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BERLINALE 2011 Panorama

Giæver scales Mountain of sorrow


Giæver scales Mountain of sorrow

Two years after the screening of Rune Denstad Langlo's North [+see also:
film review
interview: Rune Denstad Langlo
film profile
, the Panorama sidebar of the Berlinale yesterday unveiled Ole Giæver’s The Mountain, another Norwegian feature debut that uses the country’s dramatic snowy cliffs as the backdrop to an inner and physical journey for the main protagonist(s).

The Mountain features a lesbian couple who try to cope with the loss of their five-year-old son by scaling the same mountain where the little boy lost his life two years earlier. Over seven nights and seven days, the women’s emotions are put to test.

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The boy’s biological mother Solveig (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), now expecting another child, initiated the trip, hoping that it will help her and her girlfriend Nora (Marte Magnusdotter Solem) find inner peace and create new foundations for their future life together. Nora’s way of dealing with her grief is to distance herself from Solveig and the memories of their son. As the days go by and they get closer to their final destination, the women experience a wide range of emotions, from reproach, anger and rejection to sorrow, tenderness and finally reconciliation.

The two actresses give convincing although not outstanding performances, and for a feature debut, Giæver finds the right pace to build his drama, supported by cinematographer Øystein Mamen, editor Wibecke Rønseth and music composer Ola Fløttum, who worked on his short film Summer Past (nominated for an Amanda Award Best Screenplay in 2008).

The director keeps the audience’s interest despite the minimalism of the plot and setting and, interestingly, for a male director, displays a remarkably strong sensibility towards the subject matter. But as he explained at the press conference, the fact that two women are central characters was not the most important but the couple that they form and the difficult moment that they undergo. “I chose to write about a lesbian couple just to make the story more interesting,” said the director.

Unable to find public money for his feature debut, Giæver developed the script with these financial restrictions in mind. “It had to be as basic as possible, with few characters and one external location for free lighting”. The Mountain was produced by Giæver’s Ferdinand Films in co-production with 4½ Production. Sales are handled by Bavaria Film International.

The Mountain comes out in Norway on February 25, courtesy of Euforia Film.

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