HD Video for Installation, 25 min., 2011
Screening Version: HD Video, 13:30 min, 2011, Germany
Very short synopsis:
Is it possible to ever come back from war? For those who have tasted it, returning home doesn’t signal peace but a self-destructive assault of the mind.
Home is a place of comfort, of security and peace. Delve into the world of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffering war veteran however, and such notions drastically become perverted and uneasy. The home becomes alien and family members come to encapsulate the demons against whom the veteran has to fight. Appropriating dialogues from Hollywood movies that deal with the legacy of the Vietnam War and firmly implanting them amongst quiet German suburbs, I’M NOT THE EMEMY cuts open the ways in which a society engaged in war deals with the guilt of problematic returns. In a society that has such little interest in the faraway Afghan war that is fought in its name, how then is the war veteran ever to find any degree of acceptance?
Script, Cast, Director, Editor: Bjørn Melhus
Director of Photography: Ben Brix
Set Design: Felix Ott, Julia Neuenhausen
Costume and Make-up: Julia Neuenhausen
Producer: Yuki Jungesblut
Production Company: Limboland Productions
Awards and Recognitions:
German Short Film Award (Deutscher Kurzfilmpreis, Kategorie: Experimentalfilm)
Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, German Competition
IKFF Hamburg, International Competition
This work is part of a “trilogy” and can be presented in conjunction with “I do not belong in this House” (2011) and “This is my Home” (2011).
Approaching the topic of returning war veterans through its fictional representation in the medium of film the video loop I’m not the enemy (2011) is a journey into the inner world of such a veteran following the formal guidelines of the television soap format. Its point of departure is a condensation of the genre‘s main motif, derived from quotations in American English and translated into short scenes within a seemingly German living room. Melhus himself plays all the parts. The scenes are interspersed by images of existing houses. While a large part of the assembled quotations are taken from movies that are originally about the return from Vietnam, here time, place and events are left unspoken. The figures are place holders for the parties which appear in the acoustically cited films as antagonists. At the side of the anti-hero and returning prodigal “son” we find the “mother,” symbolising the homely idyll which appears quite unhomely, even eerily. “Mother” is supported by a “brother” who represents homely, benevolent but equally rejectionist society. Thrown in is the brief visitation by a “friend”, evidently an old comrade-in-arms, who appears out of the shadows of suppressed memories and vanishes again whence he came. What is more, behind the living room wall lives a hairy, reproachful creature. There is a ghostly quality inherent in every figure of the film except for the “son”. They are there and yet not quite there.
(from: Dany von Brücke, Introductory Text for “Live Action Hero, 2011”)