From the Youth

Youth is a time of great change and development. You may feel like you’re alone, but the truth is everyone around you are experiencing similar changes. And what is really changing are the times that we are living in. It is the future being made. It is being shaped now — right now, and all the time, often without us noticing.

“From the Youth” is a documentation of the present, for the sake of posterity. It is a documentary about those who are about to inherit the country. Who are they really?

This web site consists of five excerpts from a total of 35 stories.

Hans Edvard Nistad

— THEY CAUGHT ONE OF MY MATES the other day. We need to be careful now. 

His dark brown locks flutter as he whooshes past the warning sign along the road: 15 per cent decline. He’s skating side-to-side on the asphalt. The driver in the car behind him only sees the back of a baggy hoodie. A roadblock appears at the bottom of the hill. The skateboarder does not slow down.

When the 9th graders were asked to write about sound and noise, Hans Edvard Nistad wrote that that the worst he could think of was the sound of broken ball bearings. His only worry now is that his boyish pranks have emerged on the police’s radar.

Fuck it.

In the hills surrounding Odda, the apples have ripened. Summer flew by, once more. Hans Edvard has spent his holiday in the garage. The old Honda he inherited from his stepbrother has been given a new life, though the engine keeps on choking.

Prrrt, prrt, prt...

«Hansi» and his mate is pushing it down hill when, finally, the exhaust is rising.

Prt, prt, prt, prrrr...

The rascals are cruising along the narrow western road with freedom blowing through their waving locks — no helmets or driver licences. They are blissfully unaware that the cops are waiting at the end of the road.

Josephine Albrektsen

WHEN I’M WALKING DOWN THE STREET I can see that people are exchanging looks and whispering. They’re probably thinking, “wow, that’s weird”, or, “God, how ridiculous”, or something along those lines. I think there are rumours going around. That’s a bit creepy.

My mum says that I need ten positive comments to make up for one negative one. Having been bullied since primary school, you can imagine how long it will take for me to get well again. I often think that I don’t deserve good things to happen to me and that I’m always in the way — even on my birthday. I’ve developed an eating disorder. When I was 14, I was admitted to hospital for the first time. I almost died that summer.

It’s scary to think that I’m supposed to become an adult, who will have to pay bills, look after myself and live in my own house. I don’t want childhood to end. I want to hang on to it. Somewhere, in amongst those who are exchanging looks and whispering about me, there is always someone who lights up because I am tiny rainbow in their dull everyday lives.

When I notice, I feel like I have accomplished something after all.

Jan Olaf Hornstuen

JAN OLAF IS BACKING UP AGAINST THE DOOR with a gun in his hand. He slams open the door, turns around and runs away. A robbery yesterday, another one today. There’s more than 150,000 kroner in the bag.

All he can remember is the solitary cell, a doctor and Valium injection. A few days earlier he had bought 1,000 blue valiums. When he felt the cold steel of the arresting officer’s weapon against his head, he had only 100 left. In the courtroom he finally saw it all in perspective: the weapons, the madness, the fear on people’s faces.

– When I saw the surveillance footage for the first time, I finally realised how fucked up I was. I had been caught with my pants down. But when people ask me ‘why’, the answer’s really simple: «I needed the money.»

He keep pushing his body, looking at himself with bulging muscles, silver chains, clenching his teeth. There’s a tattoo of the grim reaper and drops of blood on his shoulder: it’s the beginning of a portrait of his dark side. Jan Olaf has received five convictions. The sentencing from the robbery says he lacks empathy, but Jan Olaf says that’s not true.

He just doesn’t give a fuck.

Renate Tårnes

SHE SEES HER BOYFREND MURDERED from a shot in the head. A few seconds later, a policeman is coming toward her over the hilltop. Time stands still as she looks him in the eye. Then he lifts his gun.

«Wondering if you’re out there. Sending you my thoughts, can you feel them? Give me a hint.»

Renate is sitting on a piano stool, playing Kaizers Orchestra. The keys are like a time machine. She’s leaning back, letting her arms hang along the side. She looks up at the wall, at the picture of him, and the obituary from the funeral.

«When you first meet those you hoped would become your parents in law, you want to tell about yourself, not how their son was murdered».
Farhad Mansouri

HE’S TELLING HIS STORY at the dinner table. It’s a story about travelling to Europe with a little boy who lost his father. They lived in sheds, in jails, refugee camps, and on the street in a country they had never even heard of before. But they found the boy’s father.

Farhad continued travelling north and waited for those who had saved up over a lifetime in order to send away their only son.

«Two children are smiling. One because the math test was easy. The other because its belly is full.»
«Two children are running. One because school over, the other to avoid getting shot.»

Farhad is writing an essay about the contrasts between rich and poor. His sister has served his dinner on the floor, done the dishes and gone to bed — in her bedroom. There are two bedrooms in the house. Farhad sleeps in the living room. It’s too small for four people, yet it feels big when it’s empty. Mum and dad are away tonight. But they are almost always here, because they have little to do.

The dream they all bet their lives on is a two-bedroom unit down south and a piece of paper with a stamp on it: «Rejected».


This is but a sample of “From the Youth”, a documentary project that began in the autumn of 2011. With support from Fritt Ord (a foundation supporting freedom of expression and a free press) and the Norwegian Arts Council we have created portraits of more than 35 youth communities across 6 different townships and areas around the country:

Who are they, really?

They are spoilt, enthusiastic, sedentary, naïve, busy, old fashioned and degraded. They are orphans, professional footballers, single mums, musicians and criminals. They are popular, lonely, confident, anxious, dreamers. They embody everything. Each have their own starting point, challenges, and goals. But together they make up a generation — and a diversity you won’t discover unless you go searching for it.

We have searched and we have found. Now we finally get to show them to each other and to everybody else, and we get convey the diversity of expressions between them. We do this because we firmly believe that acceptance and openness is achieved through understanding of communities and people who are different from ourselves.

Nothing is more important than that.
But it’s important also tell stories.
At the end of the day, that’s what “From the Youth” is.