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Kuannnersuit; Kvanefjeld

Greenland | Innovations

Kuannnersuit; Kvanefjeld is a must-watch 30 minutes film about a stalemate regarding mining in Greenland. The short piece exposes the pros and cons of mining and how locals in a village in Greenland debate such a universal matter in our said-to-be modern global village.

Spotted by: Felippe Constancio

Released in 2016, the made-in-Greenland film captures a “glocal” issue with authenticity and a touching manner. On top of it, the movie reveals the relationship of an indigenous community with their land with particular aesthetics.

A dilemma for a small community

Kuannnersuit; Kvanefjeld portrays the polarization of opinion in the small community of Narsaq. Located in the Southern part of Greenland, the village has the colossal Kvanefjeld mountain as a backyard where more than one billion tonnes of mineral resources have been identified.

Part of the people in the village believes the exploration of natural resources would put a stone on Greenland’s colonial past and give it a strong personality worldwide. Whilst others think the pollution and tailings would turn the region into a wasteland.

The movie is from 2016, but the talks are not over yet – and this is one of the many reasons to watch it. In 2021, the Greenlandic government banned uranium mining in areas with concentrations above 100 parts per million. The project was interrupted, but the mining company with the license to explore the place, the Australian-Chinese Greenland Mineral, is currently appealing to the responsible tribunal to review its decision.

As the issue is ongoing, three other additional reasons should make someone watch the movie: the nature of the problem(s) it illustrates, its aesthetics, and the philosophy it can bring. 

Read on below the film.

UK, 2016, Directors Joshua Portway and Lise Autogena, Producer: Lise Autogena. Documentary, Danish and Greenlandic with English subtitles, 30 min. Link to original film: 

The problem(s)

Kuannnersuit; Kvanefjeld shows how the current global economic development dramatically hits a village. As countries around the world aim at decarbonisation goals, international companies pay attention to the natural resources of Kvanefjeld, as the Greenlandic area can help to meet a great part of their demand for mobile phones chips and materials used in power wind turbines, for instance.

Therefore, Kuannnersuit; Kvanefjeld exposes the universality of a local dilemma, which is the big issue of small populations threatened by sudden and uncontrolled changes provoked by the global economy. In Narsaq village, the universal issue even challenges the way that locals treat each other. One interviewee in the movie says that locals are more careful not to hurt each other’s feelings, so people tend to become quiet at the crossroads of disagreements. “But what we really need is to discuss the factual circumstances”, he points out.

The aesthetics: simplicity

There is something in the language of Kuannnersuit; Kvanefjeld. Its journalistic work is framed within a raw, pure, and on-ground style. As the movie is about people talking about their people in their land, some scenes with the camera going around while a breath sound seems to want you to feel the sensation of being there. That is when the objectivity of journalism mix or even transcends into art in Kuannnersuit; Kvanefjeld.

The philosophy: a forgotten cosmology

At last, another reason to watch it – and this may be actually the strongest one – the philosophy found in Kuannnersuit; Kvanefjeld. This is about indigenous people and their relationship with the land.

At a certain point in the movie, for instance, one of the interviewees says she is worried that her grandchildren may not enjoy the local nature as she does. Perhaps, she means her expectation is that the next generation will understand they belong to the land, and not the other way around.

Shouldn’t it be the preferred worldview in times of environmental catastrophe?

If yes, Greenland may be already showing its strong personality worldwide.