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Never to return home

Everyone talks about Gaza and the West Bank, but nobody talks about Lebanon. I wanted to make a movie for those people who are feeling forgotten, says Mats. This is my gift to all the people who lived in the camp.

Av 6. nov 2018

The Tower radiates warmth, closeness, brutality and compassion. It is a fictional animation film that is based on the Palestinian Refugee Situation in Lebanon, from 1948 until today. The characters and the story are based on interviews and conversations director Mats Grorud has had with people in the Bourj el Barajne refugee camp, in Beirut. Through close personal portraits, the director is able to convey both drama and knowledge.

Mats Grorud is educated in animation, from Volda. He has made the short films "Julenissen" and "My Grandmother Beijing". The Tower is a mix of 2D animation and dock animation. This is an expression Mats likes to work with. He explains that dolls were essential in this film to feel close to the characters.

Dolls movie is my heart close. I like to see the surface of what it's made of. At the same time, I would use an expression where you can involve elements from reality so that you are reminded that it's about real people along the way.

The idea for the film came when Mats lived in Palestine and worked in kindergarten through a solidarity project. It started with a documentary film Mats was a part of, "Out of place out of time". The interviews with this film became part of the preparations for The Tower.

I wanted to reach more people, so I would make an animation movie. I wanted to provide a historical context through generations narratives. At the same time, I wanted to say something about living in a camp today and making portraits of the people who live there.

Much of the historical backdrops in the film are based on the book "What it means to be a Palestinian" and other books. The characters in the film are inspired by real people Mats met in the camp. 

The most important thing for me was to make this movie for those living in the camp. When you are visiting a camp you are there as a guest, and people take good care of you. Hospitality is far ahead; You receive but don’t feel like you're given something back. So, this was my gift to the people I met in the camp. In this way I could give something back.

Mats also tells us that these are people who feel forgotten and feel that your story is forgotten. Therefore, he also wanted the film to contribute to humanitarian refugees.

There I think animation works well. That you're able to relate to those you see in the movie and manage to go emotionally into it without thinking that it's just "People out there". To do this, animation is a good tool.

The story is told from the Palestinian perspective, although Mats is not Palestinian. It has therefore been important for him to receive feedback from Palestinians along the way, to know that it is the correct representation of their lives.

It has been important to me that people can relate to the story; What it means to grow up with war and what it means to live in exile and have your family spread throughout the world. I have met the audience from other parts of the world as well, which can relate to the story. That’s very nice feedback for me to get, because in a way I tell their story as well.

Mats hopes that the movie can live for a long time. That it can continue to appear broadly, and not least for young people, to contribute to understanding and knowledge of each other's background.

When young people in Norway look at the canvas as they recognize, I think it may be the entrance to a very fruitful discussion. I hope that the film in this way will help spread knowledge and understanding of who we are and where we are from.

The Tower is part of the section The Critical Room. Check out the event here (in Norwegian)