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"I wanted to have a realistic feeling of a village in northern Sweden"

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Beata Gårdeler • Director


- BERLIN 2015: Flocking has won the Crystal Bear for Best Film in the Generation 14plus section of the Berlin Film Festival. Cineuropa talked to its director, Beata Gårdeler

Beata Gårdeler  • Director

In Flocking [+see also:
film review
interview: Beata Gårdeler
film profile
, Beata Gårdeler tells the story of Jennifer, a 14-year-old girl who becomes a scapegoat when she accuses her classmate of having raped her. Cineuropa met up with her to talk about the film, which was presented in the Berlinale’s Generation 14plus section, and the inspiration behind it.

Cineuropa: What inspired you to make this film? Is it based on any real events?
Beata Gårdeler: When the scriptwriter and I started on this film, we looked at some cases in Sweden first. And then we discovered there were so many cases, it is really common all around the world. These things happen all the time, and I think that's really interesting.

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Why did you decide not to show the rape but leave the audience to guess whether it had happened or not?
I really want the audience in the beginning to feel more like the flock or the herd. Usually, I don't like to have a good and a bad side; I think it's too simple. So if you want to make a complex character, then I think it is easier not to show what really happened, because then you get more feelings from both sides, and both families. 

Why did you choose to have an open ending to the film?
For me, the movie is more about the reactions of the grown-ups. In some kind of way, we can say that they are pushing him to do this in the film, the second rape, and I think that's why I wanted the film to end there because for me, that was most important thing with the movie. Whether he goes to prison or not... I didn't feel that was interesting. I wanted to create the feeling that he could carry out a lot of rapes, and they are still going to be on his side, and I wanted her to have the feeling that she's so strong, during the whole movie. In the ending, I wanted to have the feeling that she's still strong. I don't know how the audience will react, but for me you get the feeling that she's going to have a good life anyway. You don't want to have simple answers like her taking a bus and moving away. I don't like those kinds of endings.

Is there a difference for you in terms of how the men and the women are portrayed in this village? Are the women perhaps more passive?
For me, all the people are so afraid that they make the wrong choices. Jennifer's mother tries to do things; she goes to the school to talk to them. It's also about social positions, like which character you are and if you are really strong enough to have all these reactions. I don't think I decided that the men would be one way and the women another way; for me, it's a whole group. 

Does the film portray a particular social class?
I wanted to have a realistic feeling of a village in northern Sweden. I think this could happen anywhere - I mean in southern Sweden or in Germany, or anywhere. I wanted to shoot in northern Sweden because I grew up there, and I wanted to show some things I could relate to, that are really close to me, about characters and the environment.

Can you tell us about the idea behind the text messages that are posted on the screen throughout the film?
I really wanted to have that in the movie. The structure of this village and the rape case - all that could relate back to the 18th century. It’s an old pattern that has been seen in history for a long time, and that’s why I really wanted to have the context of 2015. You think that society has developed so much, but in fact it hasn’t. So I wanted the contrast. And then I wanted to have this chat landscape: I call it chat landscape because of the picture, because that’s one thing that’s making it even worse. If you compare it to the 18th century, you can be raped by the whole social-media thing. It’s like a second rape to be on social media. We’re like different characters on social media: some people choose to just show the good side of them. But if you use chats and no one knows who is writing, then you can be a really bad person and use totally different language and say all this stuff that you wanted to say but you don’t have the courage to say. I really want to make a whole film about this; it’s really big for me.

Jennifer’s interrogation is shot in one long take, focusing on her. What did you want to convey with this technique?
I think that scene was hard because there are so many crime series, so I thought about that scene for a long time and decided that if we did it in one take, maybe it would feel more realistic. When I started looking at real cases, I was shocked by how they keep asking the same question over and over, and that is exhausting for the person. I wanted to create that feeling for the audience, too - the "Oh, can you just stop this scene?" effect. 

The cast is made up of professional and non-professional actors. How did you cast them?
The young people in the cast had never been filmed before, and as we decided to set the film in northern Sweden, I wanted the dialect to be realistic, so the young people are from the area. The lead actors are not from the area, so they worked with the dialect a lot. The small parts - in the trial, for example - those are real people working there.

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