New Norwegian Feature Will Open This Year’s Fredrikstad Animation Festival


People that live in the wake of humanitarian catastrophes survive just like most people do; dreams, hope, community and love are driving forces in animation director Mats Grorud’s film. But how do you retrieve hope and a sense of your own future, when you live in the shadow of the past?

In this year’s Fredrikstad Animation Festival the opening film will be The Tower – the story of eleven-year-old girl Wardi and her great grandpa Sidi, living together with their family in a four-story high “tower”, one-room houses built in stages, in a refugee camp.

This will be the one of the first screenings of the film, and with this the festival wants to promote how animation can serve as a medium for telling important and more serious stories – both for children and adults. The screening will be visited by the state’s secretary of the culture department.

Sidi, which fled his land in the first Israel-Arab conflict of 1948, also called “al-Nakba” the catastrophe, by the Palestinians, has never stopped dreaming about returning to his homeland. But his old age has put him onto other thoughts.

The weight of an overwhelming military power, over several generations, has led to the family being beaten down.

Having lived and studied in Cairo, Dar es Salaam and Beijing, Mats Grorud makes use of these experiences when he chooses topics and themes for his films. This also goes for his time in Beirut in Lebanon, where the film is set. In the camp of Burj el-Baranjeh in the outskirts of southern Beirut, Grorud worked for a year and met people and stories that have inspired The Tower.

After 70 years as exiles in Lebanon the Palestinians are still looked upon as strangers and are regularly subject to racism. Being a target for violence in later conflicts as well, their shell-shocks have never been given time to subside.

The films narrative is centered around Wardi’s rising awareness about the family’s history, throughout the four generations that live in the tower, in her search for Sidi’s lost hope and her own future.

As grim as that sounds, The Tower is filled with moments of bittersweet humor and shreds of hope in the character of Wardi, while Grorud’s playful animation helps lighten the load of his discourse.

Mats Grorud is a former award winner of Fredrikstad Animation Festival and has also shown work in progress of The Tower there in 2015. There will be an exhibition about the film in Fredrikstad Cinema’s foyer during the festival, the weekend between the 25th and 28th of October.

Singel tickets for the opening and the opening film are on sales through the sale channels of Fredriktsad Kino.

Audience with an valid festival pass (for the whole festival or Thursday) do not need to purchase a singel ticket.