Burning Man (Gritt)
Burning Man is about the process of a troubled artist, Gritt (Birgitte Larsen), who returns to the local theatre scene in Norway after failing to make it big in the wider cinema industry. Here, she seeks to reinvent herself while striving to realise her distinct creative vision. It feels as much a portrait of its filmmaker as well as its central character.
This complex Norwegian feature is directed by Itonje Søimer Guttormsen. Over the past 15 years, she has been cutting her teeth directing a series of shorts and acting as the founder of the Oslo-based avant-garde film festival ByFlimmer. Her interests lie in the intersection between performance art and cinema, and the formal experimentation of Burning Man suggests as much. Across two hours, Gritt’s journey – a very difficult one to summarise – resembles a documentary, a distressing thriller, a social realist drama and a vintage home video.
Inspirations range from John Cassavettes to Olivier Assayas to Josephine Decker, and the debates around everything from an artist’s responsibility to attempts at seeking funding capture a broad view of the typical struggles faced by contemporary creatives. Unfortunately, so do the attitudes. The central character is largely self-obsessed, pretentious and prone to unwise choices, resulting in a picture that makes the works of Miranda July look modest. It may not result in the most sympathetic cinema, but anyone embedded in the European art world will be able to identify a truth to the film, following Gritt as she tries to form a collective, struggles with rent and finds her tribe amongst similar radical individuals in an underground troupe. There’s value in presenting gospel, and it’s especially appreciated here when it’s seen through enjoyable visual experimentation.
A cerebrally demanding character study, Burning Man is going to be a hard sell to those situated outside of the realm of contemporary art. But, those who have ever endeavoured in a creative pursuit that required operating outside of an institutional context will undoubtedly relate to the movie.
Burning Man (Gritt) is released digitally on demand on 7th February 2021.
Watch the trailer for Burning Man (Gritt) here: