The Last Letter is about those who have left, but yet still remain.
Islands to the furthest west of Norway: Indrevær, Husøy, Nautøy and Utvær.
Siri Linn Brandsøy
Suneeta Rani Gill
What happens when you move to a depopulated island to write a letter to your deceased granddad?
The Last Letter is an essay film where filmmaker Siri Linn Brandsøy does exactly that.
The film is a melancholic journey through time and space, a poetical wandering through an abandoned landscape. It is a portrait of the islands to the farthest west, its people and a searching grandchild looking for traces of her granddad and the former residents in the landscape, empty houses and sea houses, drawers, cupboards, old photographs, archive film, maps and place names.
Through this personal exploration she meets her granddad’s childhood friends. They call themselves the last. They tell her about the time before her time, about the fish and birds that disappeared, and about place names and local stories fading from memory. Together they awaken the islands from their slumber.
We want to tell the stories of the last while we still can.
When listening to the last, I am often reminded of how we are running against time to make our film. They are all over 80 and question if they will ever get to see the final cut. This of course gives me extra worries to whether the film will be done in time as it takes much longer to create a film when making a living on the side. For now we travel back and forth between part-time jobs in Florø and our film project on Indrevær. The plan is to move to the island when we have sufficient funds to follow the seasons, the filmmaker and the last throughout an entire year. So far we have received funding from Vestnorsk Filmsenter and artist grant from Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune. We are immensely grateful for their support which has made it possible for us to start the development of the film and gather initial materials. Teaser and manuscript need to be made before we can secure further funding for production, and the more support we receive, the more time we can dedicate and the sooner we will finish our film.
The Last Letter is important to us for so many reasons. It is not only a personal endeavour as I get to know my granddad and the landscape he grew up in in a new way, but I believe it touches all of us who have roots in the outskirts. It is addressed to a person who is dear to me, but is directed to all those who wonder where we come from and what we can learn from living close to nature. The ocean weaves us together and the islands that we document have a lot in common with other depopulated islands and rural areas both in Norway and overseas. Once the majority of us were rural, and now we are urban.
The islands to the farthest west played a central part in Norwegian coastal history during a time when the coast was a center without a periphery. Now the islands are the periphery, so far out toward the horizon that we hardly see them. And out there there are still people with stories and knowledge that are incredibly fascinating. They have such a deep understanding of place and nature that I want to share. Near, humorous and poetic, but with political currents, the film is about loss – loss of people, loss of fish, loss of birds and loss of memory. The Last Letter is an experiment in living with the ocean and a discovery of what is about to disappear.
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- Siri Linn Brandsøy, director and scriptwriter
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