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Arts / Riddoch to explore Denmark and Faroe with film screenings and Q&As

JOURNALIST and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch is heading north to Shetland again to host screenings of two films exploring Denmark and Faroe.

She will host her film Denmark: The State Of Happiness at the Shetland Museum on Tuesday (28 May) before heading to Yell for a screening of Faroes – The Connected Nation the night after.

Both events will include a Q&A with Riddoch, with the Lerwick screening ticketed and the Yell one free entry.

The films – part of a wider series of documentaries about Nordic nations – see Riddoch visit Denmark and Faroe to find out more about what makes them tick.

For Denmark the angle is how its residents are judged to be the happiest people on earth, with the world’s best energy system and a GDP per capita almost a third higher than Britain.

Lesley Riddoch.

The Faroe film looks at how the isles, with a population of just 55,000, “don’t think small” and have a devolved parliament in a nation where there are high levels of transport and internet connectivity – including tunnels.

Riddoch acknowledges there is a constitutional backdrop at play, but it is not a “ranting” piece about how Scotland should be Denmark.

“There’s plenty in our society that stops us being Denmark even if we were independent,” she explained.

“This is really not a film about Scotland, it’s a film about Denmark.”

Riddoch said a big theme of the Denmark film is “cooperation” – something highlighted in the country’s voluntary residential school scheme efterskole.

She said this is year where teenagers can spend a year away from home focusing on a particular interest in addition to the usual academic subjects, living together and “taking responsibility for each other”.

“As a teacher explains it they’re learning what it is to be a fellowship,” Riddoch said. “Which sounds quite sort of religious almost, but it’s not – it’s civic fellowship that society is.”

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She said a lot of the problems we have closer to home stem from not designing in this “learning to cooperate” from the beginning.

Over to Faroe, a self governing part of Denmark, and its envied system of subsea tunnels crops up in the film.

“It has a lot on what the tunnels do socially for the islands,” Riddoch explained. “That film is called Faroes – The Connected Nation – the connectedness that it provides is quite staggering.”

Yell, where the screening will be hosted, is one of a handful of Shetland islands where tunnels are being spoken about a possible long-term replacement to ferries.

But Riddoch said Faroe has its own challenges, highlighting that there are in effect 30 councils there – if applied to Shetland this would mean a place like Unst would have its own council, she added.

The ticketed Lerwick screening of Denmark: The State Of Happiness will take place at 7pm on Tuesday 28 May at the Shetland Museum auditorium.

The Yell screening of Faroes: The Connected Nation is being held at Wednesday 29 May at 7pm, with entry free.

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