Film about Utøya upsets survivors

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Promotional material for a new American film based on last summer’s massacre on the Norwegian island of Utøya has upset survivors and their families so badly that they’ve called on the Norwegian police for help in getting the promotion halted. Film trailers released on the video-sharing site You Tube, however, are continuing to roll despite protests.

More than two months after the July 22 massacre, mourners continue to leave flowers and tributes for victims of the massacre on Utøya. These were photographed over the weekend. The island that was the scene of the massacre, in the Tyri Fjord outside Oslo, is seen in the background. PHOTO: Views and News

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported on Norway’s national news Sunday evening that police have contacted You Tube and asked that the trailers for the film be removed, on the grounds the contents was extremely upsetting to those who survived the massacre and to the families of many killed on the island. You Tube officials, however, reportedly refused to remove the promotional material from the site, saying it did not violate ethical guidelines.

Norwegian officials are normally the first to defend rights to freedom of expression, but in this case, they’re reacting on behalf of Norwegians directly involved in the terrorist attacks of July 22. The attacks included the massacre in which scores of Labour Party youth were shot by a lone gunman who, according to the trailers, “went berserk” on Utøya. He killed 69 persons during his hour-long rampage, and gravely injured many others, because he holds Labour responsible for turning Norway into a multi-cultural society.

An American director is already underway with a dramatized version of the massacre and started publicizing the film on You Tube. Fictionalized scenes show a blond man in a Norwegian police uniform shooting young people.

AUF, the youth organization of the Norwegian Labour Party that was the target of the real-life gunman, is so upset by the trailer that it contacted Norway’s state police, which in turn contacted the producer of the film and You Tube. “We think they must consider removing the film clip,” Unni Grøndal of the Oslo Police District told news bureau NTB. “This is based on reactions the police have received, that the contents are so offensive.”

The producer, however, responded that the film was being made “in sympathy” with the victims of the massacre, and he hoped the film would help change weapon laws in the US. NRK reported that the protests to You Tube were rejected, while Norwegian newspaper VG reported that it failed to obtain comments from the film’s director, Vitale Versace.

Frode Elgesem, an attorney for AUF, told NTB that the film and its trailers have deeply disturbed survivors and family members of victims so soon after the massacre occurred. Elgesem said he thinks it’s inappropriate to make such a film at this point.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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