Stereotypical perceptions of Greenland abound. Snow-white landscapes as far as the eye can see. Primitive living. People in sealskin trousers, catching their own food – when they are not drinking themselves to death in cheap booze, that is.
"Nuummioq is about love, but it's also about death and how we should enjoy life while we have it." –Mikisoq H. Lynge
Of course, the Western – particularly the Danish – view of the country in the high north is seriously warped. Now "Nuummioq", the first Greenlandic feature film production ever, tells the story of a nation that in countless ways is as modern as its big brother in the Danish Commonwealth.
"We're ordinary people who live and die, take the bus to work, pick the kids up from kindergarten, shop at the supermarket and go to the movies on the weekend – just like everyone else. We live ordinary lives. And that, we think, is something that has been missing from the general perception of Greenland," the film's producer Mikisoq H. Lynge tells FILM when we catch him on the mobile in Greenland's capital Nuuk.
Respect For Nature
It is these modern Greenlanders "Nuummioq" portrays. Malik, a construction worker, lives a normal, rather lonely, urban life in Nuuk, when he falls head over heels in love with gorgeous Nivi. But just as their love begins to bloom, Malik is diagnosed with incurable cancer. He now faces a choice: go to Denmark for treatment, and perhaps extend his life a few years, or stay in Greenland and die within a few months.
""Nuummioq" is about love, but it's also about death and how we should enjoy life while we have it," Lynge says. Their relationship to death may be exactly what separates the average Greenlander from the average Dane and other Europeans, he adds.
"Death is close to us Greenlanders, because we live in an extreme nature that claims its victims every year. We were raised to respect the nature we live in."
"A lot of people think of Greenland as an amazing backdrop for a film. All you have to do is turn the camera and you’ll be filming something beautiful. But for us it's normal, and we're a bit tired of just being a location. "Nuummioq" doesn't romanticise the nature we live in," Lynge says.
Greenland's film industry is vanishingly small. And because the country's few filmmakers don't qualify for subsidies from the Danish Film Institute, it has been impossible until now to raise the funds to make a professional feature. "Nuummioq" was only possible because Lynge sold a 49 percent share in his company, 3900 Films, to a Greenlandic investment company. The rest of the 560,000 euro budget was provided by a slew of sponsors, including Carlsberg and Royal Arctic.
"It’s been an uphill climb. Making a film is expensive," Lynge concedes, though he predicts that the job of filmmaker will be far more common in Greenland from this point on. "No doubt, something is brewing. More and more people are taking a chance on making a living in film, and no doubt "Nuummioq" is a spearhead. Hopefully, a lot of young people will see the film and go, 'I want to do that.'"