"The Rich Country" How A True Politician Should Be By Artsvi Bakhchinyan

in 16th Tromso International Film Festival

by Artsvi Bakhchinyan

The title of the Norwegian documentary Oljeberget translates both as The Rich Country and The Country of Plenty. The hero and the star of this long documentary is Jens Stoltenberg, the leader of the social-democratic party and currently Prime Minister of Norway. The director, female filmmaker Aslaug Holm, followed him during his two-year campaign throughout Norway in order to win the voter’s trust and to bring his party back to power.

Making a film about a politician who just took over this high position (Jens Stoltenberg won the national election in the autumn of 2005) is always risky. You never know how this person will act in the future. But in this case it actually does not matter: Holm’s documentary portrays a strong and clear character, attractive in many terms. The conversations and descriptions show a concerned son of his country, far away from careerism, trying to do his best for making his country better. To gain this goal he needs the votes of his citizens, That’s why he makes his journey through the whole of Norway, meeting people of all levels of society, urging them to have an active part in the elections.

A documentary about a politician always tends to be boring, yet Aslaug Holm succeeds in making her film highly entertaining. We see the future Prime Minister cool and sexy in different circumstances of life, discussing not only the most essential issues of the country, but also the fate of wolves and bears of the Norwegian forests. We see the most popular Norwegian politician shaving, brushing his teeth, shopping, preparing food, changing his trousers in the car. Yet the documentary does not turn into a populist boulevard film. We see Stoltenberg together with his parents; however, the film never touches his private life. The camera moves freely, catching Stoltenberg’s journey before the background of the poetic Norwegian landscapes. And the audience, getting more and more sympathetic of him, rejoices in the culmination of the film, presenting Stoltenberg’s winning the election.

The Rich Country shows how a true politician should be. Many of us would like to have a leader like Jens Stoltenberg, behaving simply and in a friendly manner. But this film is not just about Stoltenberg. For the Norwegian spectators many things are familiar and the film could be too long for them. Yet for an international audience this is a chance to get widely acquainted with Norway and to understand one of the richest countries in the world. This is a great PR for Norway, giving hope and optimism to the audience.