6 user 2 critic

Vinterland (2007)

A love story about two Kurds in the north of Norway.


Hisham Zaman
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Raouf Saraj Raouf Saraj ... Renas
Shler Rahnoma Shler Rahnoma ... Fermesk
Kawa Gilli Kawa Gilli
Alibag Salimi Alibag Salimi


Kurdish refugee, Renas, is living in the very north of Norway. In a remote desolate house. In the middle of snowy nowhere. But soon his special princess, Fermesk, will be joining him. Though the couple has never met, they have already fallen in love from looking at each other's photographs and talking on the phone. Their families have performed a wedding ceremony back home in Iraq, and Fermesk is put on a plane. The first encounter at the airport does not live up to their expectations, however. Neither look very much like their flattering photos would indicate. Fermesk is now a much bigger woman, and Renas isn't quite the handsome young man anymore. Written by Signy

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis








Kurdish | Norwegian

Release Date:

17 January 2007 (Norway) See more »

Also Known As:

Winterland See more »

Filming Locations:

Balsfjord, Norway See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


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User Reviews

Vinterland: Cold and Real

This movie toyed with my emotions, as I laughed, cried, and shouted with furry. "Vinterland" was the first Nordic film I saw that had a predominant cast of minorities. It tells the story of three Iraqi immigrants, who have different experiences in their new country. Norway is known as a great of country known for their strong economy and social equality (including gender and sexuality), "Vinterland" addresses some flaws of the immigration policy and overall social acceptance of immigrants in the country. These factors can negatively impact the immigrant experience.

Immigration has increased tremendously over the past 50 years. During the 1960's, just 50,000 inhabitants were immigrants, while today the number reaches over 500,000. In Oslo, 25% of the total population in 2008 was reported as immigrants (80% being from non-western origin). The 1990's brought several immigrants from Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Today the most populous minorities are from Poland, Sweden, Pakistan, Iraq and Somalia (WHO). This recent influx likely sparked the interest in producing a movie involving immigration, and more specifically, immigration by members from the Middle East.

One character whom I grew near to was the old Iraqi man. He seemed like such a sweet old man, but later in the movie we sadly hear that he is getting deported back to Iraq. This storyline is not rare, since Norway deports more and more illegal immigrants annually. Just how strict are the immigration policies in Norway? Norway is one of the most difficult countries to gain citizenship. (The Foreigner). An article in The Foreigner explained the controversy over a new immigration policy as of October, 2009. The minister of justice of Norway wants to "crack down" on asylum seekers and had a goal of deporting 4000 asylum seekers by Christmas without considering the opinions of the United Nations. The UN stated this new policy as "inhumane" and I do as well. Also, since 2009, ships even have to apply for and receive a "special sailing permit" to be on Norwegian waters (World Cruising Club). It appears that the government of Norway is trying to limit the opportunity for immigration, and I believe Zaman wanted to provoke this discussion.

The marriage between Renas and Fermesk was extremely frustrating at first. Fermesk was extremely insecure, as her husband bluntly ignored her due to her heavy weight. She was terrified, as she left her family and country to marry a man she knew only by a photo and to come to a country with a different language and different people. It is quite common for men to immigrate to Norway, and then have a woman apply for a fiancé visa (UDI). This is actually more of a permit and does not secure a residence visa. This is why Renas was constantly on the phone worrying about Fermesk's residence visa. We later found out that Fermesk lost her virginity back in Iraq, and she never wanted to go to Norway. This fear exemplified the major differences between cultures and how difficult and scary it is to integrate into society.

Fermesk, however, found it important to integrate for her well being. She took the bus everyday to a school, where she began learning Bokmål. Her dedication was clear, as she listened to tapes in her home and appeared eager to learn in the classroom.

The final character, who was more of the main character of the film, was Renas. Renas tried sticking to his Muslim roots, conforming to gender and social norms. For instance, he believed in an arranged marriage, and he felt like it was his responsibility to work while his wife stayed at home. In her case, she sometimes went to language class. Renas worked at a job that appeared to be in a factory, with little opportunity for advancement. According to ¬¬¬¬the Council of Europe and the European Commission, Norwegians businesses have remained stubbornly white at the top positions (6).

Why were the native Norwegians portrayed as distant and cold? First of all, it is common in the Norwegian culture to "keep to yourself" and not "make small talk." However, I think the situation with immigrants goes deeper than these norms. An intercultural profile on Oslo revealed that there is a prominent "strand of thinking that believes that true 'Norwegianness' lies in the blood" (Council of Europe ,1). Even though the Norwegian people may be accepting of immigration and asylum seekers, many refuse to believe immigrants will ever be "truly Norwegian." As I think of immigration, I often link immigrants to cities and urban areas. This movie was an exception, as the main characters lived in Nord Norge, in a house outside of a very small town. After doing some research, it became apparent that the Norwegian government tends to spread immigrants throughout the country. This strategy has "been seen as a means of avoiding the ghetto development" (Council of Europe).

I have great respect for the country of Norway, but every country has some room for improvement. "Vinterland" puts the issue of immigration in the spotlight. The dialog and filming builds attachment and sentimentality towards the main characters of the film. It gives examples of immigrants who deal with cultural changes, worry about getting a visa, being far away from home, and the worst-case scenario, getting rejected by the Norwegian government and getting deported. In the end, the couple seems to adjust, but it is not the case for everyone. This film is worth watching, and puts the life of an immigrant in perspective, which can be connect to others inside and outside the Norwegian context.

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