(Release Info London schedule; April 28th, 2019, Electric Cinema, Notting Hill 191 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, England, W11 2ED, 10:00 AM)
"Woman At War"
Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) declares a one-woman-war on the aluminium industry. She's prepared to risk everything to protect the pristine 'Icelandic Highlands' she loves. Until an orphan unexpectedly enters her life.
Halla is a fifty-year-old independent woman. But behind the scenes of a quiet routine, she leads a double life as a passionate environmental activist. Known to others only by her alias 'The Woman Of The Mountain', Halla secretly wages a one-woman-war on the local aluminium industry. As Halla’s actions grow bolder, from petty vandalism to outright industrial sabotage, she succeeds in pausing the negotiations between 'The Icelandic Government' and the corporation building a new aluminium smelter. But right as she begins planning her biggest and boldest operation yet, she receives an unexpected letter that changes everything. Her application to adopt a child has finally been accepted and there's a little girl waiting for her in Ukraine. As Halla prepares to abandon her role as saboteur and saviour of 'The Highlands' to fulfil her dream of becoming a mother, she decides to plot one final attack to deal the aluminium industry a crippling blow.
"Woman At War" is a classic narrative film with a clear story-arc for the main character. Actually it almost irritates how politically correct everything seems today. But that could maybe change tomorrow. In this case, Halla’s character comes organically through the story and what the drama of telling that story demands. Halla is a common name in Iceland, and one that carries with it quite a lot of historical and cultural reference. Halla and Eyvindur were the last outlaws in Iceland’s history, who are still famous for surviving on the run in the highlands for over 20 years back in 'The Seventeenth Century'. They're real mountain people, sheep thieves and rebels, and many stories have been told about their exploits and struggles. Around a century ago 'The Icelandic' poet and playwright Jóhann Sigurjónsson wrote a play about them, 'Eyvindur Of The Mountains' that reached the international stage and toured successfully in several countries. And exactly 100 years ago in 1918 Victor Sjöström, a Swedish filmmaker. made a film out of the legend called "The Outlaw And His Wife", in which he played the lead role himself. So the name 'Halla' does come with some nice baggage, at least for Icelandic audiences.
This movie is meant to be a heroic tale set in a world of imminent threat. A heroic tale told as an adventure. A serious fairy tale told with a smile. The hero serves in this world as a kind of 'Artemis', the protector of the untouched and wild. Alone, facing a quickly changing planet, she assumes the role of saving mother earth and it's future generations. The point of view is very close to the hero’s, which is how and why we access her inner life. The hero is a musician. The hero is saving the world. The film has music. The musicians performing the music are visible. They're the inner forces that are battling within the hero’s soul. But there are certain things you've to do, even if they're dificult and dangerous. Otherwise you're not really a person, just a little shit. This is a film about a woman striving to be a real person.
The ancient Greeks believed that creative individuals were possessed by a demon or rather that they're followed by a demon who inspired them with good ideas. That’s why Socrates genius was down to his good demon. A daimon could therefore be a muse of sorts, whispering good advice into the hero’s ear. In Rome this idea was transferred to the genius, which each individual had as a kind of guardian angel, following him from the cradle to the grave. Some Romans were less fortunate than others when it came to their genius and would blame it for their mishaps and bitter fates. And just like a Greek chorus they can address the hero as well as the audience, and emphasise important decisions with a powerful dance act. But there's another reason why to make the performance of the music visible, and that has to do with the idea of alienation. This idea goes back a long way in the history of theatre and show business. You could say that every time a musician is on camera playing the score, the film puts inverted commas around the scene, reminding us that we're right in the middle of a fiction and that behind all the pretence is some message or conclusion that the audience member must come to based on the spectacle. You could say that through this device comes to an agreement with the audience about what sort of film this is and what laws it abides by. Perhaps we need a creative helping hand to be willing to submit ourself to that sort of a tale.
"Woman At War" shows humanity on the losing end of an efort to tame or dominate nature. It's a radical failure or foolishness. It’s very clear that nature’s rights should in fact be considered on the same level as human rights, and that’s a thread runs through the film. It seems evident that nature’s rights should be strongly protected in all constitutions and by local and international laws. We need to collectively realize that untouched naturehas an intrinsic right and necessity to exist, regardless of our human needs or our economic system. A more rational system in which we humans, if we wanted to spoil or use unblemished 'Nature' for our own needs, we would need to go through a process, maybe something like a trial, in order to be allowed to do that. These issues are really about the common good and the long-term interests of our existence as a whole. Just like the ability to take a person’s freedom away and keep them inside a prison for life.
Now is the right time to look at this kind of approach. Add to this the strange paradox in some of our societies, 'The State', which in democratic countries is an instrument created by the people for the people, can be so easily manipulated by special interests and against what’s obviously the common welfare. When we look at the big, existential environmental challenge we face, and what has been happening, this becomes crystal clear. It can also sometimes be a good breeding ground for comedy, but in many other countries there's only tragedy. It even seems that state-power in certain countries is actively fighting for the other side. Until we come to the situation where the environmentalist becomes an enemy of the state.