In mid February the documentary Together in Isolation: The Lockdown of the Faroe Islands was released on YouTube. As the title suggests, the documentary, created by Polish filmmaker Jakub ‘Kuba’ Witek, is about the Faroe Islands during the Covid-19 related lockdown last spring.
Witek, who has created several documentaries about Nordic countries, among them Faroe Way: The Art of Survival in the Faroe Islands, explained how he once again went to the Faroe Islands last year with the desire to experience the Faroese winter before heading on to Greenland. His stay was planned for three months, however due to the lockdown he was forced to stay in Faroe for longer than expected.
“I had been trying to go to Greenland for two years, and I was worried about my relatives and the future,” Witek noted.
“After the first weeks of the lockdown, when the emotions subsided a bit and we all started to get used to the new situation, I started going for long walks regularly. In Poland, at that time, the possibilities of leaving the house were very limited, so I thought it would be stupid not to take advantage of the fact that I was in such a beautiful place, where there were no bans and restrictions.”
It was during these walks that the filmmaker began to observe how the Faroese community dealt with the crisis, the uncertainty and even greater isolation than usual.
He said: “One day I saw a concert by Hallur Joensen — a country music star — who came to a retirement home, set up an amplifier, a few loudspeakers and played his favorite songs for the elderly. Taking advantage of the fact that I had all of my film equipment with me and a lot of free time, I began to document life in the Faroe Islands during the coronavirus lockdown.”
The documentary was made in about four months, Witek said. During that period, he interviewed 18 people, among them Kristina Háfoss, former MP and Finance Minister, now Secretary General of the Nordic Council; journalist and editor Sveinur Tróndarsson; artist and ocean rower Livar Nysted; virologist Shahin Gaini, professor Hans Andrias Sølvará, at the University of the Faroe Islands; and priest Marjun Lómaklett, in Klaksvík.
“Working on Together in Isolation gave me a lot of satisfaction, experience and many new relationships with interesting people, whom I would like to thank very much for participating in the project,” Witek added.