Jesus Lives in Karmøy

Film review from Films of Norway

In the documentary Jesus lives in Karmøy, a young man rebuilds a house of prayer against all odds.

Films of Norway

The documentary genre has become more and more popular in recent years.

Perhaps the most common variant is what we call “true crime,” but sometimes little pearls emerge that are so well-made, so charming that it is simply fascinating to see what themes can be used to make a film and how elegantly they can be produced.

Jesus lives in Karmøy is a good example of what I’m talking about.

The filmmaker decided to take us into a universe about to disappear from Norwegian society and not least the local environment: the house of worship culture of Karmøy.

It is said that at one time there were so many houses of worship in the west region of Norway that they stood next to each other.

Stavanger to Kristiansand. The area was called the “Bible Belt.” The prayer house culture was strongly and deeply rooted in the soul of the folk of the local communities that had houses of prayer. 

Why the house of prayer culture became so strongly rooted in the people’s soul is not easy to say in a definite sense. Some believe that this culture emerged as something simpler, more everyday than what was experienced in the mainstream churches, which perhaps had something more solemn and heavy about them.

The film’s action quickly takes us to meet the main character, Svein Helge, who, despite his young age, is concerned with passing on the house of prayer culture to new generations.

Most other young people are concerned with playing games, the future, and so forth but Svein Helge’s passion is directed toward a journey back in time and preserving something that is about to die out.

An important element for preserving the culture of the house of prayer includes the actual setting for the meetings, a home for community, and a message of faith, namely the house of prayer.

Svein Helge finds and takes over a dilapidated house of prayer with a rather worn-out congregation. 

But he is firm in his belief that he will both be able to finance renovations and build a congregation that will pass on the traditions to future generations.

Many probably think that his project is relatively stillborn from the outset, but, amazingly, Svein Helge’s courage and unwavering faith produce results, and against all odds, old friendships, faith, and an old building are resurrected. 

The older people in the congregation are both impressed and motivated when they see that young initiative is yielding results for something that many thought was about to die out.

For my own part, I would like to add that I am impressed when I see that a filmmaker manages to carry out a production with so many professional functions and responsibilities on his own shoulders.

Take a look at the introductory text overview in this review, and you will see that this is, so to speak, a “one-man show.” Well done, Arne!

Jesus lives in Karmøy

Streaming at 

Script:  Arne Gunnar Olsen

Director:  Arne Gunnar Olsen 

Cinematography:  Arne Gunnar Olsen

Producer:  Arne Gunnar Olsen 

Production year:  2020

Run time:  About 30 minutes

Genre:  Documentary 

Photos courtesy of Films of Norway

This article originally appeared in the November 4, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Geir Mæland

Geir Mæland is the founder and manager of Films of Norway, a Norwegian film-streaming service based in Stavanger, Norway.