The Faroese documentary ‘Skál’ claimed the Best Film award in the New Nordic Voice category at the annual Nordisk Panorama documentary film festival, held in Malmö, Sweden, earlier this month.
The documentary film festival first took place in the 1990s and since 2013 it has been housed in Malmö.
“The winner is fantastic,” the judges commented. “It’s full of sweet moments between two young people who express themselves through music and prose. The cinematography utilizes landscapes, which really is the purest form of artistic cinematography, with a clear directorial vision. The film is respectful of the environment described. There is a wonderful spirit of freedom and love.”
Directed by Maria Tórgarð and Cecilie Debell, ‘Skál’ (the word is used as a toast in Faroese, much like ‘Cheers’ in English) is about Faroese writer and musician Dania O. Tausen and based on her poetry collection of the same name.
“The documentary is about finding yourself, testing boundaries and finding the balance between what you grew up with and the world you are greeted with, in an effort to find your own identity,” the official description reads.
Tausen is from a religious environment and when she falls for hiphop artist Trygvi, who also goes by his stage name Silvurdrongur (Silver Boy in English), their meeting sparks a youthful rebellion that Dania experiences with her friend Marjun.
“It is not that they want to leave their congregation, they just want to be able to be who they are. But how do you maintain that balance?”
So how does the congregation react when Dania releases her poetry collection which is filled with references to rebellion, extreme anxiety and longing for freedom?
“People don’t quite know how to treat me,” Tausen told state broadcaster Danmarks Radio about her experiences shortly before the film premiered at the CPH:DOX film festival in April.
“That’s how I feel with many Christians; I just think they need some time”, she said, adding that some had considered her participation in the film to be something of a provocative act. Meanwhile she went on to explain that she had also received “a lot of positive feedback” from strangers who’d found her description of the life of a Faroese youth relatable.
“But they don’t dare to share any excerpts from the book on their social media profiles because that is still too controversial,” she noted.
“There’s a lot that I haven’t told my parents. It’s nothing special for me as a person of faith, but I think faith has something to do with it, and there is a shame inside you,” Tausen added. “You only hear about all the good things from others and assume that there can’t be others who think like you when it comes to stuff like sex and other things. So it can quickly fill you with shame.”
She added: “We all have doubts and I think we should be allowed to have that.”