A Home on Every Floor (2024)
A Home on Every Floor (2024)

Genre: Documentary and Short Running Time: 11 min.

Release Date: April 27th, 2024 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Signe Rosenlund-Hauglid Actors: Hanna Asefaw

 


 

D

espite a television set playing an unassuming program, like it would in any ordinary setting, there’s something immediately whimsical and odd about the room in which this particular device operates. Everything is tiny. In fact, they’re all miniatures – carefully crafted doll’s models of household furniture, appliances, decor, and knickknacks, arranged neatly as if home to Tom Thumb or the incredible shrinking man (or perhaps an anthropomorphized rodent).

As it turns out, Hanna, a girl in her twenties (of Eritrean descent, though that’s not specified vocally), raised in the capital of Norway in the late ‘90s, narrates the introductory details of her life, having been born in an ambulance when hospital staff didn’t believe that she might arrive prematurely. To supplement her tale are additional sets and props, also manufactured in lilliputian scale, including the building exterior, the street, and the green-and-yellow ambulance itself. Soon, however, the fantasy is shattered when a human hand intrudes upon the screen to push the vehicle, or to prod a toy swing set. Hanna herself appears, too, to put a face to the voice.

Her story goes on to chronicle an upbringing of poverty, yet a life full of different kinds of richnesses – that of friends, family, neighbors, and generosity. In her public housing building (called Sannerterrassen, a complex of three structures), containing 155 apartments, she was truly raised by a “village,” as everyone pitched in to help with whatever was needed for all of the residents. For Hanna, one of the greatest boons was in her “bonus sister” Anine, with whom she could play outside, rollerblade, jump rope, and more – though Anine’s home life wasn’t nearly as positive as Hanna’s. They may have shared youthful reveries together, but severer elements, of which Hanna couldn’t understand at the age of five, demonstrated a darker scenario for the little girl next door.

This short subject is very much an artistic reminiscence, a curiously visualized recollection of an upbringing that would remain tremendously impactful on a young adult woman. Episodes of her childhood provide moments to ponder and to regret, as she thinks back on the facility itself, its many rooms, and the people left behind after her family moved. Yet it’s also something more, as Hanna poetically proffers commentary on the wealthy real estate mogul who eventually purchased Sannerterrassen, lightly renovated it, then converted it to rental units, each with a considerably higher price tag. Hanna’s poorer friends have been ejected for tenants with more resources, an evident driver of social inequality and a concept that obviously attracts capitalistic opportunists, while demolishing the memories of the children who grew up in a now distant, forgotten time and place. This thematic veering is sudden yet compelling, though it’s also questionable just how many of her remembrances of that specific living situation could have possibly provoked her brand of activism, especially considering that she moved away at just five years old (the adversity here isn’t of the kind that can be interpreted as unequivocally pitiable). Nevertheless, it’s a swift, engaging watch, boosted by excellent sound effects, camerawork, lighting, and music; competent technical aspects certainly aid in what could have been a far more forgettable glance at Norwegian housing policies.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10