“A film for adults about children”
by Annika Pham
- Interview with a 37-year-old director who is passionate about visual atmospheres and inspired by a blend of social realism and cinematic poetry
Born in 1972 on the outskirts of Stockholm, Fredrik Edfeldt studied Film Theory and Mass Communication at Stockholm University and filmmaking at Stockholm’s Film School. He worked for Swedish public broadcaster SVT and is now associated with one of Sweden’s most successful advertising and creative companies, ACNE, who went into feature film production with his directorial debut The Girl [+see also:
interview: Fredrik Edfeldt
The film world premiered at the 2009 Berlinale, where it won a Special Mention in the Generation 14+ section. World sales are handled by Delphis Films.
Cineuropa: What led you to make your first feature debut with this project?
Fredrik Edfeldt: The script by Karin Arrhenius was so good. It had strong visual and atmospheric qualities, which are what attracts me to filmmaking. You could tell it was written from an inner experience; very subjective and personal. In a way, everything seemed true. Also, the world that Karin had created around her story was so special so living and working with the film was always deeply satisfying.
You teamed up with experienced DoP Hoyte van Hoytema, who also did a beautiful job on Let the Right One In [+see also:
interview: John Nordling
interview: Tomas Alfredson
film profile]. Was it crucial to you that your feature debut to be accompanied by expert eyes?
Of course, but I also consider myself a kind of expert since I’ve been directing films in many other formats for many years. But Hoyte is a genius and a sensitive DOP who shared but also developed my vision of the film.
Would you define The Girl as a movie for children and youth or a film for adults about children?
When you are doing the film you just want to do the best film, so I didn’t think about who should see it in the end. Now that it’s done I see it more like a film for adults about children. But I am more than happy if young people see it and appreciate it, since after all I’ve tried to say something about being a child.
Was it difficult to look at the adult world from a child’s perspective?
No, somehow it felt very natural to me to take the perspective of a child and in a way objectify the adults. Also, I think that to be a good artist the child within you has to be very alive and present.
It’s hard not to think of Pippi Longstocking when seeing your film, because of the freedom your main character, a 10 year-old girl, has when she is left for a few days, without any adult supervision, plus the physical resemblance. Was that intentional?
No that was not intentional, but all writings by author Astrid Lindgren are a deep part of our cultural background in Sweden, so it’s difficult not to be influenced, even if it is in a very unconscious way. But I also think the theme about the lonely child goes way back and is well-known in literature and films.
Which was the bigger challenge for you on this movie: directing children or finding the right emotional tone?
Finding the right emotional tone. Directing children is both more difficult and easier. When you get it right with kids, it’s so rewarding and when they are good onscreen they are so good. They have a natural presence that makes a performance glow.
The Girl is reminiscent of the authenticity of British social realism, such as in the films of Ken Loach, Lynn Ramsay, Shane Meadows. Was that your influence?
Yes, I love the authenticity and social realism of those films and how It’s combined with a poetic and cinematic style.
You won an award in Berlin, and now you’re Variety’s Critics Choice. What does this mean to you?
It makes me very happy. It means a lot that someone sees and acknowledges your work. This makes me strong and gives me artistic confidence to meet the challenges of a second film.
What will be your next feature film project?
It will probably be a film based on a new original script by Karin Arrhenius. It’s a very strong story and also set in a very special world.