Greenland Eyes

The Greenland Eyes film festival is running in Berlin at the moment. I think this is the first festival in Germany with only films that are somehow related to Greenland. We have Henrik Fleischer and his wife staying with us, he grew up on Greenland although he currently lives in Denmark. They had an eventful trip down here.

Hendrik normally works as an editor, but was roped in to do the subtitles on the first film we saw this evening. The translator quit after three weeks, he managed to find a stewardess who did a translation in-flight for him, he spent the last three days non-stop fitting the subtitles in and rendering. The film itself is an adventure, as the young filmmaker who made this first Greenland feature film had deleted it from his hard drive in order to make room for his next project. Luckily, someone had ripped the film at some point, so there was a digital copy to work on. But the film wouldn't render properly and wasn't done when it was time to go, so Hendrik just picked up his iMac (the computer in a big screen), stuffed it in a bag and got on a train. There was an accident along the way, so they just showed up in time for a cup of coffee before heading out to see if they could get the film rendered and projected. They made it.

"Tikeq, qiterleq, mikileraq eqeqqqq" (Forefinger, Middle finger, Ring Finger, Little Finger) by Ujarneq Fleischer (2008) is a story about four teenage boys who want to be the coolest kids around. They are goofy and aggressive and full of testosterone when they suddenly meet a stranger who starts them on a hunt for the ultimate coolness, being a Master of Power. This involves looking for breadboxes in the mountains, swimming in the icy cold Atlantic, and speaking to a girl.

The sweetest line in this no-budget production: Love is harder than mathematics! When all the challanges have been met, they discover the reality ob being an adult - you don't have to be cool any more. Life as an adult is about love, faith, and respect for other people.

The second film of the evening was a German silent production from 1918, Das Eskimobaby, (The Eskimo Baby,  Heinz Schall) with the divine Asta Nielsen playing Ivigtut, a Greenlandic woman brought home by Knud Prätorius, a  Danish Greenland researcher. This is a story about stereotypes - and crossing boundaries. Ivigtut, the uncivilized woman who wears pants, is brought home to Berlin (filmed in Templehofin 1916). She doesn't know how to shake hands, how to eat properly, how to sleep in a bed - and since she can't speak anything but Greenlandic, she can only communicate with Knud in words. And they kiss by rubbing noses, something that Western culture has interpreted into a non-erotic Inuit greeting.

She is presented at the university, looked at, prodded - and prods back, grabbing the esteemed honored professors by the beard or ruffling their balding hair just as they are touching her beads and strange hairdo (I found one picture on Flickr, but it is all rights reserved). Her adventures into a department store and attempts to dress as a lady are pure slapstick.

The evening was so special because after an introduction by Prof. Dr. Stephan M. Schröder of the University of Cologne, Eunice Martins accompanied the entire film with marvelous music on a grand piano. She had no score, but just played, facing the screen, and it fit perfectly.

Nanoq Beer of Greenland passed out free beer at the festival, Mammut pale ale, clocking in at 7.6% alcohol. I didn't know they had breweries on Greenland, I thought everything came from Denmark, but this beer appears to be brewed with "pristine clear Greenland water" since 2011. Of course, there were never any mammoths in Greenland, but they go nicely with the cut out of the polar bear on the label. I liked it, but then, I'm not really a beer drinker because I also like Swedish lättöl...

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