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This Is Not an Apple

  • Nefise Özkal Lorentzen, Director/Producer
  • Jørgen Lorentzen, Producer
  • Ola K. Hunnes, Producer

This image captures a vibrant red apple with a visiting bee on its surface, suspended from a branch amidst soft-focus green leaves in the background, invoking a peaceful, natural setting.

About the Project

In a neighborhood (Stovner) where the path to growth is often crossed by criminal gangs, we find the three Palestinian siblings REDA, YAHYA, and MARIA. Their lives were turned upside down by a treacherous knife attack carried out by boys they once called friends. A brutal act of violence that resulted in a trial, shadows of prison walls, and a heartfelt decision: to change the course of the future.

With Stovner as a backdrop, a patchwork of cultures and challenges, the siblings stand at a crossroads. A former path beset by danger has become a path towards healing and hope, thanks to ÅSMUND, the man who has stood as a monolith in their troubled lives. He, through "Líf Laga", has shown them that care and community can flourish even in the toughest of environments.

Through this initiative, called "Líf Laga", youths are given responsibility, mentor guidance, and an opportunity to connect with key actors in society. Their job is to cultivate apples and produce apple juice. Led by Åsmund, a passionate community builder, the apple orchard has become more than just a place to grow fruit; it's a platform for change, empowerment, and hope.

The youths, who have previously been labeled as a burden to society, learn the power of believing in themselves. They find this belief by participating in a larger project, where their voice and influence matter. The young people working at Líf Laga range from 14 to 26 years old, and they have various tasks. The process of making apple juice is bigger than many think, and the youths are involved every step of the way. They plant the apple trees, take care of them, and harvest them. They take hand-picked apples and turn them into fresh homemade apple juice. They create artwork on the apple juice bottles and wooden crates to store them in. They maintain the apple orchard and other local gardens in the area.

Líf Laga serves as the stage, not the protagonist. It is a source of strength that the youths draw from—a meeting point where lives change and new stories begin. The film intertwines us with the youths' lives, showcasing their struggles and victories.

Together with ÅSMUND, REDA, YAHYA, and MARIA have found their place among the 'tree guardians,' a group as diverse as it is dedicated, tasked with planting and caring for the apple trees. ADRIAN, with his Asperger's diagnosis, finds tranquility in the rhythmic care of the apple orchard. AYSU, battling eating disorders, discovers strength in every apple she picks. ANTON, scarred by the violence he has witnessed, finds peace in the whispering leaves of the trees. And HAROON, who has transitioned from a life marked by crime to this fruitful existence, now looks towards a brighter horizon.

Together, they prepare to share their newfound wisdom with inmates at Ullersmo prison, teaching them the art of growing apples, making apple juice, and, most importantly, planting the seeds for a new beginning. A total of 200 apple trees are to be cultivated in the prison gardens, with assistance from both male and female inmates.

The project at Ullersmo will involve a journey towards forgiving their attackers. One of the boys who attacked brothers REDA and YAHYA is now among the inmates. The siblings face a crucial choice: will they let their anger and desire for revenge take over, or can they manage to bury the need for revenge in the earth, along with the apple trees? Will they be able to look their attackers in the eye and forgive them?

The relationship between the characters in the film becomes more complicated as the younger brother of one of the attackers is also a part of Líf Laga. As tree guardians, REDA, YAHYA, and MARIA have a responsibility to teach the younger youths both the process of growing apples and making apple juice, while also passing on the principles and values of Líf Laga. But can they separate the younger brother's desire to contribute to the community from his older brother's violent actions?

This is not a tale of loss, but of rebuilding. A depiction of how even the deepest wounds can heal, how even the most brutal events can lead to growth, and how the hand that once held a knife can now nurture and care.

The documentary will follow these young individuals through the seasons, from the first shovel in the ground to the last bottle of apple juice sold. Each of them carries a story worth telling, and together they are woven into a pattern that reflects the heart and soul of Stovner.