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Victoria Film Festival Interview: SUME director Inuk Silis Hoegh

SUME - At Victoria Film Festival
by Jason Whyte

"It is a revolution you have probably never heard of. Not a single shot was fired and not a drop of blood spilled. But in the span of just a few years in the 1970s the hearts and minds of the Greenlandic people were turned upside down. The sound of the first rock band in Greenland singing in their native tongue woke people up. The lyrics of SUME introduced words like "oppression" and "revolution" to the Greenlandic language, and inspired the political figures of the time to take the Greenland policies out of the hands of Danish politicians." Director Inuk Silis Hoegh on the film SUME which screens at the 2015 Victoria Film Festival.

Is this your first movie in the Victoria Film Festival, and are you coming to Victoria for the screening?

Yes it is our first movie at VFF but we are sorry that we are unable to be there.

Tell me a bit about your background and what led you into movies and film festivals.

I am born and raised in a little town in southern Greenland and grew up in an artistic family with painting, sculpture, storytelling and photographs around me. I did not succeed in escaping from that legacy but ended up finding my own niche in filmmaking. I started as a cameraman for TV and commercials but after film school in England I ended up directing as there were not any directors active in Greenland. But I guess I would not have been satisfied with only photography anyway as visual storytelling and rhythm always draws me in.

How did this whole project come together from your perspective?

Emile (producer) with whom I have working as a creative partner in the project came to me with the idea of a documentary about Sume. I immediately said yes since I had always thought it would make a good story, but lacked the courage and initiative to do anything about it.

What was the biggest challenge in making the film? And the most rewarding moment?

The biggest challenge in making the story of Sume come to life as a documentary was the lack of actual footage of the band and of the period in Greenlandic history. In the early 1970s Greenland did not have any ongoing filmmakers or TV stations and all the footage of Greenland from that time had been shot by mostly danish crews coming for short visits.

But from many detours and rewritings of the script Emile put his back into collecting 8mm film from peoples private home film collections, and in the editing we realized how amazing that footage really was if we could incorporate it as bits of reality from Greenland life in the period.

What keeps you going while making a movie? How much coffee?

Coffee is a must, but I get easily stressed so good planning is key.

I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

It was important for me being my first feature length documentary to get some experienced people aboard to lean on and chip in with ideas. We were lucky to get one of the finest cinematographers from Denmark aboard. One of the strengths of cinematographer Henrik Bohn Ipsen is his energy and getting things done on documentary films all over the world. The movie was shot on Canon 5D cameras. It is a cheap solution, and sometimes a pain to work with at it is made for still photography. But the lenses and images that comes out are for me very filmic, with a narrow point of focus.

After a lot of filming of the band in the present though, we decided to focus visual story almost solely on the 1970s, so a lot of scenes ended up staying on the hard discs. I think that the films visual style, a mix of Ipsen interview scenes and shots from the present and other quite raw footage from an array of mostly amateur crew were joined really nicely bit by bit by our fantastic editor Per K. Kirkegaard.

I would love to hear about the journey this movie has had on the fest circuit, and the plans you have for the movie after it plays in Victoria.

The film premiered in Greenland in September, but had its international premiere at Imagine Native in Toronto where in won two awards in late October. We have released the film theatrically in Denmark since then, and now we are preparing for the European premiere, which will take place on February 10th at Berlin International Film Festival which is one of the biggest film festivals in the world.

There are a lot filmmakers, especially up-and-comers, reading our site. I was curious if you had any advice to aspiring filmmakers?

Hold on to what you believe in, but get feedback on your script many times!

And finally, what would you say is your favorite movie?

I mostly dig realistic non-genre films from all over the world. But I love APOCALYPTO by Mel Gibson. An action movie set in the ancient mayan culture and in their own language. Maybe because I feel some sort of kinship with an unspoiled indigenous people living close to nature. It wakes a feeling in me of being a son of the earth or something.

For additional information on the Victoria Film Festival including screening times, ticketing information and other events happening around the city in the next ten days, point your browser to

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @jasonwhyte for live updates throughout the fest including Instagram updates, commentary and links to upcoming interviews and coverage. If you see me in line, please say hi!

Jason Whyte,

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 02/07/15 04:42:40
last updated: 02/07/15 04:46:10
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