JUSTICE: Premiering at this year's Berlinale, Lene Berg's False Belief is playful, disturbing, and sensory-rich.
Ellen Lande
Ellen is a film director and freelance film critic. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: February 24, 2020

A playful, amazing and very disturbing Norwegian documentary, False Belief, got into the prestigious Berlinale’s new innovative program Forum Expanded last February. The fact that the film got its premiere just now, however, was not an obvious one. A hectic run with the completion of post-production while using all the ingenuity to raise enough for final funding, was made possible thanks to the very experienced team players behind the film; story editor and producer Ingebjørg Torgersen, editor Zayne Amstrong, sound designer Svenn Jacobsen, and director Mikael Damstuen Brkic. How tight the film produced via FABB001 has been about not being finalized is telling of the current support systems and distribution platform priorities. The feat is great but is overshadowed by the appalling persecution revealed. The film is desperately looking for answers but is capable of providing a slant at the surreally dangerous situation it describes.

Unique

This type of film is rarely cared for in all the aforementioned contexts. Also thematically it is of unique burning importance. Filmmaker and renowned multi-artist Lene Berg’s partner, the African-American publisher Mr. D, is accused and subsequently arrested, but for what? Already with the suggestive sound in the opening scenes, the documentary points to the connection with Harlem’s gentrification process. An absurd nightmare is conveyed so sensuously via multifaceted and different artistic approaches that we get the feeling of sharing the protagonist’s panic. What trap he has fallen into, and why, is among the film’s central and profound issues. This cinematic attempt at dissolution and interpretation fascinates. Mr. D’s similarities to Kafka’s character Jozef F in process does not limit itself to the name reference.

Cynical play

The experience of unreality and alienation in the face of a system that has its own rules without possible visibility is daunting. False Belief is a disturbing portrayal of a situation that persists. Through e-mail contact with the filmmaker, I find out that Mr. D’s appeal is extremely difficult precisely …


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