Hip Hip Hora: The Rage Of A Teenage Girl

in 27th Göteborg International Film Festival

by Nils Gjerstad

The Göteborg Film Festival is the biggest film festival in Scandinavia, with a great variety of films being screened. As the festival takes place in the midst of winter, with ice, snow and slush everywhere outside theatres and a chilly breeze from the river, it might seem a little bit unattractive to some. But the festival tent, which was set up for the first time this year, proved to be a warm and cosy place to spend time in-between theatre screenings, with short-films being projected, bands playing on stage, and a selection of food and drinks served.

In the Nordic competition program for the FIPRESCI jury this year, many of the movies were dealing with youth and identity crisis. This seemed to be a theme or at least a sub-theme in six of the seven films in the competition program. Both “Hip hip hora!” and “Young Gods”, as well as “Gemini”, “Gunnar Goes Comfortable”, “Cold light”, “Three shades of brown” and “Hiding Behind a Camera” dealt with this to some extent. “Tin-tin and I” seemed to be the only exception. A movie has many themes, but “Hip hip hora!” was the only one with a teenage girl and rage as one of the themes.

In recent years a number of filmmakers, not least Scandinavian ones, have depicted teenagers and their problems from their own point of view, in an attempt to look deeper into the mind of youths. In this context it is natural to mention movies such as Lukas Moodysson’s “Fucking Amal” (aka “Show Me Love”) (1998), Catherine Hardwicke’s “Thirteen” (2003) and just recently Petter Næss’ “Just Bea” (2003). Swedish director Teresa Fabik (born 1976) follows this trend, but also explores other interesting aspects of teenagers, in her first feature film, “Hip hip hora!” (aka “The Ketchup Éffect”). Mrs. Fabik is quoted in the Göteborg festival program’s main catalogue with the following comment: “If I hadn’t been doing this, I would probably be sitting in cafés, telling my friends anecdotes or writing angry letters to magazines.” This remark might be a hint that social criticism is an important motivation for Teresa Fabik’s moviemaking.

“Hip hip hora!” is about Sofie (Amanda Renberg), who in many ways is a typical thirteen year old girl, with rebellious nature, strong and confusing emotions, and, of course, curiosity about sex and an appetite for partying. The movie is set in a small community in Sweden, where Sofie lives together with her father, Krister (Björn Kjellman), who is a single parent, after Sofie’s mother died. Along with her two friends, Asa (Josephine Bauer) and Beatrice (Carla Abrahamsen), Sofie is invited to a party with the coolest guys in ninth grade, and they show up. After a confusing sexual experience with one of the boys, Sofie gets drunk and collapses on the floor, where she is sexually harassed by the leader of the gang, who is called Mouse (Marcus Hasselborg), and photographed with her underpants on the top of her head.

On the school, rumours about Sofie start spreading. Her embarrassment is amplified when the photographs taken on the party circulate, and eventually reach her father, who is also a teacher at the school. At the same time Sofie’s best friends abandon her. Sexual humiliation she experiences once more, this time on the school cafeteria, where Mouse clutches her crotch, and Sofie’s consequently slaps his face. It is however at her psychologically lowest point that Sofie finds strength, and eventually prepares for a mental and verbal showdown with Mouse.

“Hip hip hora!” touches many themes. More than merely being a movie about a teenager who is seeking love and acceptance, it’s about the communication breakdown that sometimes occurs between teenagers and grown-ups trying to be helpful without succeeding. Sofie’s father and her teacher fail to understand her problems and the challenges she faces, after she has been labelled a whore on the school, and consequently goes through a personal crisis. Her father has problems acknowledging that his daughter has reached puberty and claims that she dresses provocatively. In a quarrel he blames her for destroying everything around her, which Sofie answers by saying that she wants to commit suicide. Sofie’s teacher on the other hand fails to help her pupil by not taking the sexual harassment done by Mouse seriously, and just explains it as clumsy flirting, which also makes Sofia fly into a rage. In this manner, Teresa Fabik’s first feature film might also be a comment on male chauvinism as a deep-rooted cultural phenomenon.

But the most interesting aspect of the film is that it takes on frustration and rage of a teenage girl, without implying mental illness. This is rare, as rage is in general considered a male issue in movies as well as well as in real life. Even though Sofie is an emotional and impulsive person, she possesses a strength that is rare for someone at her age. From being a victim of circumstances, and getting through a process of depression, she eventually becomes the master of her own destiny, when she defeats the leader of the cool boys in his own game, namely that of sexual harassment. It is in the end by coping with her rage and emotions that she eventually succeeds in winning over the wrongdoer, by revealing his pathetic personality in front of the entire school.

“Hip hip hora!” won one prize at the Göteborg Film Festival, the Canal+ award, which included a cheque of 25.000 Swedish Kroner.