Shorta is released today in our theaters. Directed by Anders Ølholm and Frederik Louis Hviid, the film follows 2 police officers on patrol in a city on the brink of riot after the death of a teenager.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?
Talib, 19, a black teenager, dies of fatal injuries in police custody. His death causes a revolt in the suburbs of Copenhagen when two police officers who are opposed to everything, Jens (Simon Sears) and Mike (Jacob Lohmann), are there on patrol. Chased, they will have to fight their way to escape the riots. An implacable confrontation then begins.
Written and directed by Danish directors Anders Ølholm (screenwriter of the 3 films of the Antboy saga) and Frederik Louis Hviid (director of season 3 of Initiates / Back to the wall), Shorta (which means “police” in Arabic), is a thrilling thriller in the vein of Ladj Ly’s French film, Les Misérables (comparable in particular in terms of form: 2 police officers and a young man from the city flee a gang of thugs).
It took 6 years of work for the two young directors and the production company Toolbox to succeed in putting together this genre film for which a complete neighborhood was recreated so as not to stigmatize a specific city in the eyes of the Danish public.
Presented in competition during the 35th International Critics’ Week of the Venice Film Festival 2020 and during the last Polar Festival, Shorta is above all a film in resonance with current events. The feature film opens with a scene where a young man, held down by a policeman, repeats several times “I can not breath anymore“.
However, if this scene necessarily brings to mind the images of the death of George Floyd, it is a simple coincidence since the opening of the film was written before the tragic events.
The duo of filmmakers was also inspired by a Danish affair dating from 1992. On New Year’s Eve, a far-left activist was brutalized by the police and had serious consequences.
Understand the reason for everyone’s actions
In the feature film’s press kit, the directors specify that by starting to work on Shorta, the themes already weighed heavily in their minds: “We never imagined that the story we were about to tell would become even more relevant in the years to come.
We believe in the power of cinema as a way to provoke thought and inspire change. Our goal is to excite and entertain, but also to spark conversations on a difficult subject without a clear solution.
Our goal is neither to defend nor to criticize, but simply to try to understand the “why” of the actions and worldviews of these people. Angry young men, disenfranchised in housing projects, who feel demonized and misunderstood, as well as overworked and underpaid police officers for whom the same is true. “
Because the strength of this film is to present each protagonist without judging him. Whether it is the police, upright or corrupt, thugs or young people who want to get out of it but that society constantly reduces to their condition. One of the characters in the film will say quite rightly: “By dint of being treated like what we are not, we end up becoming it“.
A quote that could be the tagline of the film and apply to each protagonist. Whether it is the police officers Jens and Maik who, despite their differences, must ally themselves and assume the actions of the other, the young Amos (played by Tarek Zayat who is making his screen debut), his mother or the various inhabitants of the city.
A story of hope
The story takes place in Denmark today, where racial discrimination is a frequent source of tension, but Shorta could have been shot in any suburb.
Ølholm and Hviid underline that their film finds its roots in William Friedkin, Sidney Lumet or Walter Hill and “to their crisp and complex antihero thrillers of the 70s and 80s. But also to filmmakers like Spike Lee and Mathieu Kassovitz, whose works simmer with anger, indignation and challenge to finally deliver a strong social commentary with a …