Making Sense Together (2018)

Making Sense Together is an essayistic documentary film that investigates the relationship between power and powerlessness.

  • Ellen Ugelstad
  • Ellen Ugelstad
  • Einar Sverdrup
  • Ellen Ugelstad
  • Hilde Olaussen
    Key Cast
    "Anne Lise"
  • Edvin Anstendsrud
    Key Cast
  • Stig Mass Andersen
    Key Cast
  • Harriet Lexow
    Key Cast
  • Leif Jonny Mandelid
    Key Cast
  • Christina Ørbekk Nikolaisen
    Key Cast
  • Andreas Færø
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Making Sense Together
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 8 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 5, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    120,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Oslo PIX
    June 6, 2018
    World Premiere
    Nominated Best Nordic Docs
  • Bergen International Film Festival
    September 29, 2018
    Norwegian Documentaries
  • HUMAN FEST International Film and Human Rights Festival of Valencia
    February 15, 2019
    European Premiere
    February 27, 2019
    In Competition New Norwegian Documentary
Distribution Information
  • Twentyone Pictures
    Country: Norway
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Ellen Ugelstad

Ellen Ugelstad (b. 1973) is an artist and filmmaker living in Oslo. She studied philosophy and anthropology at the University of Oslo, before she moved to California and received a BFA in film from Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She works in a variety of genres ranging from poetic documentary to music-films, hybrids and fiction.Her work often explores the thin line between sanity and insanity, the hierarchy of power and explores different forms of reality. Her previous documentary Indian Summer is an example of this investigation. This film tells the story of her younger brother living with schizophrenia. It is a poetic portrait of a young man's struggle for his own dignity and search for freedom. Indian Summer was nominated for the International Young Talent Award at DOK Leipzig and Nordic Dox Award under CPH:DOX, screened at Nordische FilmTage in Lubeck, and received two nominations at the Norwegian “Emmy-Award” called Gullruten. Her films often migrates between different platforms and has also screened at the Annual National Art Exhibition in Oslo. The last few years she has explored the lines between fiction and documentary and her short film “The Meetingroom” won best screenplay at the Norwegian Shortfilmfestival in 2017. Her recent work includes the filmessay Making Sense Together which investigates the relationship between power and powerlessness in psychiatry and screened in competition for best Nordic Documentary at Oslo:Pix in June 2018. The Green Valley recently recieved the Golden Chair for best short film at the Norwegian Shortfilm festival. She is also a recepient of a five-year artist grant from the Norwegian Art Council.

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Director Statement

The last few years I have explored the relationship between normality and insanity, between sick and being well and the hierarchy of power. My previous documentary ”Indian Summer” is an example of this investigation. ”Indian Summer” tells the story of my brother living with the diagnosis schizofrenia. The film is a poetic portrait of a young man´s struggle for his own dignity and search for freedom.

Making Sense Together is a hybrid-documentary film that investigates the relationship between power and powerlessness. I want to shed light on power structures in thehealthcaresystem. I have used my experiences from the personal journey with ”Indian Summer”, but at the same time explored structural power, told through the perspective of both patients, their families and people working in the field. I have studied anthropology and I´m inspired by this way of thinking and framing the world. In this film I isolate one area; power and powerlessness. The documentary-essay is also called a film that thinks and a film that reflects.
Closed psychiatric care is the most dictatorial part of society, through which a patient can have all their rights taken from them. There is too little openness when it comes to knowledge about closed environments with defined power hierarchies. Pyschologist Zimbardos ”Standford Prison Experiment” is one example. Ordinary students were divided into the roles of Prisoner and Guard and put in a prison-like environment. The brutality of the Guards and the suffering of the Prisoners was so intense that the experiment was terminated after only six days. The study provided a graphic illustration of the power of situations to shape individuals' behaviour.

The relationship between power and powerlessness is complex. Patients can feel without power, but healthworkers can feel powerless when they can´t provide the help that the patient need because limited resources. A lot of times they have to choose the less of two evils. For example between belts or exercise medical coercion. The closest family can feel paralyzed meeting the rules of the system. Because of the complex subject matter I will approach it from different perspectives. Both users (patients), family-members and personnel will have the chance to speak up.