Thousands protest new film on Utøya

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More than 20,000 people have signed a campaign on social media against a new film based on a Norwegian right-wing extremist’s massacre on the island of Utøya seven years ago. They claim it’s too early since the attack that killed 69 people, mostly young members of Norway’s Labour Party, and that it will give the mass murderer renewed publicity.

Norway’s former prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, made a solitary trip back to the island of Utøya a year after it was the scene of a massacre carried out by a lone gunman on July 22, 2011. A film now in production about the attack on Stoltenberg’s Labour Party is raising concerns and drawing criticism. PHOTO: Statsministererns kontor

Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Wednesday that in addition to those supporting the campaign on Facebook entitled Nei til film om Anders Behring Breivik! (“No to a film” about the right-wing terrorist), another 50,000 had shared the campaign as of Tuesday evening.

Newspaper VG reports that the campaign was launched by Vegard Løkken, a resident of Oppland County who is also calling for a boycott against the film’s producer Netflix. Løkken fears the film will generate too much publicity for Breivik, who also bombed Norway’s government headquarters before unleashing his massacre on Utøya because he blamed the Labour-led government at the time for allowing too many immigrants into Norway.

“It’s much too early to make a film about him, the wounds are still too fresh,” Løkken told VG. “This will hit those involved (Breivik’s victims) hard.”

State support
The film, which has secured NOK 17 million in state funding from Norway’s film incentive fund, has also been criticized by some victims’ families while the head of Labour’s youth organization has also said he thinks it’s too early for a film on the massacre. Løkken mostly doesn’t want Breivik, who reportedly has inspired other right-wing extremists, to get any more attention.

“We have already spent multiple millions of tax money on that jerk already,” Løkken told VG. “Now he’ll get more PR and can enjoy seeing his name become even better known.”

Aftenposten reported that Netflix wouldn’t comment on either its production of the film or the campaign against it. Netflix would only state that it has been in contact with Norway’s national support group for July 22 victims and their families during the course of developing the film. The support group didn’t want to comment on the film either.

Details unclear
The film is based on Norwegian author Åsne Seierstad’s book En av oss (One of us), which profiled Norway’s home-grown terrorist but also several of his victims and covered the court case that followed the July 22 attacks. The film is entitled simply Norway, and Netflix earlier has stated that it will feature three stories tied to the events of July 22: Survivors and how they rebuilt their lives, former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (now secretary general of NATO) and other Norwegian politicians who led Norway through the crisis, and lawyers involved in the court case that was aimed at giving Breivik a fair trial. They include Geir Lippestad, who defended Breivik and is now a top politician for Labour in Oslo’s city government.

That indicates the film will be more about the aftermath of the attacks, which can also explain its title. Director Paul Greengrass told newspaper Dagbladet when he was in Norway in September that it was “important” for him and his crew to make the film in a “respectful and correct” manner. He said he hoped there would be understanding that they released the fewest possible details about the film during production.

Filming underway amidst complaints
When filming began recently in the community of Nøtterøy, local officials complained that they weren’t informed until it was about to begin. The film location is an island owned and managed by the Norwegian military, and thus outside local jurisdiction.

“If I’d received an inquiry earlier, I would have asked them (the producers) to do their filming on a Swedish island, or somewhere else,” Nøtterøy’s top administrative official, Toril Eeg, told Dagbladet at the end of October.

Eeg, who carries the title of rådmann, said the production company wrote in an email that filming would be discreet, that they were aware of the project’s sensitivity and that they had contacted the victims’ and families’ support group. “I was caught off guard, but felt obliged to just accept it,” Eeg said.

Since details about the film remain unclear, Løkken can’t be sure either that the film will give Breivik more publicity. “No,” he acknowledged to VG, “but it’s about July 22 and then you can’t avoid him.” He doesn’t think any film should be made for another 40 to 50 years: “Then all the facts should be on the table, the families would have had time to collect themselves. If a film has to be made, it shouldn’t be until (Breivik) is dead. Now his name will just become better known.” Berglund

  • Roy Everson

    This is a little off topic — not that much! — but I view with alarm the weekend’s upcoming “Hope Festival” in Oslo starring Franklin Graham, the Trump-supporting hater of Islam, Mormonism, LBGT — you name it and he’ll hate it in the name of God and Jesus. He was a Trump backer in 2011 at the height of Trump’s racist Birther movement that questioned President Obama’s legitimacy. Trump’s election was proof of God’s handiwork.

    The posters seem so hip and inviting it makes one gag to imagine the sincere Norwegian youth who will be taken in by this fake. I appreciate Vaart Land’s humorous confusion wondering if the event is meant to promote men’s health or is a dating festival. I don’t challenge the right to hold this sham — just the attempt to normalize Graham’s extreme right agenda with the collusion of Ticketmaster and Oslo Spektrum. “Hope” Festival — as in hope those Norwegians don’t catch on to the real Graham before they pass the hat for donations.

    • richard albert

      Roy, brother; Now If you think you are ‘off topic’ dig this incoherent rant. Moderator – you are a saint.
      “You are a unique individual created and loved by God—no one has your DNA, ,” Graham said. (At Hope Festival). Wrong again, Watson.
      Unfortunately , starting around 2010, jurists and investigative agencies are being forced to re-think that concept. The Bertillon System was replaced by fingerprinting. Still a useful tool, but it is only that. It is not definitive, and yet Graham conflates the two.

      Do I strain at a gnat? perhaps, however this bug is followed by an entire caravan of ugly, spitting camels, if one researches FG’s ‘sermons’.

      “The language of certainty that examiners are forced to use hides a great deal of uncertainty,” U.K. Lord Justice Leveson, address to the Forensic Science Society. Quote picked at random from many.
      Why not have your high-power team ascertain that your platitudes, assertions, and general BS is at least marginally factual before you stick your foot in it?

      Sir Franklin:
      I am sure that you would take umbrage at my admittedly sarcastic post. As a sincere evangelist, who has taken it upon yourself to mount a crusade in Norway, I am certain that you are aware of, and prayerfully consider the following scriptures in the form that most in this country recognise them:
      “For det skal komme en tid da de ikke skal tåle den sunde lære, men efter sine egne lyster ta sig selv lærere i hopetall, fordi det klør dem i øret.” 2 Timoteus 4:3 (DNB1930)
      “Ta eder først og fremst i vare for fariseernes surdeig, som er hykleri!”
      Lukas 12:1 (DNB1930)

      Tell’em what they want to want to hear and pass the hat. Evangelist? Mountebank; an ear-tickler.

      Bottom line: this is free, protected, religious speech. Hemlock is passé (never did work). We don’t expect an Areopagitica, Pauline or Miltonian. Do remember the fate of prophets and reformers who meddle in politics: Girolamo Savonarola was hanged in 1498, ostensibly for faking miracles.

      As to Ticketmaster and Oslo Spektrum, why deny vultures an Exquisite Corpse? (Sorry Mr Codrescu).