"We at Zentropa invest in talent"
by Annika Pham
- Meta Louise Foldager joined Zentropa in 2006 to produce Lars von Trier's The Boss of it All and has since supervised four features including Omar Shargawi’s Go With Peace Jamil
She has since supervised four features for the Danish production powerhouse, both high-budget films (Nikolaj Arcel’s Island of Lost Souls [+see also:
film profile] and Lars von Trier’s upcoming Antichrist) and low-budget films from newcomers such as Morten Hartz Kaplers (AFR [+see also:
film profile]) and Omar Shargawi (Go With Peace Jamil [+see also:
interview: Meta Louise Foldager
interview: Omar Shargawi
Cineuropa: How did you and Omar Shargawi meet?
Meta Louise Foldager: On Christmas Eve two and a half years ago, Omar contacted me. He kept calling me and calling me. I finally picked up the phone. He said he wanted to do this movie. We met two days later. He showed me his material, like a promo of his project. Based on that, I decided immediately to do the film. He had nine scenes. They were so intense. I could just see from that material that he was really talented.
Just like with A Soap [+see also:
interview: Lars Bredo Rahbek
interview: Pernille Fischer Christensen
film profile], an experienced scriptwriter (Mogens Rukov) came on board to coach Shargawi. How was their collaboration?
Omar actually did most of the writing, with Mogens working as script consultant. But they discussed a lot all throughout the writing process. Once I picked up the project, it took six months before we started shooting. Yet Omar had been developing the story and the whole project for over two years.
How difficult was it to balance the pure action film with a revenge theme and political drama around the clash between Sunni and Shia communities?
The film is a drama, not an action film. Yes, there is some violence, but the film is about human beings who are caught in a conflict that they actually don’t give a damn about. They get involved because the mother has died, or one of the character’s’ best friends has been killed. They get emotionally involved for personal reasons, not for political reasons. We don’t look at the Sunni/Shia conflict itself, but at the people who are caught in it. That’s why I think the film is so important. Why is there war in the world? Nobody really wants war. But people often get caught for personal reasons, because family members get killed.
How you put the financing together?
The film cost €1.5m. Although we had quite a few financiers involved – New Danish Screen, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Nordisk Film, Zentropa – it was still a very tight budget to work on. So the production itself was quite tough.
The film has sold to the Arab countries, Norway and TrustNordisk is continuing to sell it. The film is wonderful and has won many awards at festivals. But it remains a violent film about war. We know that Omar is very talented and that he will certainly go quite far with his career. But we won’t make a lot of money back. We at Zentropa invested in Omar, and perhaps his second, third or fourth film will make money. We invest in talent.
What’s next for you and for Omar Shargawi?
We are working on a documentary film that we will shoot in the fall. Then we’ll do another feature film together, In fact we’re developing two features: one that will be shot in Danish and Arabic, and the other one in English and Arabic, set in Ramala.