Tongue Cutters

  • Solveig Melkeraaen
  • Norway
  • 2017
  • 83 min
  • Dutch Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs
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In search of winter vacation work, nine-year-old Ylva from Oslo goes to stay with her grandparents in a fishing village in the north of Norway. The fish factory there offers a traditional job for children: cutting out cod tongues. From age six, children are taught how to take heads from a barrel and to use a sharp knife to remove these delicacies. The village even has its own cod tongue cutting championship every February. At first, the city girl is hesitant and not used to all the fish and fish blood. But the experienced Tobias, who's 10, shows her how it’s done and soon she’s an accomplished tongue cutter. Along with Ylva’s voiceover and the happy intermezzos, the observational style and careful cinematography give this documentary a definite allure. Placed next to impressions of the northern landscapes, old photos reflect the area’s bonds to the past. In addition to the tongue cutting, other experiences prove just as important for Ylva. In particular, she and Tobias have a lot of fun—it’s their friendship that forms the film’s leitmotif. While the tone remains light, the two also have serious talks about their divorced parents. 


  • 83 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Norwegian
  • Subtitles in: English
Solveig Melkeraaen
Ingvil Giske for Medieoperatørerne as
Bautafilm AB, Hansen & Pedersen
Håvard Fossum
Mina Nybakke, Elise Solberg, Erland Edenholm, Solveig Melkeraaen, Karen Gravås
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IDFA history

Dutch Premiere
IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs

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IDFA history