"To make your presence felt in the world, first of all you need to make it felt to yourself"
by Maud Forsgren
- Cineuropa met up with Norwegian filmmaker Ole Giæver, the director of Out of Nature, which was presented at the Toronto International Film Festival
Out of Nature [+see also:
interview: Ole Giæver
film profile] is one of the three Norwegian films that have just taken part in the Toronto International Film Festival, the two others being Miss Julie [+see also:
interview: Liv Ullmann
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interview: Bent Hamer
film profile] by Bent Hamer. The starting point for this comedy-drama is a man heading off on his own, on foot, to go and spend some time fully immersed in nature. Ole Giæver, the director (with Marte Vold) of the film, is originally from northern Norway, but Cineuropa caught up with him in Oslo.
Cineuropa: You are also the lead actor and screenwriter-dialogue writer of your second feature film.
Ole Giæver: It’s a challenge that I really threw myself into. I needed two years in order to see the project through, from writing the synopsis through to post-production, with support from the Norwegian Film Institute and the involvement of partners who I have absolute faith in: cinematographer Øystein Mamen, composer Ola Fløttum and editor Frida Michaelsen, among others. They share my vision of things. My usual role as director consists of helping the actors to perform fearlessly in their own space, to dare to engage fully in the performance. That outward perspective was what I needed to get rid of when I became an actor. But everything was painstakingly prepared in advance with the crew – every shot, every scene: it was a vital preparation process that allowed me to then let myself go and fully embrace the role of Martin.
Do flexibility and availability also have a role to play in this type of creative work?
Of course. This film, more than my other movies, developed as time went by, and the original screenplay was very different to the final version. Specifically, I made a lot of changes to the voice-over, Martin’s inner monologue, that stream of consciousness that peppers some of the sequences. What’s more, at the end of the day we took some time out to improvise, some time for unforeseen eventualities – and that’s how the frog worked its way into the film so naturally.
Does Out of Nature have anything in common with your feature debut, The Mountain?
Yes, and it does with my short feature Summers Past, too. In them, you see human beings who find themselves at an impasse following some kind of a failure, a traumatic experience. They feel like they need a change. The problem is that their families are not necessarily on the same page, and there is therefore a discrepancy there.
Why the title Out of Nature?
The Norwegian title (Mot naturen) is deliberately vague. It simultaneously conjures up a movement, an urge to get out into nature, and also the resistance of a character who, both literally and figuratively, is evolving contrary to nature in some way. The initial title in Norwegian, in which the word “nature” also featured, reminded you too much of a documentary, which my film certainly isn’t – it’s fiction.
Purely fiction? Martin has your face and your body...
It’s true that I’ve always felt close to him. During the writing phase, I often used to think of what movements he would make and what faces he would pull. That was all very clear and obvious to me. I made a pilot version with another actor, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted. The producer of the film, Maria Ekerhovd – who manages the outfit Mer Film – and my wife, the actress Marte Magnusdotter Solem, who is also Martin’s wife in the movie, then both encouraged me to take the role. That gave me an extra boost of confidence and energy. Even so, as a director, I think I knew how to distance myself, whenever necessary, through avenues such as the ironic angle I could bring to certain scenes, and also thanks to the humour that is sometimes unexpectedly generated by the situations and the characters.
Nature also has a role to play.
Certainly, but just like Ola Fløttum’s music, it is not content with taking a back seat. Above all else, Fløttum wanted to embrace the film’s own type of musicality, to immerse himself in its poetry and then bring that to the forefront. In the same way, nature, which is simultaneously comforting and threatening, is there to accentuate the dramaturgy. It has the right to be mean and spiteful.
So is it a catalyst?
It is primarily an arena in which a person has to come face to face with him or herself. In the town or the city, you can get distracted easily. In contrast, nature allows us to go into more depth, and as Nietzsche said: “When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”
Indeed. You’re alone and left to your own devices, and so you’re vulnerable, but that’s a challenge you need to take on. Nature can help us to become a better person in society. It takes courage because to make your presence felt in the world, amongst your family, first of all you need to make it felt to yourself.
(Translated from French)