Like a branch thrown in the water, the island Langeland stretches along the southern coast of Funen, Denmark. A branch that never floated to the Eastern Sea, but just stayed put. The landscape looks the same, as it did 200 years ago, when inspiration to the danish national anthem was found here. The fields are still seperated by soil, the old mills still stands tall and it's truly a beatifull place in the romantic way.
You have to cross four bridges to get to the capital Copenhagen, where the island is famous for it's picturesque village idyll and the famous sausagebrand "Langelænderen". And off course for the downside from beeing placed in the periphery of central Denmark. Schools are closing, jobs are dissapering and people are moving away. This is the poorest commune in the country.
But on Langeland, this is not something you want to hear. The people here are enormously proud of their small society, it doesn't really matter wether they just moved here, or have been living here forever. It's like that road you grew up on, where everybody plays together, just because they all live the same place. Some seek to be alone with the vast nature, some create new communitys across cultures. People with scared souls, and people lured in by love. Surrounded by water, at the outskirts of Denmark. Life by, the edge of the water.
THE HARBOUR BATH. The sun has turned orange and the shadows break when the wall meets the ground at the bathing establishment in Rudkøbing. A few are sitting on the bench drinking shots. One is standing on the roof of the freshly painted wooden sheds begging cigarettes from Linea below. Pia Sørensen turns 21 today; those are her shots. And Emma takes a dip into the water.
LEJEBØLLEGAARD. Søren Cilla lives at Lejebøllegaard with his two dogs. At Langeland he could pay an entire farm with his retirement fund. "I can live here until I die", says Søren, who has taken his surname "Cilla" from his first dog, who passed away.
THE STRYNØ FERRY. The little island of Strynø is half an hour's sailing from Langeland, but is still part of the municipality. When the Strynø Islanders after a long haul, got their evening ferry, one of the first things they used it for, was to come over and complain about the school reform. And they got their way. There are 202 people on Strynø - and 12 different nationalities.
STRYNØ.The school at Strynø, which doubles as a votingfacility during national election.
RUDKØBING. The young people hanging out in the parking lot in Rudkøbing, the islands biggest city, don't have much to do. Linea kisses a little with her boyfriend Cliff. Flemming, or 'MC F', as he prefers to be called, plays Hard Style Techno meanwhile.
MAGLEBY. Parish priest Rebecca Aagaard Poulsen moved to the island in 2013, newly divorced from her wife, with her twin girls. She knows what it's like to be at the center of the island's gossip column. But also that it doesn't really mean anything to people. "At Langeland, you are looked down upon more if you are disloyal or selfish. That's the two things that really matters. I've never met more open and tolerant people,' says Rebecca.
MAGLEBY. Rebecca Aagaard Poulsen comforting her daughter at night time, after she had a nightmare. She feels that she can give her children a completely different freedom when growing up on the island.
MAIN STREET. On Constitution Day, a group of men from the village Humble meet and put up flagpoles along the town's main street. That's how it's been for 37 years, and that's how it'd prefer to stay. Back then a group of entrepenual men were allowed to use surplus money from the installation of street lights to buy flagpoles. The men did the digging voluntarily. Just as they voluntarily put up the flagpoles today. The flag-setter war against Tryggelev is discussed in a cheerful tone. Their rods are shorter. "cake flag" or "eye level flag" is laughed at. As they say: "Everyone is welcome here in the city, even people from Tryggelev".
BOARDING SCHOOL. Clara Ludvigsen's stay on the island is coming to an end. She is 17 years old and has lived at Langeland Boarding School for a year. It has been one of the coolest things she has ever tried. But in a few days she has to pack up her room. The young people at the school do not talk to the young people on the island. "They drive a lot on scooters and call us fucking hippies. We probably are too,' says Clara's classmate Frida.
KÆDEBY. Benjamin Vessengaard Arnoldsen whistles gently at the dairy cows to get them to line up neatly into the milking station. It is a modest milking station, still only semi-automatic. And that suits Benjamin. He really likes his job as a farmer. "It's great to go on your own. Here, no one is judging you, and I'm not really that crazy about so many people,' says Benjamin. He came to Michael Bay Hansen's farm a little over a year ago.
FREDSKOVEN. Every year, Rudkøbing Civil Shooting Club meets in Fredskoven near Rudkøbing and holds their annual bird shooting. They meet early in the morning, have breakfast and march through town. Then they eat lunch and then shoot the bird. Both rifle and bird are bolted, and the competition only stops when all the parts have been shot off the bird.
BAGENKOP. There is juicy striptease, and the male waiters have had their polo shirts ripped off. Some are married, others in the family, but everyone sings along to 'Cotton Eye Joe'. "There's no one who will like it," Katja and Nina were told the first time they wanted to make the Girls' Lunch of the Year three years ago. At that time, 200 people aged 18-70 came. For this year's event, they have sold 300 tickets in 40 minutes.
HUMBLEHALLEN. 'The Apprentice' was already drunk quite early in the evening, so he fell asleep on a chair in the middle of the hall. Later he woke up and continued partying with his pants around his ankles. People just shrugged. They all know him.
THE FIELD. "We meet at the Humble church parking lot at 04.20. There are a lot of mosquitoes at the moment, so remember mosquito balm", Daniel Møller Larsen, 22, wrote to me when we were going out hunting. You sit completely still for 2 hours and wait for the buck to come in on your hunt. And only shoots if it is positioned exactly right. It didn't this morning. Daniel has lived all his life in Humble, but has now moved to Svendborg to study as a machinist. He expects to return to the island with his girlfriend, Thea.
THE VILLA. Nine-year-old Samiyar is from Iran and lives in a yellow villa on the corner in Humble with 16 other asylum seekers. He has lived in Langeland for a year and speaks almost fluent Danish. There is tea and digestives on the coffee table. None of them know when they can move on from Langeland. The municipality has rented the house to them.
THE FORTRESS. There was both a maypole and a big bonfire for Saint Hans at Langelandsfort. After the Cold War, the place has taken on a different role in the Langeland landscape. From playing a central role in the Cuban Missile Crisis to gathering people of all ages under the evening sun for this year's Midsummer Eve.
SIMMERBØLLE. Gregor Kozboor,34, works in the potato fields, Kavol Bevnoicki, 32, in the strawberry fields. They are both from Poland and love living in Langeland. There is not a single permanent traffic light in Langeland. But when there is roadwork, the temporary ones are rolled out.
RÅGEVEJ. "I am as soft, as I am hard", says Bo Mortensen. He has a checkered past and tends his plants as my mother would. And then he is actually quite upset. "People don't accept me because of my appearance, and nobody really greets me". On his table is a full ashtray and a glass of vodka with coke. He keeps offering cigarettes and gets tears in his eyes when I say goodbye to him.
THE RASTA ROOM. Nicolas and Sara Amalie go to Langeland Efterskole and are both 17 years old. They fell in love while they were at school, but soon they will go out into the world. Sara Amalie will miss the free space that is at post-secondary school, but Nicolas is looking forward to being able to do what he wants. "For example, smoking a bit of pot", he says softly.
HØGEVEJ. Today, a group of friends will play roundball against Humble Handball Club. Before heading to the ballpark, they get in the mood with some Mokai and some amphetamines. That's just the way it is.
THE CORNER. In a corner of the Broløkke manor there is a stuffed ostrich. Counts, barons and royalty have feasted and celebrated the joys of hunting here. Both Karen Blixen and H.C. Andersen has enjoyed the fresh air around the manor. Today it is both a restaurant, conference center and hotel. Gregers Skovgaard Henningsen was born in 1947 and lives at Hjørnet in Rudkøbing, a residence for people with mental problems. He has lived here for five years. Before that he was in prison for 12 years for murder. His employer cheated him out of a boat that should have been his wages; so he shot him.
LONGELSE. Laura is 5 years old. She looks out of the room to see if the food is ready. Her father, Bo, made barbeque, her step-mother, Rikke, made salad and boiled potatoes. "If Copenhagen is all the way up, Southern Jutland a bit in between, then Langeland is completely down," says Bo. He looks with slightly disappointed eyes at his girlfriend Rikke and remarks, "that these are definitely not Jon's potatoes". It is not. But it will work.
SNØDE-HESSELBERG. Vagn Aksel is 83 years old and a bottomnet eel-fisherman. He has been since he was 13, when he learned it from his father. "When I die, eel fishing will stop here on the island. In the past we just fished, and the French ate glass eel like we eat spaghetti. But now it's all tables and control,' says Vagn. He doesn't expect to be able to fish much longer. And he always leaves the barn door open so the swallows can get in and out.