Hot Docs 2021: “Generation Utøya “

Rating: 4 out of 5.

No words can describe the horror victims of mass shootings go through, their thoughts and the fear of being their last day alive. The question if they’ll ever see their loved ones again. Just thinking about it as I write gives me chills. Imagine what happens to the victims’ families when they arrive at the horrifying crime scene to identify the body of their son, daughter, brother, sister or parent. It must be harrowing.

On July 22nd 2011, it was a dark day for anyone with heart and soul. A Norwegian terrorist and right-wing extremist claimed eight innocent lives by detonating a van bomb in Oslo. Then, after heading towards the island Utøya, kills sixty-nine more people, participants of a Workers’ Youth League (AUF) summer camp in a senseless act of violence. From writers and directors Sigve Endresen and Aslaug Holm, “Generation Utøya” follows four young women who, despite being heavily wounded, survived the terror attack and continued their political journey in the name of those who can no longer speak.

We are introduced to four brilliant young women who, deep inside, are yet to heal the wounds brought by the terrorist attack. Kamzy Gunaratnam, Line Home, Ina Libak and Renate Tårnes have embarked on a journey despite being targeted in a mass shooting. They continue advocating for climate change, immigration and asylum, a subject matter heavily criticized in Norway by right-wing extremists. As we’re inspired by the courage and determination of these four superwomen, we learn about Norwegian history, the depth of danger hiding in society, and how threats are being used to silence The Workers’ Youth League (or AUF), Norway’s largest political youth organization affiliated with the Norwegian Labour Party.

The informative yet heartbreaking narrative of “Generation Utøya” reminds us of the importance of youth education, being open-minded and less judgemental towards those we do not consider our own. More importantly, it captures what happened to these women. For instance, their way of recovery and how they still struggle as they live every day reliving the day of the attack in their minds. However, by getting to know about Kamzy, Line, Ina and Renate, we realize how powerless explosive bullets can be when it tries to silence a loud voice that can’t be muted by fear, threats or misogyny. Despite a deep scar left from the tragic event, the women continue their fight to make their country a better place to live and the whole planet to be proud of their great achievements.

That said, there is a lot we can learn from “Generation Utøya”. It takes us deep into the Norwegian divided society, dives deeper into the issues and explains perfectly why events like July 22nd happened in the first place. Whether it’s the lack of education, social skills or close-mindedness, the community fails to provide proper education at an early stage to eliminate the hatred growing in someone due to personal insecurity. That issue persists, sadly, not only in Norway but around the world. The US can be used as an example that has constant mass shootings. Those committing heinous crimes seemingly not have respect, dignity, and love for humanity. Based on what is happening in Norway and outside of it, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. We can only hope for a reduction in crimes, but that may only happen if leaders like Kamzy Gunaratnam, Line Home, Ina Libak and Renate Tårnes come to power in every country. Only then will we no longer have to worry about carrying on with our lives peacefully.

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