Erik Poppe’s account of the 2011 shootings on the island of Utøya missed out on the Golden Bear in the main competition programme of the Berlin Film Festival, which went to Adina Pintilie’s Touch Me Not, but is content with the exposure his work was afforded.
On 22nd July 2011, far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik detonated a van in Oslo killing eight people, then shot dead 69 people at a summer camp on the island of Utøya. U – July 22, written by Siv Rajendram Eliassen and Anna Bache-Wiig (Acquitted), is a fictionalised account of that day based on interviews with survivors.
The film begins 12 minutes before the first shot was fired, where we meet fictional character Kaja, her little sister, and their friends. Filmed in a single take to amplify the tension, the next 72 minutes follow Kaja as she becomes separated from her sister, and the youngsters’ fight for survival.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Erik Poppe said: “The most important thing for us has been achieved. We wanted to participate in Berlin’s main competition to share the film and the story of this attack, with Berlin and the whole world, in a dignified and proper manner.”
“We showed the film to a major international audience and spoke about July 22nd in the press conference and through interviews, but the important thing for us with this movie was to convey a truthful story that deeply affects the audience, about what actually happened on the 22nd of July, not film prizes.”
U – July 22 (Utøya 22. juli) premieres 9th March in Norway.