Tromsø & NUUK, NUFF & Filmverkstedet i NUUK

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Alessandro Belleli, Tvibit 2019 

NUFF 2019 has finished a few weeks ago, many artists and filmmakers from all over the world, sharing ten amazing days of film worshops, seminars, film focus, film screenings and more. One of this year’s focus as a part of the Nordic cooperation, was Greenland: Tromsø and Nuuk, so far and yet so close, share a lot on the level of the climate, the landscape, the history but now also on the level of the film world and particularly within the young talent development.

 The collaboration between Filmverksted i NUUK, NUFF & Tvibit together with the last visit of NUUK by NUFF & Tvibit brought to Tromsø 6 participants and 2 workshop leaders from Greenland: Aka Hansen (leader of the permanent film workshop in NUUK) and Inuk Jørgensen (head of the Film department of Nordiska Folkhogskolan, Kungålv, Sweden). The first thing many of them experienced coming arriving in Tromsø from NUUK is that the other twin city feels extraordinarily like home, much closer than imagined. That was also what NUFF director and Tvibit representative felt in their stay in NUUK in December, in occasion of the official opening of the Film Verkstedet.

 During NUFF participants from different countries had the chance to get introduced to nowadays’ Greenlandic film scene: a dynamic reality made of talents with a firm wish of expressing their voices, narrate their own visions of Greenland and of film itself to the world.

 The following interview with Aka Hansen (in a the next blogg post also with Inuk Jørgensen) is a continuation of this important dialogue and exciting cooperation. Enjoy this journey with us!


NUFF er ferdig for i år - ti fantastiske dager med filmworkshops, seminarer, filmfokus, filmvisninger og mange unge filmskapere fra hele verden. Et av årets viktigste fokus var Grønland: Tromsø og Nuuk, så langt fra hverandre og likevel så nært. De to vennskapsbyene har mye til felles når det gjelder klima, landskapet og historien, men nå også i filmverden og spesielt med tanke på talentutvikling blant unge filmskapere.

 Samarbeidet mellom Filmverkstedet i NUUK, NUFF og Tvibit førte til at 6 deltagere og 2 workshopledere fra Grønland deltok på årets festival. Workshoplederne fra Grønland var Aka Hansen (leder for det faste filmverkstedet i NUUK) og Inuk Jørgensen (leder fra Filmavdelingen i Nordiska Folkhogskolan, Kungålv, Sverige). Det første de grønlandske gjestene kommenterte da de kom til Tromsø var opplevelsen av at vennskapsbyen føltes ekstraordinært som hjemme, mye nærmere enn de hadde forestilt seg. Det var også det NUFFs prosjektleder og Tvibits representant følte under oppholdet i NUUK i desember, da de besøkte byen i anledning den offisielle åpningen av Filmverkstedet.

 Under årets NUFF ble de deltakerne fra forskjellige land introdusert for nåtidens grønlandske filmlanskap: en dynamisk virkelighet laget av talenter med et sterkt ønske om å uttrykke sine stemmer, fortelle sine egne visjoner om Grønland og film for verden.

 Dette intervjuet med Aka Hansen (neste blogginnlegg blir med Inuk Jørgensen) er en videreføring av denne viktige dialogen og det spennende samarbeidet. Kos deg med oss på denne reisen!

 Aka Hansen


“I think Greenlandic stories are very important. People want to know about Greenland and it is also very important to tell them about Greenland as we see it.

 …going from NUUK to Tromsø feels so natural, Tromsø seems so familiar in many ways: from the nature to the beat of the city and the climate and just everything feels familiar and it feels like home. This is something, we need to build a bridge, I mean you are far ahead of us, maybe we will be where Tvibit or the film workshop is in 10 years or 20 years but it feels like a big brother to us.”

1) How has your experience with Nordic Youth Film Festival been through the years? You are kind of a veteran..

 The first time I was at NUFF was 2008 and the reason why I came is that some of my friends from the European Film College that I went to until 2007, were participating and said: “Let’s meet in NUFF, that would be nice!”. So I applied and Hermann said that it was the first time he met somebody from Greenland. So that was my first time there, I met a lot of nice friends, with some of them I am still in contact today. Later I was there in 2015, this time as a workshop leader, I was just like 1-2 years older than the participants. I almost felt I was a part of the group in a different way than a workshop leader, but it was a lot of fun and I think we ended up enjoying a lot. I was also there with my son, he was 1 month old at that time. This year, 2019 I helped finding the participants, more like a partnership, a collaboration between NUFF and the film workshop in NUUK.

 2) According to your perspective what did it mean for the young Greenlandic participants  to be part of NUFF? What did they get out of it?

 I think they got to see other people and got really inspired just starting to make films or keep making films. Sometimes here the film scene is so small and you have to do everything by yourself, maybe even lights, the story and all the first steps and then keep the film running through production and post production. That is a lot of work, if you need to do everything by yourself it is also very hard, so I think they got lots of new energy and inspiration.

 3) Can you tell us something about the permanent film workshop, Filmverkstedet i NUUK?

 The film workshop has been under its way for quite some years, it is something that people before me worked to establish and now it is partially funded by the government and then for the municipality of Sermersooq where NUUK is a part of. I took over in April and I have been trying to get a lot of workshops started, some of them were documentary workshops, like from idea to audience: what you need to make your film from the creative side. What we are trying to do is to make the ground, we are doing everything from scratch so beside doing all these basic workshops, we need to get all the equipment and the facilities that we need. I have been out doing shopping for cutleries and mugs and so on, I mean we didn’t have any, so basically starting up the film workshop and making it a place where people want to come and learn about filmmaking.

 Before the film workshop I have been working with new talent during all my career, so it feels natural to me to invite people in and making them a part of something that is starting up. 


4)    How is the cooperation on the level of the young talent development between Tromsø and NUUK within the film world?

 Hermann and I have been since 2008 talking together and he keeps asking me: “Who are the talents there, who do you want to send here?”, this has happened during the years. From here on, I hope to develop this further, make this more efficient. What I experienced is that going from NUUK to Tromsø feels so natural, Tromsø seems so familiar in many ways: from the nature to the beat of the city and the climate and just everything feels familiar and it feels like home. This is something, we need to build a bridge, I mean you are far ahead of us, maybe we will be where Tvibit or the film workshop is in 10 years or 20 years but it feels like a big brother to us.

 5)    How do you think can NUFF further contribute in this sense?

 It is already working very well, having people that participate at NUFF, it gives them a lot of inspiration and tools, basic knowledge and a lot of network too; that is already important as a young filmmaker. I think maybe we should do some intense cooperation with workshops.

 6)    NUFF and Greenlandic film workshop, is there something you will bring to NUUK from NUFF & Tvibit and something you will bring from GL workshop to NUFF/Tvibit?

 Yes, I was really inspired by having a tour in the new Tvibit, I was used to the old Tvibit and really fascinated by seeing the small offices of the festivals and a lot of things coming together. You collected a lot of different cultural workers at the same house and that was inspiring, that is something I want to look for the possibility of making also for here, to make something that, “Tvibit’ish”. Of course we are going to look at the network here see the film workshop and see and how can we work together in the future.

7)    Can you tell us something about situation of the Greenlandic film Industry?

  It is becoming more and more professionalized from year to year, it started from scratch around 12 years ago, nobody was making films or living out of making films at that time. Now we have a film organization with around 35 members: professional and semi-professional filmmakers. It has grown through a decade but it is also still developing, we are getting stronger and getting more money from the government. When I started we only had 300000 Danish Crowns as a fund, now we have 3 millions, so it has developed. Now we also have a film workshop that is part of the government money. Hopefully this is something that the Greenlandic government looks at and sees that we have potential. We are very much looking at the Icelandic film business and be very much inspired by them; but at the same time we know we can’t compete with them because we know they have so much better infrastructure, they get easier around in the countryside and they can manage a lot of people there. We still don’t have them here.

 8)    What does the Greenlandic film system need today?

 The film organisation is working to get a film Institute that will manage, commission, get better conditions for the workers here. I think that is the obvious next step, to get a film institute and then from there things can start happening. Then we can get more political influence.

 9)    What are the challenges of it?

  It is a very small community and it is a challenge for us; you know it also from Tromsø perhaps, the fewer the people then everybody is related, know each other, maybe don’t like each other. But it is also one of our strength, we know everybody so if somebody contact me and they need somebody that can do this, I know exactly who they call, who they can contact if they want to work with a fixer in Ilullisat for example. We are also working to get more people inside the business.

 10) What do you dream for Greenland within the film world?

  I think that we are definitely professionalizing ourselves, we definitely need young people to take part of the film scene and that’s why the film workshop is such an important part of it. We need to get more people inside the business to get better.

 11) How similar and how different is the film world in NUUK and in Tromsø?

  Well it is more established in Tromsø, having the annual workshop there with NUFF and the annual festival TIFF and Below 0 and a lot of things that already started many years ago. We are still trying to build up, we are trying to have NUFF every year, but we need to finance it every year, it is not established yet.

 12) What about the future, what do you wish in relation to your work?

  I think sometimes you struggle a lot getting funding and getting the right persons. If I should make a scenario that would be perfect… I hope to get more recognition for the film work, I mean both for the people working in it but also the economy, that they would put more money in films. I think that is what every filmmaker would say but at the end you make the films you need to anyways. So it is hard to say what would be a good scenario.

 13) What place are you in today as a filmmaker and artist? Where do you see your way going to?

 I would very much like to get this: my main goal is to make a film workshop that is going to stay; right now the film workshop is only supported for 3 years so I have to convince some of the funders that this should be here forever, this is my personal goal. Also being part of the film scene, not just in Greenland but in the whole world, I think Greenlandic stories are very important. People want to know about Greenland and it is also very important to tell them about Greenland as we see it. Because for a long time we had the Danish stories or theirs view on Greenland represented outside of Greenland.

 14) Is there a place where a true story about Greenland can be told by the common and dialogical perspectives of native Greenlandic filmmaking (internal perspective) and a foreign listening look (external)? Where and how could we find such a place if we shall look for it?

 I think about this a lot: if you were a female you would understand, when you see a film made by men about women you would be like “Yeah, I see your point but it is not really like that” :D, that would be my easiest answer. Like a straight guy making a film about homosexuals, maybe there would be some truths but then maybe it could also feel a little bit like “it is close but not really like how I see it as a homosexual or something”.

 Right now it is only the Danish or the outsiders view and that is why is important now to have a nuanced look on the stories, so I am not saying they should only be from the Greenlanders point of view, but this is missing very much like the question about female or homosexuals. What is happening now it is almost the same that we are going through with the indigenous communities. Today everybody needs to be part of the agenda, this structural thing that has been maintained for some years it is falling apart in many ways and I think that’s why we are raising now in Greenland.

 15) Can you tell us something about the music scene in GL?

  Well, the music scene is stronger than the film scene is in Greenland, we had a lot of influence from the outside until the 70’s. At that time Greenland went through a lot of development, the film “Sumé, the sound of a revolution” will put you very much in the position of seeing what is Greenlandic film is based on, and it is on their shoulders. A quite political and rebel group of people that started to make political songs from the 70’s and let to the “Home rule” of Greenland that we had in 1979. Today we have a very diverse music scene in Greenland, mostly pop and rock but also techno music, electronic music. We have classical music, opera and I think there is a very wide range of music made in Greenland and by Greenlandic people. So the music has 30 years more development than the film business has, it is more developed I think.

Alessandro Belleli