In Europe today we take for granted the rights of children to have a childhood. Education is mandatory, for the vast majority, up until the age of 16 (or thereabouts). However, for millions of young people across the world this isn’t the case. This focus on learning has only really been in place since the end of World War II. Up until then it was highly dependent on your social class, wealth and gender. In As in Heaven, one teenager faces a nervous wait to ascertain her future.
In the late nineteenth century, Lise (Flora Ofelia Hofmann Lindahl) lives with her family, including numerous younger siblings, on their rural Danish farm. Although her father, who is largely absent, doesn’t agree, she’s about to go away to school. However, when her mother goes into a complicated labour this bright future is put in doubt. Their fate is in the hands of their highly superstitious housekeeper (Kirsten Olesen), who refuses to call a doctor.
As in Heaven is a beautifully shot historical drama which tackles issues that are still prevalent in certain parts of the world today. As recent events have highlighted, the right of an education for girls is still far from guaranteed. Lindahl impresses as the lead, her face telling a thousand stories. Marcel Zyskind’s beautiful cinematography captures both the bright days of youth and the fragility of mortality. As in Heaven is an assured debut feature from Tea Lindeburg.
As in Heaven screens at Toronto International Film Festival.