Whilst the Black Lives Matter protests rapidly spread across the whole of America in early 2020, they weren’t just limited to one country. The situation within the US is undeniably unique, but in many ways it’s also a reflection of race relations in many places around the world. Much of Europe, with a history of empire and colonialization, has its own particular issues. Throw modern patterns of migration, terrorism and civil wars into an often-volatile mix and it can cause strain within societies. As is the case in Shorta.

With accusations of police brutality and mounting tensions after the arrest of Talib Ben Hassi, who is fighting for his life in hospital, it’s set to be a difficult day patrolling the streets. In light of an ongoing internal investigation, Jens Høyer (Simon Sears) is partnered up with a grizzled older racist, Mike Andersen (Jacob Lohmann), and asked to keep an eye on him. They’re instructed to avoid the poor district of Svalegården as they’re expecting trouble. Things don’t go to plan.

Shorta is powerful and muscular filmmaking which plays with expectations and defies them at every turn. This is not a straightforward case of good versus evil or right and wrong. Indeed, directors Frederik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm make a point of leaving the audience to make their owns judgements. This conundrum is wrapped-up inside a tense and brilliantly paced crime thriller. One which will set pulses racing and draws the viewer into the drama. Shorta is an impressive debut feature.

Shorta screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam.