Private Project


Tromsø (Paris of the north) Norway 1932

A red taxi drives in to the harbour of Tromsø, wich is full of life. Two men are playing the harmonica, and singing, children are playing and running after eachother, women who have been waiting for their husbandsa year or more are dressed up like you should be in Paris of the North, bearded brave rough hunters (all men) arrives with polarbears in leach and fur over their shoulders. It has been a great year, up north. Wanny parks her red taxi on the corner, and just digest what she sees. - What an amazing life, she sighs. She don´t even notice the man heading for her car. He opens the door and jumps in, as he gives her the direction. - To the beerhall! Then he turnes towards her, and becomes a bit shocked. A woman driving a taxi, and not only a woman - a pretty nice and gorgeous woman as well! He imediately starts to tell fantastic stories from the land far north. He brags and laughs, he flirts and puts everything a bit more fantastic than it really is, before he ends up questioning her; In four days I go back north again, do you want to come?
She looks at him, overwhelmed and confuzed, before she stops the car and respond; That will be 1 crown (valuta of Norway), thank you. He laughs, shakes his head, and gives her 1 crown, quite imbarest as he hasn´t remembered to present himself. - Anders, Anders Sætherdal, he sais. Wanny shakes his hand, and sais she already knows. She glimpses at his weddingring, and is soon ready to drive. He jumpes out of the car, walking straight towards Ølhallen (Beerhall) before he all of a sudden turnes back to her, knocks on her window and confidently confirm that he ment it seriously; Well, see you in four days!
He nods his head and blinks with his right eye, while he waits for some kind of response from her, a few seconds, then he walks to the door never turning back.
Wanny pretend she is not looking, even though it takes a few seconds too long before she drives off again. She has been driving several huntsmen, polarheroes and even a polarbear before, but noone has ever asked her to join them. As a real huntsman! She flies away in her own imagination, its like a dream coming true - some kind of fairytale. A fairytale women are not a part of. So far. She has to think twice, and make up her mind within very few days. Or was he just joking?
1932 - the world is having huge problems with economical crizis, it is hard to get a job, hard to keep one. And she has managed to get a loan, to buy her own taxi - she is blessed with work and money. She also has two sons to consider while dreaming of a future. Women never leave their kids behind, women never follow their dreams, women does what is expected of them. To be respected as good women. So, should she just take the chanse, and follow her dreams towards a life as the very first female huntsman?

In the middle of the crowd, at the harbor, Anders is working. He carries boxes, smokes rolled tobacco, and carries equipment onboard. He works hard, and sweats, he is quite effective as his time on shore is about to come to an end. In between he turns and looks over his shoulder, like he is looking for someone. And then, she appears, not like a shy woman who knows nothing about life up north, oh no, she walks with her head held high, with a huge confidence, towards the ship wich might bring her out on a new adventure. There he is, she keeps her eyes on him and walks straight towards him - and asks;
- Have you been waiting for me?

She gives him her sweetest grin, before a beautiful woman with a couple of kids appears right behind Anders. - Well, hey, this is my wife Enfrida, and this is Anja and Tommy, my children. Wanny nods, and smiles, as she is raised to do. - And this is Wanny, he sais to his wife, she will accompany me at Spitzbergen. She has obviously never heard about that, and reacts thereafter.

Wanny and Anders waves and shouts to their children, as the ship sails away from Tromsø. A teardrop runs down her cheek, it will be at least one year until she sees her teenagers again. Anders put his arm around her shoulder, she removes it directly, and say she will be fine. She is one of two women onboard. The other one is a beauty, with naturally curls and a lovely dress. She looks like a doll compared to Wannys tomboylook. She on the otherhand is prepared for anything, but being useless. She accepted to go only if she could be a huntsman, not a maid. And she is sure she will become a damn good one, as well.
The ship starts rolling in the sea, while the huntsmen onboard moves inside playing the harmonica and laughing. It is a party, the last sivilized party they will join for a long time, its like a last convulsion, before living their life on a deserted hunters cabin, for a year. "Maiblomsten" has been in harsh weather before, so has the huntsmen onboard. Wanny feels a bit dizzy, among them all. They laugh louder, speak rougher, and gives a whole lot of compliments, to Ellen. She is there with her husband (Hilmar) to be, wich is never by her side. Bjørnnes on the other hand, asks Anders for a dance with Wanny, and Anders sais yes off course. Bjørnnes is kind of famous, for being a very good - maybe the best? - huntsman of Spitzbergen after living like this for 15 years. Noone sais no to him, this is a man you should respect, and definitely support to be on the same team as. If you are not, it can cost you a lot. His arms are around her, his hands everywhere, and Wanny soon removes one hand from her butt, while the other arm forces her closer to him. He laughs, and she is more and more disgusted. Before the dance is finished, she smacks his face, and runs off the floor. Ashamed, even if he is the one who should be. Anders catches up with her ,holds her shoulders, and tells its ok. She shakes her head, its absolutely not ok. And he of all must know!

The weather is getting worse. And worse. The singing quiets down, the men need to help out. The sea around them turns white, explosive, sometimes the whole ship dives into the waves. Wanny feels sick. And scared. This is not what she expected. She litterary crawls inside, pale and wet, while the beautiful Ellen takes care of he like a nurse.

Wanny stands outside of the boat, she has been throwing up all night. And day. Nothing can stay down, and she can only stay outside, to prevent throwing up. All of a sudden she sees land, or is she just imagining? No, there is something there, she focuses between her eyelashes, it must be land. It is land. IT IS LAND!!!
She runs back inside, and yells out load; I see land!!! She jumps up and down of joy, and sets off outside again.

In a small tiny boat, they are on top of all the luggage for one year, rowing to Hornsund. They drop of the dogs first, then Wanny jumps out and pulls the boat as long up shore, as she can. Then she bends down, and kisses the ground. Anders laughs at her, shakes her head, this will be quite a different year. - This is our castle, he announces when they arrive to the small grey wodden hut in the middle of nowhere. - And I am a Queen, right? She grins at him, and opens the door. It is all dark, and smells like a mix of fish, fur and mold. - Fantastic, she sais, still happy to finally have arrived on shore.

Anders teaches her about the hunterslife, day by day, there is a lot to learn. A lot to do. And even more to understand. They prepare traps for the redfoxes, they build selfshotboxes for the polarbears, shoot grouse and bring out extra equipment to the other shelters in the neighbourhood - for hunting. Anders has a lot of patience with his "student", and he tells everything in a light and humoristic way. Wanny pretend to be immune to his overtures, even if she likes his company. She is here as a huntsman, nothing more.

The winter arrives with the brightest snow, before the darkness covers them endlessly. They are stuck in a "castle" of 8 squaremeeters, with three dogs, while the winterstorms does its best to tear the whole cabin down. Wanny still hasn´t got used to pee in the hallway, but the darkness and the polarbeers outside forces her to do it inside. Itś even worse nowadays, when she wants to take a bath. There are absolutely no privacy. Anders admires his companion, her strength and courage, but he never thought she would even shoot the first polarbear, his bear. Wanny jumps up and down screaming - Hurra for me!!! Anders looks at her, like she is an idiot, and she quiets down. He is furious, as she hasn´t made sure that the several hundred kilos polarbear is dead. He points at the weapon, nods to her, and she shoots again, before they walks up to the bunch of fur. - He is dead now, Wanny sais quietly. Anders turns around and head back to the huntscabin, while he mumbels; - Now you can bring it to the cabin. She stares at him, as he walks away, like a furious teenager. She laughs, inside her self and whisper: Hurra for me! Nothing can take her happyness away, she will damn well show him! The sled is full of polarbear, she is sweating, swearing, and skiing back to the huntscabin. She is so proud of herself.

Hilmar arrives a bit before christmas. He has got some problems with the boat. Anders goes silently out, they work together, and take it for granted that Wanny should stay inside doing her duty as a maid. She goes outside as well, she even helps out with the boatmotor, even if they both think she has no knowledge of such. Hilmar announces his wife, Ellen, is pregnant. And he also tells them that Bjørnnes has sent a telegram to the chief of Spitzbergen, where he asks women to be forbidden to spend the winters here, as huntsmen. He sees them as a threat for the society. Anders laugh out loud, shakes his head and rolls another cigarette. Then the quietness creeps in on them. Wanny is full of thoughts, she misses her sons, she lives so close to this man, but feel incredibly lonely.
And it gets even worse, while the men decides to do some work at the bistation (other hut). The quietness becomes a threat, like an enemy, filling her body with anxiety. Every sound makes her worry, and when the bearwarner they created, moves, her blood freezes. She don´t dare to breathe, nor move, her whole body is stiff - and her hair rises like the fur on the lonely dog in the house. She moves quietly in slowmotion, grabs the rifle, she sneaks out to the main door, and opens the shot hatch. Her eye stares at a huge polarbear, lit up by the incredible moonlight. He is a beauty, she stares at him a few moments, and prepares the weapon without a sound. She breaths silently, stops breathing. There, in the middle. She shoots. Her adrenalin runs crazy, and in one move she Closes the shot hatch, hurries back into the castle, closes the door - she even moves the table in front of it. Her heart beats rapidly and loudly in the silent cabin. She stops, stands still, just listening - and all she can hear is her own heart. Bom bom, bom bom. And the wind. For four hours she stares at the door, she is too afraid to open it, or should she? Several times she is on her way, but she doubt she can manage to fight a 500 kilos polarbear. - But he must be dead by now...or? The quietness is killing her, when she finally hears the sound of skis outside. Or is it? Anders and Hilmar arrives, all is pitch black and the wind removes all traces in the snow, in just a few seconds. She opens the door, she is full of words, but have lost them all. What she expresses scares the men, as they barely can understand her. They turn around, and walks the way she points, and almost tumble over the fury white snow. Stone dead. A polar bear, almost three meters from tale to nose. Anders is amazed, Wanny can´t keep quiet, and they all start to work on the dead body. Wanny cooks the most delicious polarbearbeefs, Anders open the medicinecabinet, and serves the nicest drops of Cognac. They are all very happy and joyful, cheering and telling amazing stories from life way above the Arctic circle.

The morning after, Wanny sneaks out from the arms of Anders, as quiet as possible. She had to share the bed with him, as long as Hilmar is here. The door creeks, and Anders asks with a groggy dark voice; Where are you, my doll? Wanny sits down on the bucket, pees as silently as possible, an shakes her head. She whispers to herself; - My doll, what does he imagine, I am a doll! They are hunters, way up north, hunting buddies, nothing more, nothing less. She repeats for herself, quietly, my doll, my doll...she shakes her head, and smiles inside herself while she walks back in.
Christmas came and went, besides porridge this day was like the other. He gave her a white fox tale, and she prepared cufflinks from reindeerhorns, to him. Magnesiumbombs and a tiny piece of film, made this moment live forever. Then birds started to arrive, the sun came back, and the foxtraps were emptied regularly. It had been a great year, for the hunting buddies, well maybe a little bit more than hunting buddies. She realized that, when she almost lost him, during a dramatic trip to one of the neighbor cabins. Life without this man is impossible, she don´t want to live without him - and she didn´t see it until he fell in a crevasse. When life turns, and a hard year comes to an end she sees it clearly. For the first time in a year, they talk about feelings, about longing home, lonelyness - and a possible future.
Wanny and Anders stands side by side, while the ship arrives in Tromsø. He has his arm around her. A lot has changed, in a year. Inside. She can´t stop waving, can´t stop crying, she is thrilled to be back and sad, because it is the end of a fairytale. All of a sudden she discovers her sons cheering and waiving at her, from where they sell fish. - There they are, she smiles with her tears running down her cheeks. The doc is full of people, some children chasing eachother, others hiding behind their mums dresses, quite scared of the "foreign" bearded men arriving from the north. It sounds lively, it smells even better. This is the magic smell of life on shore - of summer, of trees, fish, bakery, land - yes, this is the smell of Paris of the north. She wants to remember... and closes her eyes for a moment, he holds her in his arms, like he won´t let go.
She walks down the landing pier, puts her feet on the ground and runs off towards where she saw her beloved boys. Theres alot to see, but all she sees is them. A taxi comes around the corner, a bit too fast. All the fuzz quiets down, everyone stops where they are following the flying body trough the air, to it hits the ground. Anders runs down, as fast as he have never ran before. He swims inbetween people towards her.

  • Guro Saniola Bjerk
  • Guro Saniola Bjerk
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Writer Biography - Guro Saniola Bjerk

I have been writing smaller projects, documentaries and shortfilms. This is my first feature project.

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Writer Statement

I never thought I´d start writing on a fictionfilmscript. I am a true documentarist. But as soon as I heard the stories of the women who lived at Spitzbergen as huntsmen, in the early thirties, I became both frustrated and sad; Why hadn´t I heard these stories before? Why aren´t these women as famous as the huntsmen and all other polarheroes? They are actually dooropeners, for all women after them - but they never bragged about themself, they did just what they felt were needed. And I, I am a curious woman from way up north, I have worked as a journalist and travelled a lot, when I discovered these hidden stories, about real people, real women, who dared to follow their dreams and didn´t care what people thought of them, 100 years ago. For me, those are the true heroes! And off course, this had to be a film - not another one about Roald Amundsen or Fridtjov Nansen, no - this is a film about females who always has been a part of making anything possible - and any dream come true, for the men!