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"I'd like my film to be a haunting melody, that’s irritating and fascinating at the same time"

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Bobbie Peers • Director


- Cineuropa met the Anglo-Norwegian director Bobbie Peers, who has just screened his first feature The Disappearing Illusionist

Bobbie Peers  • Director

Closing the Kosmorama Festival in Trondheim this year was the film The Disappearing Illusionist [+see also:
interview: Bobbie Peers
film profile
, the debut feature by Bobbie Peers. This Anglo-Norwegian director, graduate of the London International Film School, is especially known for his short film Sniffer, which received in 2006 the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Cineuropa: How did your film come about?
Bobbie Peers: Bjørn Olaf Johannessen
, the screenwriter-dialogist for the film, spoke to me one day about a real event that dates back to 2003: Dirk Ohm, a German illusionist, who disappeared after a short stay in Grong, a region north of Trondheim, was found dead in a stream a month later. I kept the essential part of this unsolved mystery for my film. The rest is fiction. Images are crucial for me, so, as with Sniffer I drew all of the scenes, then I showed Bjørn my collection of drawings to hear his comments. That’s how our film came about. 

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Your Dirk Ohm is German actor August Diehl.
Yes, with Danish actress Sara Hjort Ditlevsen in the role of Maria as his main partner. I think it’s important to highlight the participation of the inhabitants of Grong, not just by featuring in the film, but they were also ready and willing to go in search of snow up the mountains when our natural scenery started to melt all of a sudden. 

Who plays the police man?
It’s an Icelandic actor, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, who we saw in Of Horses and Men [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Benedikt Erlingsson
festival scope
film profile
by Benedikt Erlingsson. This policeman represents the law and carries out his investigation as a professional, but he quite likes Dirk too. He lives between two worlds. For me, he’s the ferryman in Greek mythology, Charon, who in his boat brings the souls of the deceased to the world of the dead. Dirk, is constantly in two worlds: the world on the surface, the real one, on the one hand, and on the other an underlying deeper world. Death is at the heart of my film, but not the fear of death, this taboo-death that we don’t dare to talk about nowadays. 

You chose 35mm.
Indeed. This format emphasizes the organic side of things: the texture of the snow is more beautiful; you almost experience tactile sensations. What’s more, when all of the electronic material suddenly broke down because of the harsh cold, the 35 mm camera didn’t let us down and kept on working, to the great relief of the director of photography, Jakob Ingimundarson, an Icelandic friend with whom I’ve always worked.

Is Dirk Ohm a big budget film?
My film cost a little over 21 million Krone, around 2.5 million euro, whereas an average film budget in Norway is 15 million Krone. Financing was obtained rather quickly, first in Norway thanks to Mer Film, then with the support of Eurimages, among others.

Your film seeks to be different.      
I could have made a more conventional, more accessible film, but I think that artists shouldn’t be afraid of failing; they shouldn’t fall into the trap of always going for what’s easy or comfortable. I hope that viewers enter into my long scenes slowly like embarking on an open, relaxed journey, and that as the minutes pass they take time to reflect, to question themselves. I didn’t want a fast tempo with a pulsating rhythm. I tried to recreate the powerful emotions felt when I first read the screenplay, and to keep the viewer in step with Dirk. It all comes full circle when at the end, like at the beginning of the film, the camera becomes subjective: is it Dirk’s view that we share? Is the round up of images that follows or that precedes, a collection of memories, of ghosts? Or rather, are we victims of an illusion? It’s up to us to complete the mosaic, to imagine, to mull it all over.

(Translated from French)

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