To verdener is the Danish title of this film. It is one of this year’s selections at the Tribeca Film Festival. One of the great things about New York and the TFF is the opportunity to see a movie that you would never even hear about. To verdener is quite a popular movie in Denmark. It has been, and will continue to be, making appearances at film festivals around the world. The movie is in Danish, with English subtitles.
It is based on the true story of 17 year old Sara who, along with her family, is a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Sara falls in love with Teis, who is a nonbeliever. If she continues her relationship with him, she will be expelled from the church, and will not be able to see her family again.
The director, Niels Arden Oplev (who also co-wrote the screenplay), was at the screening and commented on the film as well as answering questions afterward. And he sat right in back of me so you can be sure I paid attention during the movie! Oplev wanted to make a film about religious fundamentalism. He chose not to focus on Muslim fundamentalists since he feels it’s so easy to demonize them. Denmark is home to about 200 fundamentalist sects, and there about 15,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country. Oplev read a newspaper article about the real life Sara (who plays a passenger on a train at the end of the film), and turned her story into this film.
To verdener was very interesting and well done. Although I know next to nothing about Denmark or its people, it’s obvious that there are fundamentalists everywhere. They are willing to sacrifice everything (money, family, friendship, personal comfort) for their strong beliefs. Outsiders feel they are brainwashed, while believers feel outsiders are seriously deluded and headed for eternal damnation. Friday night fun at the movies!
I’m grateful to the TFF for bringing this movie to NYC.