“Au Groenland, nous ne faisons que commencer”
Dossier industrie: Produire - Coproduire...
Emile Hertling Péronard • Productrice, Ánorâk Film
par Marta Bałaga
La représentante danoise à Producers on the Move, à laquelle on doit le documentaire Twice Colonized, nous parle de ses projets, et nous confie ses rêves
Cet article est disponible en anglais.
Co-owner, with Inuk Silis Høegh, of Ánorâk Film, Emile Hertling Péronard is behind documentaries Twice Colonized [+lire aussi :
interview : Lin Alluna
interview : Lin Alluna
fiche film] and Music for Black Pigeons [+lire aussi :
interview : Jørgen Leth et Andreas Koe…
fiche film], with Homo Sapienne, Walls and Isabella Eklöf’s Kalak [+lire aussi :
interview : Isabella Eklöf
fiche film] all looming on the horizon. But as he is venturing out, he also remembers about his home, having launched Greenland’s first production service company Polarama Greenland. Hertling Péronard has been selected in the European Film Promotion’s Producers on the Move programme.
Cineuropa: The last time we spoke, Music for Black Pigeons was about to premiere in Venice. Where does this affection for documentaries, and ones that are a bit different, come from?
Emile Hertling Péronard: I am attracted to all great stories. But what I love about documentaries is their unpredictability. You can start somewhere and at the end, you are at a completely different place. At the beginning of my career that was the biggest challenge: leaving ideas behind, accepting that the project went in some unforeseen direction. Now, I know that’s the beauty of it.
That film was a prime example of that. We worked on it for 8 years, tried all these different roads, shot all this footage. Today, when I meet people who saw it, they say: “We loved it. It’s so weird and it has no structure.” [laughter] You can succeed with films that break the rules.
The Producers on the Move initiative keeps you very busy these days. Why did you want to do it?
I think it’s a great opportunity to make people aware of my work and to stand out more. Not just internationally but even here, in Denmark. Many years ago, I would hear about these “producers on the move,” thinking it was completely unachievable. I am proud, and surprised, to be a part of it now.
I grew up in Greenland and I have been working from here for most of my career, trying to make Greenlandic films in a very difficult production environment. There was no funding and no recognition. Due to this colonial and postcolonial relationship between Denmark and Greenland, it has been tricky – Greenlandic filmmakers can’t apply for funding through the Danish Film Institute. There is a structural problem that has prevented us from telling our stories, whereas Danish filmmakers could easily get support to come to Greenland and make their films here. I have been in this game for maybe 12, 13 years and only now, through a lot of hard work, we are starting to sense a curiosity for hearing our side of the story. For Denmark to select me for this initiative is a testament to that too.
What are your hopes for these films? I am interested in concrete plans, but also in dreams.
We finally have a voice. When something isn’t right, you can say it. It has been 26 years since Smilla’s Sense of Snow came out, directed by Bille August. At that time, nobody said it was problematic that British actress Julia Ormond played the main role. In Greenland, we talked about it a lot. Now, we are developing a TV series based on the same book and an Inuit woman will finally play Smilla.
Things have changed and I am grateful for that. We are at more festivals, we are getting more training and making more films, so I hope it will empower other filmmakers from Greenland and other Indigenous communities to break into the mainstream.
“Mainstream” is an important word here, because you want to go beyond the festival circuit.
When I talk about it, it’s not about us having to make big commercial films. We just have to go beyond the point where they are so few and far between that you feel you are not allowed to fail. It’s not just about our right to make more films — it’s about the right to make bad films without feeling you won’t get another shot.
We still hit a few walls, like when TV stations or institutions say: “We already had our Indigenous film this year.” But we are just getting started. I hope the work we are doing will result in more financing institutions like the Arctic Indigenous Film Fund, which was put in place to support projects across these colonial borders and help us make our own decisions.
Are these new possibilities what excites you these days?
I am excited about the Fund and excited about collaborations between Indigenous people. There is the first ever Indigenous Co-Production Forum in Cannes this year, on May 18. I will be doing a panel there too and there will be a lot of talk about how to work around these systems that were imposed on Indigenous people.
On a more personal level, I am also developing my first fiction feature, trying to figure out how to make scripted content but still keep it close to this “documentary style” — to control reality a bit more but keep things flexible and authentic. I also showed my first prototype VR project [Tartupaluk] at Berlinale’s Forum Expanded. For Indigenous people, moving into new media is such an incredible opportunity to be on more equal terms with the non-Indigenous film community. Thanks to that technology, we can suddenly imagine a completely new world, pre-colonialism or set in the future, where our nations have finally become independent.
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