Experiencing Interruptions?

When the Clouds Went North

This is a speculative essay and interview-based film about data centers in Norrbotten and their connection to the mining industry and colonialism. The data center industry in northern Sweden has been expanding quickly for the past few years, and Facebook's data center in Luleå here functions as an example for the state-sponsored, energy-intensive industry. According to Facebook, their Swedish operations are run entirely by renewable hydropower. But where does all the energy and infrastructure in such a sparsely populated area come from?
We move to the mining communities Gällivare and Malmberget, where minerals are extracted for the electronics industry, among other things. But the town is now collapsing because of the state mine expanding underground. The cost of material extraction becomes clear: all the residents have to move and all buildings have to be demolished. There are now empty houses and piles of gravel. The wind blows between the facades and plastic chairs and other rubbish are thrown over the uncut lawns. Advertising signs for the mining company are hung over half-demolished buildings. It is basically empty of people except for the demolition workers and the last residents.
Meanwhile many Sami people, an indigenous people, live in the neighboring municipality of Jokkmokk. Here, the debate runs high regarding mines and power plant expansions. We meet two people who have been personally affected by environmental damage: the reindeer owner Henrik Blind and the Sami artisan Helena Lagerqvist Kuoljok. They describe the connection between energy-intensive industries and environmental degradation in their immediate area and in the Sami territory of Sapmi in general.
Helena shows some of her artwork and also talks about drowning accidents when the ice on dammed lakes breaks. Her work has a strong connection to the oppression of the Sami and to the Sami poet Paulus Utsi.
Henrik talks about an alternative future where modern technology is not in opposition to reindeer husbandry, Sami culture and preserved ecosystems. A future where we have learned from our mistakes and think more long-term about new industrial establishments such as the data centers.
Helena finally reads the first part of Paulus Utsi's poem Shoreless shore.

  • Hanna Thenor Årström
  • Hanna Thenor Årström
  • Hanna Thenor Årström
  • Helena Lagerqvist Kuoljok
    Key Cast
  • Henrik Blind
    Key Cast
  • Robert Thenor Årström
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    När molnen for norrut
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Art, Essay, Critical, Experimental, Environment, Environmental justice
  • Runtime:
    19 minutes 7 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 19, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    600 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Aalto University
Director - Hanna Thenor Årström