Family love is a wonderful thing. But what is the boundary between unconditional love and unhealthy love? ‘Heart of Rose Hip’ is a short film that gives us a possible catastrophic scenario of such a toxic relationship that dismantles the myths of family harmony. Rune Abildgaard does not, however, create an incisive project that ostentatiously attacks the viewer’s prejudices. On the contrary, the tonality of the short film is rather tender and implosive, but it is this apparent painful calmness that makes the final revelation seem even more problematic. It’s hard to tag the characters as “monstrous” or “inhuman”, despite our instinct to do so. In fact, this “humanization” of the characters that goes beyond the rigid patterns of the classic protagonists/antagonists opens new possibilities to understand and discuss the psychological nuances that bind the members of this family. Through this compassionate rather than accusatory perspective, the short film instigates discussion, a deeper contemplation of human nature and, finally, the need to love and be loved. Not coincidentally, the central story about the desperate need of the characters to have their loved ones by their side is complemented by a somewhat counterpointing narrative thread that illustrates the valences of romantic love as an antinomic principle of parental love.


When she finds out that her mother is dying, Tea returns to her birthplace. But the spontaneous emotions she feels for Anton put Tea in front of a difficult choice: the responsibility for her family or the love for a man she just met.


The project does not stop at the surface of the events but hides in the subtext a series of other dilemmas to which the director chooses not to give an answer. What are the conditions for a family’s “unconditional” love? What is the line between desperate cries for love and emotional blackmail? The list goes on and on, and the magnitude of the questions the film generates largely justifies its quality. But Rune Abildgaard does not rely only on the subtleties of the narrative but offers us a project built with professionalism in which the image, the music and the technical coherence of the cinematographic composition certify a real talent. We are happy to award ‘Heart of Rose Hip’ at our festival, but we are even more eager to see what the evolution of the young director will look like.


For the homogeneous, coherent, tender, and impactful cinematic construction and for the dilemmas it evokes, without falling into the trap of ostentatious didacticism, ‘Heart of Rose Hip’ was awarded the Film of the Month distinction in the November 2021 edition of TMFF.