Filmgrenser: Stella Polaris
STELLA POLARIS (Norway 1993, English subtitles)
Directed by Knut Erik Jensen. With Anne Krigsvoll, Ketil Høegh, Eirin Hargaut.
Knut Erik Jensen’s first feature film Stella Polaris sets out to recount the history of Finmark during the last 50 years from the vantage point of the people living in Norway’s northernmost county. However, instead of subscribing to a documentary style lining up historical ‘facts’ and supporting them through the presentation of either audio-visual or written documentation, Jensen adopts a different aesthetic strategy. Instead of conjuring up a linear historical trajectory Stella Polaris presents history as ultimately composed of various inherently unreliable, inaccurate, and actively shaped individual memories. These memories are contingent, that is they do neither provide access to the past as it actually occurred, nor are they entirely up to the whims of the individual who remembers. Rather history emerges as the constantly changing, temporary product of intersubjective negotiations of individual memories and material traces that together frame the articulation of various possible pasts.
This understanding leads us over to the first issue of liminality touched upon by Jensen; history as the liminal zone in which fragmentary and partial memories are combined with material traces to frame our constant negotiation of the past. This understanding of history as more than a line of dates and firmly established facts is heavily emphasized by the audio-visual aesthetic deployed by Jensen. The narrative does not progress linearly, but constantly jumps back and forth between various different timelines. Incidents are not presented in an objectifying manner implying to provide access to what actually happened, but are brought forth as inaccurate, often contradictory fragments inviting for many possible readings, and actively engaging the viewer in the production of meaning. All possible readings are however framed by a particular underlying understanding; Finmark as a liminal zone between East and West.
This brings us over to the second form of liminality at play in Stella Polaris. The understanding of Finmark not as a county located on the margins of Norway divided from Russia by a neat and unequivocal borderline, but Finmark as a zone of contact and negotiation – an entity in its own right, a third space enabling the tacit questioning and careful challenge of the discourse of the nation stabilizing the orders on each side. This understanding of Finmark as a liminal transitory location charges Jensen’s fragmentary narrative with subversive potential. Brief flashes of memories illustrate the divided loyalties and alternative political frames of the local population that was displaced by the Germans, liberated by the Red army, enlisted on NATO’s side during the cold war, and exposed to the destructive potentials of unleashed market forces from the 1980s onward. Instead of presenting allegedly clear-cut facts Jensen’s film provides limited and fragmented access to a protagonist who embodies these diverse allegiances and varied historical experiences exhibiting an identity beyond the mutually exclusive logic of either East or West, and opening up the potentials for an alternative, and potentially subversive ‘as well as’.
Etter den store suksessen med Filmgrenser serien høsten 2010 er vi nå i gang igjen. Filmgrenser 2 tilnærmer seg grensebegrepet fra to forskjellige innfallsvinkler. Noen innledere kommer til å fokusere på hvordan konkrete politiske, økonomiske, kulturelle, etniske eller andre grenser fremstilles gjennom filmmediet. Andre kommer til belyse hvordan grensekonseptet kan anvendes som et analytisk redskap for å få frem nye tolkninger av og tilnærminger til film.
Som sist blir hver visning innledet av forskere med en interesse for grensenes estetikk, kultur og politikk. Etter visningene blir det tid til spørsmål, kommentarer, kritikk og debatt. Vi håper på stor deltagelse og gleder oss til interessante tilbakemeldinger og inspirerende nye tanker.
Filmgrenser 2 blir arrangert i regi av Grenseestetikk prosjektet ved Universitetet i Tromsø (Institutt for Kultur og Litteratur). Vi takker Norsk Forskningsråd (KULVER), Fritt Ord og Institutt for Kultur og Litteratur for å finansiere visningene. Ansatte og studenter ved Universitetet i Tromsø får gratis adgang til alle visningene innen Filmgrenser 2 serien. Husk ansatt eller studentbevis. Velkommen!
After the success of the first Filmborders series autumn 2010 we now embark on a new endeavor. Filmborders 2 approaches the border concept from two distinct vantage points. Some presenters will direct attention to the ways through which political, economic, cultural, ethnic, and other borders are represented and negotiated in and through film, while other will focus on the border as an analytical tool that enables new interpretations and approaches to film.
As always each screening will be introduced by a researcher interested in the border aesthetics, border politics, and/or border culture. After each screening there will be time for questions, comments, critique, and debate. We hope for a great attendance and look forward to interesting feedback and inspiring new thoughts.
Filmborder 2 is organized by the Border Aesthetics project coordinated at the Dept. for Culture and Literature at Tromsø University. We are grateful to the Norwegian Research Council’s KULVER programme, the Fritt Ord Foundation, and the Dept. for Culture and Literature for funding the series. Employees and students at Tromsø University have free admission to all Filmborders 2 screenings. Remember to bring your employee and student cards. Welcome!