When dreams and reality entangle, Torstein identifies himself as a Native American Indian. Indian Summer is the director's personal story about her younger brother, who has battling schizophrenia for 17 years. While feeling trapped in his illness as well as in the hospital, he dreams of being free - living close to nature. The film gives insight into the daily challenges of living and trying to cope with mental illness.
ABOUT THE FILM
In 2003 Ellen Ugelstad borrowed a camera and started recording her brother’s daily life. The film follows him over a period of six years moving between significant places in his life. From visiting the family cabin on the southern coast of Norway when he is stable, to receiving treatment at Dikemark Hospital, outside of Oslo, when his illness overwhelms him. With poetic- realism the director describes Torstein’s inner world. His experience of himself and his symptoms become the central perspective in the film. Using her back- ground as a photographer Ellen Ugelstad has created an intimate and gripping portrait of her brother.
DREAMS AND REALITY
In 1994 my brother had a nightmare about our father being dead. At the time, he was seventeen years old attending the agricultural School in Sogn and Fjordane on the west coast of Norway. A few months earlier our father had been diagnosed with cancer. In the dream Torstein imagined our fathers despairing face. Shortly after Torstein experienced a psychosis and was transported by ambulance to Oslo and admitted to the psychiatric hospital there. Five years after my father passed away, I found an unfinished manuscript called A Father’s Narrative. My father was a psychiatrist and the text was a mix of both professional and personal notes around Torstein’s life - written while my father was dying. This text inspired me to develop a film about Torstein’s experiences.
“Do you want me to tell you about that dream? I had a dream that our dad had already died. I felt his pain in my body and imagined his desparing face in front of me. I identified so strongly with that dream, that when I woke up I was convinced that he was already dead. There was no difference between my dream or being awake. That dream made me psychotic. I was completely in my own world. My dad tried to reach into me, but was unable to. Sometimes I have felt my dreams to take over. They are so strong, stronger than reality.”
Excerpt from A Father’s Narrative written by Endre Ugelstad.
INDIAN SUMMER is Ellen Ugelstad’s debut feature length documentary. Here are some of her thoughts about working with the film.
– I never defined my brother as a schizophrenic, to me he is just my brother. I see a connection between Torstein’s psychotic behavior and what we call reality. Torstein’s inner logic is not wrong to me. It is simply different from the perspective that everyone else calls normal.
When my brother is psychotic he identifies with the Native American Indian way of life. I see this image as a symbolic means of protecting himself against other people’s power, control and invasion. Torstein has had the experience of being violated over and over again. Placed in restraining belts and having people make decisions over his head. Deep down he wants to manage on his own and be self-sustaining like the Native Americans.
In this film, I wanted to show Torstein’s story, his relationship to nature and his reality. I ask my self, who defines reality? Is it the person who observes the symptoms or the person who experiences the symptoms? Who has the right to define them? I wanted the audience to be drawn into his way of seeing and experiencing his life. This is the primary reason why I choose to leave out doctors and other experts talking about the diagnosis.
In a quiet way, I wanted the film to be dramatic. The story is circular to mirror how Torstein’s life developed while filming. There were periods of time when everything stood still, he felt trapped and without hope. In the editing process I tried to find the film’s inner rhythm and to express the feeling of everything standing still.
- Ellen Ugelstad
Dokumentary, 70 min. 2011
Director: Ellen Ugelstad
Cinematography: Ellen Ugelstad
Editing: Kirsti Marie Hougen
Sound Design: Svenn Jakobsen / Technopilot
Producer: Mediamente and Twentyone Pictures
Festivals & Screenings
Eurodok, Premiere 2011
Dok Leipzig - International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film 2011
The Norweagian Documentary Festival, Volda. 2011
Nordische Filmtage Lubeck 2011
Nordic Dox, Bejing, China 2011
The National Annual Art Exhibition 2012 (Høstutstillingen)
European Film Festival 'Integration You and Me'
Nominated for best documentary // Gullruten 2012 (Norwegian Emmy Award)
Nominated for best directing // Gullruten 2012 (Norwegian Emmy Award)
Nominert International Young Talent Award // DOK LEIPZIG
Nominated best documentary Volda // DEN NORSKE DOKFESTIVALEN
Nominert Nordic Dox Award // CPH:DOX
The Audiovisual Fund Of Norway (FFLB), Norwegian Filminstitute (NFI), Health and Rehabilitation and NRK