How do you opt out of a community that expects life-long allegiance and responds to dissenters with brutal retributions? In Exit, Karen Winther depicts the hazardous struggle for liberation.
Right-extremist movements are spreading in our cultural sphere – from Sweden to Greece to the United States. At the same time ISIS and related organisations lure increasing numbers of people who attest to their willingness to give up everything for their causes. But what happens when one has had enough, when one recognises the choice as a disastrous mistake.
Self-exposure and access
The director Karen Winther was a part of the anti-racist Blitz group in Oslo before she changed sides to a violent neo-Nazi group. She documented her experience from these circles in her award-winning documentary The Betrayal (2011). In Exit she meets former extremists from Denmark, Germany, the USA and France, and, in sharing their background, opens up a space for both recognition and cognition. The point of view is liberating, avoiding mystifying and moralising attitudes: «The right extremist community was not what I had expected. We spent a lot of time waiting and listening to bad music – Viking rock. Everyone was paranoid about snitches and Mossad agents.»
The director candidly exposes herself in her own film. The topic of The Betrayal is extended in Exit, the focus of Exit being not the attraction of the extremist groups, but rather what causes the need to break out. Her decision to put herself at the centre of the film must have been a difficult one: she knows only too well that exposure comes at a price.