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Interview: Tobias Lindholm • Director

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"Reality is so cleverly designed that it always surprises us"

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- A Hijacking is the rising star of Danish cinema's second feature as a director after R. He also co-wrote Submarino and The Hunt.

Interview: Tobias Lindholm • Director

Five years after Danish writer-director Tobias Lindholm graduated from the National Film School of Denmark, he has received both Denmark's film awards, the Bodil and the Robert, for his feature debut, the prison drama R [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
(2010); the Nordic Council's Film Prize - Scandinavia's highest honour - for Thomas Vinterberg's Submarino [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Thomas Vinterberg
film profile
]
(2010). He has also delivered episodes for the The Summers and Borgen/Government TV series, and Vinterberg's The Hunt [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Thomas Vinterberg
interview: Thomas Vinterberg
film profile
]
, which was recently honoured in Cannes. Next, he will provide Søren Kragh-Jacobsen with the script for a psychological thriller, The Hour of the Lynx. His A Hijacking [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Tobias Lindholm
film profile
]
, about a pirate raid of a Danish cargo ship in the Indian Ocean,received critical acclaim at its premiere in the Orizzonti competition at Venice. Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling and Dar Salim star in the hostage drama.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Cineuropa: You studied script-writing, and it seems you could easily make a living doing that. Why the switch to the director’s chair?
Tobias Lindholm: I don't really like to be with many people at the same time - actually I prefer to be alone. So it was not in the cards that I should direct. I guess it was by coincidence that Michael Noer and I made R together. But R made me want more - the pleasure of writing and directing, in the close collaboration with a team a film production requires. For A Hijacking my only condition was that I could work with the same crew as in R - but yes, basically I am a writer. It is the long days and nights before the computer I like best - this is where the major battles fought, and the great victories retrieved.

What brought you and Noer together for R, a depiction of real life behind bars?
When I went to film school, one of my close friends was sentenced to four years in prison. I wrote letters to him several times a week, visited him twice a month; I began to write both his and my experiences as ‘scenes’ from reality - the basis of R. I showed them to Noer, whose background is in documentary, and we decided to direct it together - we both had a burning desire to force reality back to fiction, which in many ways suffers from strained ideas dramaturgically correct choices. Since life does not follow a specific recipe, movies don't have to, either, and after all we understand life.

R had a documentary approach - shot in a prison, with real inmates in some of the roles. Did you try to achieve the same in A Hijacking?
I want to make my films as realistic as possible, and the easiest way is to move them into reality instead of carrying reality piece-by-piece into a film studio. This was what we did for R and again for A Hijacking.

The story takes place on a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean, so we rented the MV Rozen in Mombasa, Kenya, and sailed off. Suddenly we were in the middle of the reality we were talking about: a year earlier the MV Rozen had been hijacked, and the sailors had been held hostages and knew all about it. It was a great gift and an important mirror to keep the script against.

The scenes at the shipping company were shot at a real shipping company, with a real-life hostage negotiator in the role of himself. In general we tried to enrichen the film by so many authentic elements as possible - the pirates' weapons, for instance, are real pirates' weapons which we borrowed from the Kenyan police.

Where do you find inspiration for your stories? Are there some corners of reality that particularly ‘click’ with you?
A good story is a construction. You take the elements that bring a situation forward, and develop it up so that the audience feel something. But a really good story stands out, when the construction is neither seen nor felt. This is what I struggle every day to achieve – to throw sand over my tracks, let the structure disappear in the background.

Essentially I do not like fantasy. Reality is so cleverly designed that it always surprises us, and still we understand it. I think I like reality much better than fiction - real love is cumbersome and annoying and wonderful and full of jealousy and inferiority. Real violence is raw, ugly and clumsy. Real sweat never runs down the forehead in a beautiful and elegant way.

Of course this is a contradiction and quite irritating now I happen to be a writer and director of fiction, but I suppose I will have to live with it. After all, I find my stories in real life.

photogallery

international title: A Hijacking
original title: Kapringen
country: Denmark
sales agent: TrustNordisk
year: 2012
directed by: Tobias Lindholm
screenplay: Tobias Lindholm
cast: Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling

main awards/selection

Biennale di Venezia 2012 Orizzonti
Guadalajara Film Festival 2013 
Toronto International Film Festival 2012 
Zurich Film Festival 2012 
Tokyo International Film Festival 2012 
Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2012 
Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2012 
Les Arcs International Film Festival 2012 
Göteborg International Film Festival 2012 
Glasgow Film Festival 2012 
Portland International Film Festival 2012 
Transylvania International Film Festival 2013 
Brussels Film Festival 2013 
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