GREENLAND EYES IFF
‐ Q&A WITH DIRECTOR AND FILM FESTIVAL COORDINATOR IVALO FRANK
Born in Greenland to Danish parents in 1975, Ivalo Frank is an Artist, Film Director and Film Festival Coordinator based in Berlin. She holds a BA in Philosophy from Copenhagen University and a MA in Social Anthropology from Lund University, specializing in the logic of art. She has made documentary films in various countries including Bosnia, China and Greenland. The content of her films range from post‐war portraits to post‐colonial perspectives and in‐depth interviews with citizens from the former DDR. Ivalo Frank is the director of (amongst others) "Upper Reaches of the Arts", an introduction to Shanghais’ art galleries and cultural institutions and "Wild Dogs of Sarajevo“ a film highlighting war‐tourism and the survivors of the longest occupation of any capital in history. Her latest film "ECHOES" (2010) premiered at Copenhagen Contemporary and is a musical journey portraying the personal stories that the American presence in Greenland, has left behind. THE FESTIVAL
Ivalo, thank you for taking your time to do this and reaching out to talk about GREENLAND EYES INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. *** Let’s go straight for the background info – when and where was the idea born and who’s in the organization behind? The idea was born at the premiere of ECHOES at the Humboldt University in November 2010. Lill‐Ann Körber had contacted me just after I finished making “Faith, Hope and Greenland (2009)” and she wanted
to pursue it for the Humboldt University library. When I was then making ECHOES (2010) we agreed to do the German premiere at the University. It is a beautiful old university and I loved having the first screening of ECHOES there. After the Q&A, we just sort of very impulsively decided to do a Greenland Film Festival together. Additionally, The Nordic Institute at the Humboldt University (Das Nordeuropa‐Institut) offers every other week courses in – Greenland in Film. The Institute (estbl. 1994) has an impressive number of full‐time and visiting researchers, engaging in all kinds of Northern studies & programs. Among historians, literary man & women, political scientists, etc. etc. Dr. Lill‐Ann Körber (Greenland Eyes IFF coordinator) works in the field of ‘post‐colonial Greenland studies’. It’s a good course, you know, it manages to stay open minded, spanning from the first Greenlandic literary work of Mathias Storch (Sinnattugaq 1914), to critical reviews of modern Greenlandic artworks; film included. The focus is indeed on Greenland. An open focus, which makes it interesting and vital. *** The festival is scheduled for April 24th to 30th 2012, at the Arsenal Cinema in Berlin. Actually at the Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V. Any particular reason for choosing this venue? Yes, Arsenal was and is THE/OUR favorite cinema in Berlin. They have a really nice mixture of art related events, cinema, talks and the level is generally very high and serious. I really respect them as an institution and think they do a marvelous job in promoting art cinema and more niche stuff. Apart from that they also co‐host the Berlinale, so it’s a kind of institution which very much operates on several levels ‐ and I really like that. You’ll find Arsenal at Potsdamer Straße 2. It’s situated close to the German Film and TV Academy, Berliner Philharmonie etc. Getting there is easy by using the U‐Bahn / S‐Bahn directed to Potsdamer Platz. Alternatively, use the Bus Service M41, M48, M85, 200, 347. More info on Arsenal ‐ http://www.arsenal‐berlin.de The festival program will be online w/directions as well. *** Any particularly important stuff to remember when going to Berlin for a film festival? An open mind. People can look forward to some insightful days. 6 days with film + Q&A’s, workshop and cultural events. Starting with some examples from the German‐Greenlandic film history (yes, there is one) like Eskimo Baby (1917), starring Asta Nielsen, and SOS Iceberg (1932), starring Leni Riefenstahl, the festival keeps focus on the emerging Greenlandic film production. The program will keep substantial space for Q&A’s in regards of selected screenings. So, yes, it’s both for film enthusiasts and for the experts. We hope for a lot of opportunity to let people meet in the heat of the language of the cinema. Being a festival about Greenlandic films, having an open mind in regards of discussing Greenland as a country as well, we want to accentuate the different genres and narrative levels in Greenland today. A workshop supplementing the Greenland Eyes International Film Festival will take place at Nordeuropa Institut, Humboldt‐Universität zu Berlin, April 27. When looking at filmic representations of Greenland since the beginning of the 20th century, it is the proportional relation between films ABOUT and FROM Greenland that seems to be one of the most striking features: While the spectacular Greenlandic landscape and its often exoticized inhabitants have triggered the imagination of mostly European filmmakers and the
audience abroad for a long time, the domestic film scene is a very young but enormously productive one, powerfully taking over the privilege of interpretation. *** And what’s in it for the filmmakers coming all the way from Greenland? Do you see GREENLAND EYES IFF as a PR opportunity for let’s say the European market? To answer both questions at once, a lot. PR wise it has already started in regards of our organization getting the journalists hooked up and the internet + social media up and running. As any other meshwork of artistry, the public, the scholars and the practitioners, Greenland Eyes IFF offers a networking opportunity. In that sense, PR & opportunities goes both ways for Greenland and on August 24th we announced the cooperation with the Danish Embassy here in Berlin. This is important to us since Denmark’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. (More updates available at www.facebook.com/greenlandeyes ). Apart from all that, we hope that this festival addresses the issue of critique & quality as any other festival does. Of course in an artistic sense. We want to give the young productive scene an opportunity to engage in a dialogue. A qualified dialogue indeed, in a way where it’s respectful for all sides involved. A critical debate, in contact with the powerful material. An audience plays an important role in that. Overall we expect people who participate to be prepared. *** In reverse; it is well known that both film makers and international gatherings can be a lot of fun. What do you look most forward to as a film festival organizer? Meeting between the Greenlandic artists and Berlin. The possible fusion – those two together. A mutual interest, hopefully. The flow ‐ Berliner & the Greenlandic. And Nive’s concert. Nive Nielsen, singer and songwriter (http://youtu.be/JC2_dafzTDE ) ‐ is basically the shining star of contemporary talented Greenland. Very gifted in terms of international outreach. At the right pace, with the right people & right places. We’re happy that the HBC at Alexander Platz will host the concert. No doubt that it’s going to be an intense and a different week. I’m looking forward to see the films. On a personal level, it’s very interesting for me to bring Berlin, Greenland and cinema together. I’m aiming at interplay and an eye‐opener for the audience.
ON MAKING FILM IN AND ABOUT THE ARCTIC *** Being a filmmaker yourself, where do you see GREENLAND EYES IFF in terms of film‐making? Any personal expectations? Let me rephrase this – what makes you make film in and about the Arctic? I have made two films in Greenland and my approach to the productions was very different. Faith, Hope and Greenland (2009) was a very personal project. It was the first time I was back in Greenland since I was little and the film was very much a way of meeting Greenland again. It was a way, which made it easier in a way, to say hello again. I felt that I had a proper purpose to go there and to stay for a long time and to work there. Doing an art project or a film is a really good way of getting to know a place because the work is so intensive and you meet a lot of people in quite intense and personal ways. Faith, Hope and Greenland was very much an emotional project in terms of digging into my own history and find out where I come from – to use an over‐used phase. I decided to find that out by going there and doing something with people who share same interests. Through that work I also had headspace to find out what Greenland is for me, being a person who has been on the move quiet a lot. On the other hand, the film was also a statement and a way of brining about a different perspective on Greenland. Growing up in Denmark, I always felt that the stories coming out of Greenland were the negative ones and I was determined to tell the story of the talented, innovative and active Greenland, which I knew also existed. Somebody has to tell this part of the story as well. With Echoes (2010), my personal issues had fallen into place and I could think more conceptually about Greenland. I have a huge fascination with abandoned places, sounds and structures in nature, colourwise and in their physicality. When you look at things this way, I actually see a big connection between Berlin and Greenland. Berlin is the capital of minimal electronic music and when you walk around Greenland, you often hear sounds, which sound electronic – such as the ice breaking. My idea was therefore to work on interconnecting Berlin and Greenland through electronic music. Working on Echoes, contact microphones where essential in my way of narrating spaces in East Greenland. With them, we would extract sounds from the inside of objects and I was curious to try to add actual story‐telling to a film this way. Overall, the Greenland – Berlin relationship was one of the cornerstones of my conceptual aspirations and it is as well with Greenland Eyes IFF. ** What would you like the audience to take home with them after they see Echoes (2010) and e.g. Hinnarik (2009)? Can we expect people to comprehend the wide range of narrative spaces which undoubtedly will manifest during the festival screening and debates? An eye‐opener. Nothing less. But it depends on the audience as well. The filmmakers need to engage to make it happen. Certain unspoken “requierements” are in play. The filmmakers need to engage and explain to others their concepts, perspectives, aspirations etc. I think that there is a good chance this will happen. Everyone in Berlin is already excited and getting ready to welcome our guests. The University is totally ready! You can say that a good chunk of our audience is ready, at least in Germany. To return to your question. I expect people to take a broad understanding with them. For the students, I expect them to engage in fruitful discussions with those who they learn about. It’s going to be a co‐op effort.
*** Your short film Echoes (2010) has received quite a few awards recently. Congratulations. What I want you to ask is if you feel a genuine, international interest in Greenlandic film nowadays? And is it the art or is it the “ultima thule” still that “attracts”? Yes, there is definitely a huge interest in Greenlandic films and I would say that Greenland as a fantasy no‐ mans‐land still is the main focus but at the same time, I sense a huge development in the perception of Greenland. A lot of information has come out of Greenland in recent years by international, good newspapers and this really helps. The perspective is becoming more diverse and many Greenlanders are being interviewed and are speaking out about culture, music, the climate, minerals and the political situation and system. Most of the people I meet are very interested. That said, film festivals professional arenas and that means that the films have to meet certain standards and be able to compete on an international level. You will get rejected sometimes but in terms of quality, I believe that a little bit of resistance is quite important in order to know what you are up against. Then there is the question of access. Where to get a hand on those movies. Distribution etc. Echoes is e.g. available through the Los Angeles/ London based distribution company Shorts International and the Danish library system. Nuummioq (2009) is out on DVD, as well as Hinnarik (2009). I know that for example Branding Greenland is well aware of the market and a good example of global outreach is Nive Nielsen and the Deer Children music. Many could learn from Jan De Vroede & Nive Nielsen in terms of sustainable *** And here comes my last question. With Greenland Eyes IFF you address urban Greenland. In what way you see the urban in Greenlandic movies? In Germany, the nature is still very much in focus. This being the case in many other European countries or for that matter most of the film productions approaching Greenland. In present context, addressing urbanity in Greenland is not about the city limits in contrast to nature. Urbanity is simply about being a person, living in Greenland. In an abstract, but important sense, we invite you to think out of the box. The variety of films in our program nail the fact that our goal is not to categorize, but indeed bombard you, the spectator with contemporary art. Luckily, the film selection encompasses also exhibitions, music, performative storytelling and finally all the interesting people to meet & greet. *** Ivalo Frank, thank you very much and all the best.
REFERENCES This interview was conducted January the 6th, 2012 by Jakub Christensen M. GREENLAND EYES IFF OFFICIAL SPONSORS & PARTNERS
General queries firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Specific film or festival queries Ivalo Frank: firstname.lastname@example.org +49 176 811 81 938 Greenland Eyes office Greenland Eyes International Film Festival Nordeuropa‐Institut Unter den Linden 6 10099 Berlin +49 30 2093 4956 Visiting address Dorotheenstr. 24 Building 3 2nd floor room 3.222 http://www.greenlandeyes.com
Lill‐Ann Körber: lill‐email@example.com +49 179 102 61 55
- Q&A WITH DIRECTOR AND FILM FESTIVAL COORDINATOR IVALO FRANK