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Eirik Tveiten on his LGTBQ+ themed Oscar Nominated Short: “It is about Accepting People”

What do we do when we see people being harassed right in front of us? Do we stand up for them? Or do we let others take that responsibility? That is the question at the heart of Eirik Tveiten’s short film Night Ride, nominated for an Oscar in the short film category.


“It is quite common that people in the Nordic countries mind their own business,” says Norwegian writer and director Eirik Tveiten, who is at the Academy Museum with his film team for a brunch event with the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. “They keep a social distance and are quite good at that. Things can happen right in front of them and people turn their heads the other way.”

The film’s main character is Ebba (Sigrid Kandal Husjord), who is waiting for a ride home in the late hours. It is dark, it is winter, and it is freezing. When the tram arrives and the driver tells her that she needs to wait in the cold for thirty minutes while he goes to the bathroom, she decides to board the tram anyway and ends up highjacking it. The story takes an unexpected turn when a transgender woman, Ariel (Ola Hoemsnes Sandum), enters the tram and a man starts harassing her. What now?

“To me, the film is about human kindness,” says Tveiten. “It is about accepting people who are different or choose to be different. We should let them live their lives peacefully without judging them.”

Initially, Ebba is simply watching as the situation escalates. A man named Allan (Axel Barø Aasen) starts flirting with Ariel. When he learns that she is not a cisgender woman, he makes a scene. Everybody watches in silence. Also, Ebba is now unwillingly in charge of the tram. As she watches Allan berate Ariel with transphobic comments, she is confronted with a dilemma: do I interfere or do I keep driving?

“To me, it is a social issue. It is about people who are different and who experience prejudice. And it is about the bystanders, who watch it happen and do nothing.”

Tveiten did not write Ebba as a person of smaller stature. It just so happens that Sigrid Kandal Husjord, who was the best actress for the role, is shorter than the average individual. Being short makes the situation even harder for Ebba, given that it says something about the psychological toll of an event like the one she witnesses: it makes you feel small.

“It is a little different for Ebba in the film, as she does not stand much of a chance against these two guys, who are giants. I can understand that and identify with that,” says Tveiten. “Sigrid is perfect for the role. She is a great actress and that was the main reason why she got the role. The fact that she is of short stature just amplifies the situation. These guys are huge. It takes even more courage to stand up to them.”

But no one else on the tram reacts. That, Tveiten explains, is quite common.

“There is a term for it, which is called ‘bystander apathy’ – it spreads to the whole group of people. It is the mentality: somebody should do something, but it cannot be me. I can relate to that. I have also asked myself that in various situations: should I have done something? Did I lack the courage?”

Tveiten got a lot of positive reactions from the LGBTQ+ community.

“We have had a lot of people reaching out to us, saying that the film represents them. That makes me really happy,“ says Tveiten. “In our countries we are pretty open to this community. But we have to remember that, in some parts of the world, you can get killed because of this.”

Tveiten, whose first short film was Friendly People (2010), has written and directed 14 short films. This is his first Oscar nomination.

“I am really happy that the people who worked on this film are being recognized for the great work that they did,” he concludes.