bck Høg Standard presents: The Play of Everyman

Høg Standard presents: The Play of Everyman

Thomas Østbye


Every person has the right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained. Natural resources shall be managed… which will safeguard this right for future generations as well.

(§112, The Norwegian Constitution)
In Norway’s first and only climate trial, environmental organizations took the state to court for breaching its people’s human rights by granting oil licenses in the Arctic. The Play of Everyman is a forceful and stringent Direct Cinema portrayal, examining the seminal case exclusively through the courtroom proceedings. 
Norway flaunts an image of sustainability and care for the environment to the world. At the same time Norway ranks as the 7th highest exporter of carbon dioxide in the world. These paradoxes are unveiled in unnerving detail in Thomas Østbye’s direct cinema study. 
Is the high level of trust Norwegians have in their authorities justified as the existential threats of climate and ecological breakdown escalate? Are its courts able to pass judgment on what its politicians are unwilling to undertake?
The final judgment of the Supreme Court, passed in late 2020: 
The door has been closed on climate trials in Norway. When the courts abdicate, the issue is left to the verdict of history. We don’t know yet, it might be harsh.”  (Hans Petter Graver, Professor of Law)
“…a poignant picture of the authorities’ reluctance to act… It is easy to get mired in despondency after watching Østbye’s film, a veritable tragedy with lingering close-ups of faces that evoke Carl Th. Dreyer’s classic The Passion of Joan of Arc from 1928. Østbye presents the various people involved in the trial with extreme clarity – the camera’s gaze scrutinizes them closely, holding them accountable.”   
“…in The Play of Everyman, loftiness and banality meet in a striking and shattering fashion. Even though Thomas Østbye’s film appears to simply present its material, a testimony of what took place in the Norwegian legal system in 2019 and 2020, in the final analysis The Play of Everyman displays the Norwegian life lie. The courtrooms of Oslo become both theatres where a strange play is enacted, and dissection halls where the Norwegian body politic is cut open to reveal its trembling interior. By this extreme simplicity, Thomas Østbye manages not only to question the way the authorities relate to climate issues and the future of the entire globe, but to depict some of the details of the juridical theatre of the court case. It’s about power, it’s about self-understanding, and it’s about perspectives. Then simple techniques are often the most effective and frightening.”
(Gunnar Iversen, Professor of Film Aesthetics and History, Z) 
Thomas A Østbye is known to combine artistic reflections on the documentary genre with contemporary political dilemmas. He made his mark with documentaries and installations like Imagining EmanuelThingsHUMAN, Change Mummified, Parallel Action, 17000 Islands, In your dreams and received a number of awards. Østbye runs the production company PlymSerafin.
Plymserafin - The Play of Everyman