LIMBOLAND is the first feature length film by Jeremy Weller. Commisoned by Zentropa Films and Produced by Lars Von Trier, the film was a critical success in Denmark where it recieved the industries highest honour – Danish Academy Award (Robert Prize) for Best Film 2011.
LIMBOLAND is a distinctive film-, education- and integration project. Through the last couple of years there has been an ongoing focus on people who have sought refuge here in Denmark.We have decided, therefore, to undertake an effort to get to know these groups of people better, these groups we normally identify as “the others” – refugees, immigrants and new Danish citizens.We will especially focus upon the young people from these groups, that through misunderstandings, cultural differences etc. now find themselves on the edge of Danish society that comprises of the norms we habitually lay as bases for our social code of order and the community that we are all proud to contribute too.
We will tell a story that can travel around Denmark and Scandinavia and that can aid in bridging the gap between “them” and us. We will expand people’s horizon and create dialogue with the media made for this purpose.
The film’s narrative will focus on the young people who feel rejected by society and the society itself which finds it difficult to integrate these young people when antagonism and misfortunes often overshadow even the best intentions from either side.But the film and the story should not be generated in the traditional way and should not exist just as a one-off film production.
We want more.We want to use the project as an integration opportunity. A proposition for the future possibility of the young people, by making it as personal as it is educational and enabling a spring-board to greater self-esteem, and also helping show a society that they until now most of all had seen as an opponent and perhaps in the future more drastically as enemies.The young find themselves in a kind of LIMBOLAND. The past is packed with unbelievable and rough experiences where only few can imagine that you can survive the aftermath of this life.The present time is pure survival in a pretty lonely world, and the future is nothing that you talk about because you don’t believe in it.
Project LIMBOLAND will, through workshops with the young people and professional actors, film crew, teachers, psychologists and social workers, create an exclusive, never-before-seen project that melds a strong and real film together with seminars where the young people present the film around Denmark as well as engage in a 3 year education on Zentropa.The young people receive in this project a unique opportunity to be able to create a better and brighter future for them.The film is produced with support from The Danish Film Institute, Talentpuljen, as well as Danish and international TV stations. The film has its premiere through the distribution company SF Film all over Denmark and in the greater Scandinavian cities. To be successful with the film’s afterlife the young people travel with the film and we prepare school material, workshops and the education of the young people. This, however, requires economical support from a row of socially aware communities, ministries, funds, companies and institutions.Only through a support like that are we able to create this vital project.
“Watching the actors was like seeing fragments of their lives being recreated before my eyes. Limboland is one of the most exciting projects Zentropa has produced for many years .I have never seen performances like it; they achieved a truth and raw anger that was deeply shocking. Weller’s work deals with the world of the other in a new and terrifying way. His art creates a way to expose and express the experiences of the world’s underclass.”
Lars Von Trier
Can those we see as other find a place, a home amongst us? Can they live at peace with us, and with themselves?
This is the question that confronts a group of second generation immigrants in Jeremy Weller’s controversial new film, ‘LIMBOLAND’. A group of young, non-professional actors tell the story of their struggle to tread the path between conflicting cultures; the culture that brought them into the world, and the alien culture that surrounds them. Angry and confused, they are caught in the no-mans-land between the opposing cultures in a desperate struggle for their own identity that will ultimately lead to tragedy.
Importance of the project
Never before has hearing different voices authentically speaking their truth carried such importance mixed with danger. In the times that we are living through now there is a risk of dialogue decreasing and orthodoxies building walls.To hear and see people from different cultures that live in a modern “Limbo Land”, isolated and pushed, answering the questions; what do you believe in? What do you feel? What is important to you – can never have been more significant than now. To hear real voices, speaking their uncensored truths can offer the clarity we are all so hungry for.Jeremy Wellers experience of working in over 20 countries and with many different languages has shown him that there is a great need for voices to be heard and people to be seen. Work like his can deal with vulnerable issues, build bridges and open dialogue.Fear of ‘the others’ grows daily. This film challenges our stereotypes and easy judgements and forces us to confront our fears with the truth.
Young people will be auditioned from all over Denmark and will come from different ethnic and social back grounds. When a final group of 9-10 has been chosen, they will be workshopped to develop skills and characters that are true to there own emotional reality. In the workshops they will be asked to share and explore experiences from their own lives, relating to themes and issues from the story. Slowly as the workshops develop so will the actors experiences and confidence. At this stage we will encourage them to develop ‘fictional’ characters, names etc, that will be very close to their own character, but enable them to have a greater freedom. Every work shop is filmed, and then transcriptions are made from the videos. These are then edited and may go on to form the base elements of the story.
Jeremy Wellers Method and Workshop Time line
The work shops are a time of exploration. At no point does Mr Jeremy Weller let the young people know the full extent of the story and the characters being explored. At most, only a very general story outline is revealed.As a result there is a lot of room for creativity and discovery.Jeremy also has the capabilites to remain true to the reality that he has available and is working with. He talks with the selected young people about their experiences and their biographies. He gets them to improvise from their experiences. He explores their emotional realities and directs them into new areas. Jeremy also encourages them to be free with their emotions. Once he feels the youths are ready he slowly introduces fictional characters and story lines and begins to merge their realities with these “characters”. All of this is videoed and later transcribed for inclusion in the treatment, as well as for script development.
What is most astonishing is to witness the power of Art deeply effecting changes in young people’s lives. It is a revelation to see the young people learning to communicate emotions and feelings that they have longed to express. Jeremy challenges the young people to act, to tell and to show their stories. He trains them to capture the raw excitement of the moment. Then, through the cooperative force, this is translated into drama. The work is real, exciting and dangerous, because it carries the individual truths of the young lives. These truths are often lived on the edge of society in a place without limits, without boundaries. This creates the “buzz” that the young people are so hungry for and that they so often only find in less productive areas of life”
Films from the Limboland’s Educational Tour of Scandinavia
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