The Seattle Film Festival is on and I've just returned from the world premier (indeed!) of 1:1 (En til En):
The love affair between a Danish girl and a Palestinian emigrant is rocked to its core when her brother is found beaten half to death and all suspicions point towards the local Arab community. Mistrust and racial animosity bubble to the surface in this tough drama about the lack of tolerance and understanding between cultures.
It was quite good and timely on several counts. The issue of immigration and the relations between Christian and Muslim cultures in Europe appears paramount.
But I wonder if a "co-star" of the movie was the housing project — inspired by Le Corbusier and Robert Moses? — where the protagonists and their families lived. The film-makers made sure we didn't miss the importance of the physical context. The movie starts with a view of the town's plan which then morphs into an aerial photo. Then we see flashbacks to the 50s or 60s (real ones, not staged, I think) showing the origins of the place, with voice-over by its designer specifically explaining his philosophy: a perfect place where "cars and pedestrians would never mix." It's only after that explicit placement of the drama in a 1950s-60s housing project that the drama begins. And to my eyes, which I admit are always looking for a spatial hook, the violence in the movie was clearly abetted by the vulnerability of solitary isolated pedestrians in the midst of sterile "open space."
Highly recommended if only as a story of two families.
The local hippie paper, The Stranger, says:.
As far as I know, there's no equivalent Danish term for the banlieus that ring Paris, but this excellent feature about racial tension among teens in a "prefabricated township" outside Copenhagen follows in the well-marked footsteps of French films like Lila Says and Games of Love and Chance (both SIFF 2005). The girl (Joy Petersen) is European and extremely pretty; the boy (Mohammed-Ali Baker) is Palestinian and also extremely pretty. Their siblings are thugs (the Palestinian is a boxer; the Dane uses racist slang), and violence between the thugs poisons their pretty love. Despite the familiar plot, the drama is precise and harrowing. Annie Wagner
(I don't see Annie Wagner's attempt at equivalence; the genesis of the problem is from dishonesty in only one family. But see the movie yourself.)