by Kim Goldberg – April 19, 2014
Where Can We Live?
Length: 42 minutes
Language: Swedish with English subtitles
Producer/Director: Hélène Aastrup-Samuels
Company: Eira Film
Watch the 7-minute trailer here:
Where Can We Live is a 2011 documentary film by director Hélène Aastrup-Samuels tracing the lives of two unrelated Swedish women and their young families as each woman, in her own way, struggles to find peace and safety from the toxicity of wireless radiation. Lisa and Linn are electrosensitive, and each has been forced to abandon the life she knew (including job, home, education, and city) in order to escape the nearly ubiquitous presence of wireless devices.
The director and her crew followed each woman for three years to produce a film that reveals both the logistical and psychological price paid by those suffering from this growing environmental illness. The final result is a narrative work that switches back and forth between the two unfolding sagas throughout the course of the 42-minute film.
The film opens with Lisa and her young children at their small off-grid cottage in the Swedish countryside. For many of us, this would be an idyllic existence. But when one is required to live this way—far from the amenities of the city, and with no electricity—it can also be confining. For Lisa, it meant the end of her academic studies and her ability to have a paying job, relying instead on her husband to support them all.
Within minutes, the film cuts away to Linn’s story, which begins in Stockholm where she is a computer engineer. By the end of the film, after several moves and job changes, Linn is also ensconced in a country home with minimal exposure to electromagnetic radiation. She is still a computer engineer, but she is now enclosed in a specially designed workplace with much shielding.
The director’s cinéma vérité style of filmmaking, in which the camera follows each woman in her daily activities and lets each woman speak directly to the camera about the impact of electrosensitivity of her life, ends up supplying us with a startlingly frank portrait of the full scope of electrosensitivity. (And, although this may not have been the director’s intention, the film is also an excellent travelogue for life in the Swedish countryside. I was ready to pack my bags by the end of the film.)
A highlight of the film is the “house call” from Swedish electrosensitivity physician Dr. Ulrika Åberg, who has seen more than 700 electrosensitive patients over 15 years of treating this problem. Recognizing that electrosensitive people are often unable to travel or return to a city, she goes to them when necessary. We meet her when she arrives by bus to visit Lisa in the countryside.
Dr. Åberg describes Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity as “a barrel overflowing”. On the bottom, she says, “we have metal fillings and other toxins from pesticides and other things.” Add to that, the ever-increasing radiation in our daily lives, plus the emotional and psychological and financial stress that results when a person can no longer function as before, and it is a recipe for total health collapse.
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