Living Amongst Lions
Leve Blant Lover

NORWAY / 1998 / Norwegian / Color / 35mm (1: 1.85) / 83 min

Director, Script , Producer:
Sigve Endresen
Photography: Hallgrim Ødegård
Editing: Lisa Ekberg
Music: Knut Reiersrud, Reidar Skår
Sound: Gunnar Meidell
Production Company: Motlys AS
Source: Norwegian Film Institute
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Sigve Endresen

Born in Norway in 1953. He made his directorial debut in 1978 with the short documentary, Kølabu. In 1983 he helped found the production company Motlys, known for its documentary productions. He has extensive experience as a producer and director of documentaries. His best known documentaries, For Your Life (1989), and Big Boys Don't Cry (1994-95) have won critical acclaim and have attracted many viewers. The first recieved three Amanda awards and the second was seen on TV throughout Europe. He also directed and co-wrote the feature film The Changelings in 1991. In 1989 he won the Norwegian film industry's highest award, Aamot Statuette.

Living Amongst Lions records 18 months in the lives of three young people ravaged by cancer. Centering on 27-year-old Ingunn, 21-year-olds Lars and Kristin, and their friends, the film questions the value of life and the meaning of living through the thoughts and emotions of these three young people who face death together while still in their youth. "The best part of my life has come after being diagnosed with cancer," words of one of the three, lie heavily over the film. What suffering and disappointments accompany the knowledge that one has only a short time to come to terms with the journey towards death, especially when that knowledge is the background to light-hearted conversations with friends, crazy antics, travel, marriage and other scenes that could be from any young person's life? A documentary filmmaker since 1978, Sigve Endresen reconstructs the evidence of these young people's lives and delineates the meanings of life and death as he follows their hopes and disappointments, dreams and realities, peace and difficulties. As disclosed at the end of the film, the title comes from Karen Blixen's novel Out of Africa. Its meaning? Only those who face their own death are truly free. [Murayama Kyoichiro]

Director's Statement
"Did this really have to happen, in order for me to know, feel and understand the meaning of life"
(Cancer patient)

Those who say, "I am going to die," are suddenly alone. Most of us go about our lives thinking we are immortal. But by being alienated from death, we are also alienated from life. And it is not at all atypical, that we first learn to take life seriously the day we discover we are going to die. Death provokes change.
I have wanted to make a film about death for a long time. About the paradox that death gives meaning to life. And about how, by banishing death, by hiding it away in institutions, we lose an important perspective on life. I have tried to make a film about death that can be an affirmation and tribute to life.
Living Amongst Lions refers back to a scene from Karen Blixen's novel Out of Africa. She describes an episode where several oxen have been killed by lions, and her foreman suggests that they should poison one of the dead oxen, so that when the lions come to eat, they will die from the poisoned meat. Karen Blixen says that the lions should not be poisoned; they should be shot. When the foreman asserts that this is too dangerous and he doesn't dare, Karen Blixen replies, "Only that which can die, is truly free." Then she goes on a lion hunt.
I have followed several young people who have been diagnosed with cancer and told they are going to die. I have stayed with them through their process of learning to "live amongst lions." For me this is a film about their experiences, crises, growth and reflections, that can teach us quite a bit about what life is all about.

COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee