Imagining Emanuel

Imagining Emanuel
(52 min) Liberia/Norway
[watch trailer]
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Wednesday, 10/24, 6:20pm (Session XXI)

Director: Thomas A. Østbye
Producer: Kristine Ann Skaret 


How can we know who a person is? Emanuel's identity is unknown, and his life is put on hold. Emanuel has an unknown identity and is residing illegally in Norway. He entered the country in 2003, but does not want to live in Norway illegally, and has tried to return to his homeland without success. He claims to be from Liberia, but Norwegian authorities claim that Emanuel comes from Ghana and have forcibly sent him there twice. Each time, Ghana has returned him to Norway with the message that he is not Ghaneser. Emanuel is thus condemned to a life in limbo, without a residence permit and rights, but also without exit opportunity. Through several different documentary genres, Imagining Emanuel attempts to form an image of a man calling himself Emanuel. At the same time, the film exposes the process of observing, and how credibility is formed in a documentary. Who is Emanuel? What is identity? How can identity be depicted? Who holds the truth? 


Thomas A. Østbye was educated as an editor at the Norwegian Film School in Lillehammer, and works as an artist, film director, and editor. He runs his own production company, Plymserafin, and works with documentary material in film, photography, and installations. His short documentary In Your Dreams received numerous awards and nominations, among them the Prix Francaise at the National Art Exhibition in the autumn of 2005, the Best Short Film Award at Bergen International Film Festival and the award for best documentary at Euganea Movie Movement. It was also nominated for the National Film Award Amanda for best short film in 2005 and bought by the Arts Council Norway. Veil from 2008, and the fiction short Human from 2009 were also shown at various festivals around the world. 

Contact Information: 

Norsk Film Institutt
Web site:

©2012 United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF)

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