Exit: Leaving Extremism Behind

Karen Winther, 85 min, Norway.

How can you belong to a group that believes firmly in an idea, and what makes you then suddenly change your mind? Director Karen Winther tried that herself, and now she is finding other previous violent extremists to hear their story about leaving the violent and extremist community behind. In Exit, the director Karen Winther goes sourcing for answers to the question: What was the ‘wake-up call’ – that made her and a group of previous violent extremists leave violence and extremism behind?    

Through intimate conversations with former violent extremists from Germany, France, Denmark, and the US she asks: What was it that made us alter the course of our lives? Karen, living in Norway, will meet Angela in the US and Manuel and Ingo in Germany, all of whom are living in hiding due to their dangerous pasts. She will also meet with Søren, who has a violent leftwing-extremist background. And she will meet David, a former jihadist, who participated in one of the first homegrown Islamist terrorist attacks in France.   

Throughout this journey, Karen moves closer to remember her own wake-up call. Reflections on her extremist past and way she managed to go out of extremism will form an emotional and psychological counterpoint with the stories of the people she meets in her travels.