TROMSØ. Northern Norwegian film has made a lively start to 2017. After a couple of great premieres since the turn of the year it is now cinema time for one that´ll probably cause a lot of stir. Tromsø film maker Anniken Hoel´s Dødsårsak: Ukjent/ Cause of Death: Unknown is a documentary about schizophrenia, the health care system, the pharmaceutical industry and the death of a beloved sister.
Anniken Hoel´s older sister Renate fought a mental disorder for years and was treated with increased medication of antipsychotics. She died suddenly in 2005 at the age of 34 but there seemed to be no obvious cause. Suicide had been ruled out and the only explanation the family got from the authorities was that the cause of Renate´s death was unknown.
Anniken could not settle for that, and started to investigate why her sister, shortly before her death, was on four different drugs. The research was a bit like opening Pandora´s box. She came to learn that Renate wasn´t the only patient to die under such circumstances at the same hospital. And not only that, she found similar fates in other parts of Norway, as well as abroad.
She dug in deep to learn more about antipsychotics and about the way the pharmaceutical industry works. Among her findings were that one of the pills the sister was on had cardiac arrhythmia as a side effect, which made her suspect that Renate´s death was connected to the use of the antipsychotics.
– I was beginning to wonder why a medicine that had death as a possible side effect could be authorized, and also what kind of science could form the bases for that, Anniken Hoel said recently in an interview with Sykepleien.no.
Cause of Death: Unknown is a personal documentary that took her eleven years to finish. Some dreamlike clips are made with a Super-8 camera where Renate´s daughter is acting as her mother.
Now the film will premiere in Norway´s cinema theatres, and the plan is to arrange discussions on the subject in connection to the viewings. The thought is also to get the film distributed to all western countries. Cause of Death has earlier been viewed at a couple of festivals.
Anniken Hoel (born 1980) is from Tromsø but now lives in Berlin. She studied film in Denmark and Prague. This is her third motion picture.
Another successful movie connected to northern Norway in 2017 is Ishavsblod (Sealers) by Gry Elisabeth Mortensen and Trude Berge Ottesen from Tromsø. This controversial documentary tells the story of the last bunch of seal hunters on the Arctic Ocean. The movie won the Audience Award (Publikumpris) at Tromsøs International Film Festival in January and now there will be a special premiere in Oslo.
Elsewhere, Karenina & I by Gørild Mauseth and Tommaso Mottola from Kjøllefjord, Finnmark county, premiered in February as did the family film Trio – Jakten på Olavsskrinet which was partly shot in Svolvær, Nordland.
The regional Filmfond Nord that promotes audiovisual production could boast of three world premieres at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Fra Balkongen by Ole Giæver from Tromsø, Oskars Amerika by Sortland film maker Torfinn Iversen and Lyse Netter by Thomas Arslan, a German movie shot on location in the county of Troms.
Furthermore Sami Blood, the highly successful motion picture by Swedish Amanda Kernell was co-produced by DigiPilot and Jim Hansen from Mosjøen, county Nordland