TSUMU – a Playground youth-documentary in development with support from the Danish Film Institute

Young people in Greenland claim their own future.

Tasiilaq’s 2000 inhabitants have enormous challenges, especially among the youth, where half of them have thought about or have committed suicide. 50% of all teenagers in Tasiilaq have been subjected to at least one sexual assault. The inhabitants, the Politicians and the media have all described the town as a place reigned by hopelessness.

Tasiilaq’s small theatre groupsits in a circle on the floor of the Youth Culture House. They are a group of eight brave boys and girls aged 14 to 18 years. Among them is a young man, the unofficial leader of the group. With glowing eyes, he looks intensely at the group and says, “We need to talk to each other. We need to open up.”

To the eight members the group is as much a therapy group as a theatre group. They have to save themselves and improve their living conditions, because no one else will.

TSUMU is a youth-documentaryin which we follow the young people in Tasiilaq, fighting for their own future. They are creating plays and theatre performances at the local Youth Culture House about all their dark feelings and talk to each other about how important it is to express yourself and have dreams. This is where director Kasper Kiertzner and DOP Jonas Møller met the young people during their research trip to Tasiilaq in August 2019. Here they found the three main characters for the film.

Our ambitionis to show a completely different side of the youth in Greenland than what we normally are presented to. Small minority groups are often overlooked and especially the young generation suffer from neglect and abuse. This youth story is important to tell, because if a group of young people in Tasiilaq can free themselves, create their own identity and make small dreams come true, then the film will be able to inspire a young audience. Not only in Greenland and the Nordic countries but also all over the world.

The film will have a clear youthful expression, which is one of the reasons why we gave each of the boys a camera when we were in Tasiilaq. Their own self-documentation is also in line with their own personal needs and struggles to communicate their feelings. The camera thus becomes a personal valve, but also an accessible and recognizable medium for a young audience. In addition to the boy’s own recordings, the director Kasper Kiertzner will be present in Tasiilaq over the next two years, together with photographer Jonas Møller. The film will be at eye level with the young people and the camera should reflect their lives and thoughts.

The project has been granted development support at Danish Film Institute, August 2019 and by the end of December 2019, TSUMU was granted further development support at the Danish Film Institute. In February 2020 Kasper Kiertzner and Jonas Møller will go back to Tasiilaq. TSUMUwill be created in collaboration with the young characters, as they will be filming parts of their own stories. Kasper is also collaborating with Nivi Bak Hansen, 23 years old,from Tasiilaq. Nivi will be valuable sparring for Kasper along the way. It will also be reassuring that she will have contact with the young characters during the process.

The documentary is produced by Playground Production in collaboration with Jannik Splidsboel and directed by Kasper Kiertzner. The film will be Kiertzner’s second feature documentary; his first “Stor Som En Sol/Big as a Sun” premiered in 2018, a documentary following the Danish band The Minds of 99.

The story of the Tasiilaq youth is a topic close to Kiertzner’s heart as he taught kids in the town for some months as part of his teaching degree. What characterizes Kiertzner’s work is how he sees people and brings them into the story. His baseline is always looking at who the film is for and about and tries to immerse himself in their world to gain insight. To him it’s important that the project makes an effort to create value for its participants.

Right now, the young people in Tasiilaq dream and fight for themselves, and over the next couple of years we will follow these amazing and powerful young people.

TSUMU is supported by:

Danish Film Institute

Ungdomskulturhuset Igdlo

TSUMU is expected to premiere in 2022.