A short film about the accidental holdup of a tram in Norway highlights anti-LGBTQ violence, the multi-layered complexities of helping others, and the power of camaraderie, all in just over 15 minutes.
“Night Ride”, a film by Norwegian writer-director Eirik Tveiten, is a moving story that makes viewers re-evaluate their reaction when they see prejudice, injustice and persecution.
Ultimately, it’s a film about “standing up to bullying,” the 55-year-old told the Daily News, more specifically against transgender bullying.
“Night Ride” takes place on a frigid December night in the Norwegian city of Trondheim, some 250 miles north of Oslo. It begins with a woman named Ebba (Sigrid Kandal Husjord), alone, fighting the snow and wind as she waits for her tram in a deserted part of town.
When the tram arrives and Ebba is told she won’t be allowed on for another 30 minutes, she surreptitiously goes inside to escape the cold. Suddenly, the tram begins to move.
Just minutes into the trip, a trans woman named Ariel (Ola Hoemsnes Sandum) becomes the target of anti-trans hate as two bigoted passengers begin taunting her with terrifying threats of violence.
Ebba, who has also encountered prejudice in her own life, must now decide whether to ignore the injustice to protect herself or to do something about it, knowing that she, too, could become a target.
Tveiten, a prolific filmmaker who has written and directed 14 short films since his 2010 debut “Friendly People,” said he wanted his next project to explore social issues. After speaking with his producer, who is an activist for LGBTQ rights in Norway, Tveiten decided to address the issue of discrimination and trans violence in the film.
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Often seen as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world, Norway has long been at the forefront of anti-discrimination laws that explicitly include sexual orientation. But the violence against members of the LGBTQ community still feels all too real to some in the country.
“Night Ride” was shot over five days in December 2019. Two and a half years later, Oslo Pride organizers had to cancel annual celebrations in the Norwegian capital after a mass shooting left two dead and more than 20 injured. .
The film reminds viewers that LGBTQ-based violence remains a problem in the socially progressive Nordic nation, while also highlighting the importance of speaking up for those who are victims of systemic oppression and persecution.
The only LGBTQ-themed live-action short film nominated for an Oscar this year, “Night Ride” has already won three awards at film festivals around the world, including the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival award for Best Narrative Short Film last year.
The film was also one of the shorts screened in 2021 Side to side, an LGBTQ film festival in the Russian city of Novosibirsk. However, the party had to be canceled on its second day after “the audience was seriously threatened by a homophobic mob of aggressive youth”, according to the Human Rights Film Network.
“Just being at that festival meant a lot to me, because it reminded me, if nothing else, that there are still parts of the world where (some films) are considered so provocative and dangerous to society,” Tveiten said.
“I can’t believe it, but that’s the way it is in some parts of the world,” he added.