have worked hard to secure the Canadian part of the financing.

Aaju’s tireless efforts for Indigenous practices together with her determination to reach empowerment through legal justice, decolonisation and healing, makes her a role model to the whole team behind this film. We believe a conversation across differences is not only interesting, but essential for our evolution.

What do you need to complete the film, and when do you expect it to be ready?
We have been fortunate to find backing from the Danish Film Institute, CBC, DR, the Government of Greenland and Eurimages among many others, but we still have a financing gap of around €75,000 to complete the budget. Since the lockdown, it's been more difficult to shoot, but we have begun working with our existing footage in the editing room, and it’s actually made it more clear what we need to shoot to have the film ready for release in early 2022, so we're confident of the road we’re on.

(© Angela Gzowski)
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