Rune Denstad Langlo • Director
"Betting on sobriety"
by Maud Forsgren
- Chasing the wind (Jag etter vind) is the second feature film by Norwegian director Rune Denstad Langlo
It was in 2009, when his talent as a documentary filmmaker no longer needed to be proven, that Rune Denstad Langlo made his debut as a director of fiction films with North [+see also:
interview: Rune Denstad Langlo
film profile], which won an award, amongst others, at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Chasing the wind (Jag etter vind), which has just been released, is the second feature film by this Norwegian director, who is very attached to his homeland.
Cineuropa: What does the title mean?
Rune Denstad Langlo: It is an expression taken from the Old Testament, from Ecclesiastes (1.14) to be precise. Jag etter vind means running after the wind, which conveys the futility of our actions, the inanity of human enterprise. The vanity of all vanities. Johannes, the grandfather in my film played by Sven-Bertil Taube, a Swedish actor-singer very well-known in Scandinavia, likes to quote the Bible. And also to recite German texts.
He’s a rather grumpy grandfather.
It’s his way of protecting himself, wrestling with the pain of having lost his wife. Faced with this grief, and also with painful memories, hesitating between two love affairs, his granddaughter Anna, played by Marie Blokhus, will react differently when she returns to the village where she was born. The two of them have a hard time understanding each other. Survival strategies in the face of suffering vary from one human being to the other, and it is often with the members of our own families that we communicate the least easily, probably out of modesty.
Is your film autobiographical?
Undeniably. I still remember my grandfather’s death, the three days spent alone with my grandmother, a painful period that inspired me for the screenplay, the first one I have actually written. I sometimes felt lonely while I was working on it. I have to admit I had memories of wonderful creative moments I had shared with Norwegian writer Erlend Loe, the screenwriter of North. I missed his humour, his sense of the absurd. Humour is also to be found in Chasing the wind, but it is tempered by melancholia.
Your characters have secrets.
Yes, reservations and silences. A large part of the action in fact belongs to the past, and I did not want to make too many revelations at once. I had to restrain myself, calculate and dose. What should be said, at which particular moment? How should I dole out the suspense? In the end, writing a screenplay, structuring a plot, is a bit like mathematics. I also wanted the story to have its own rhythm, images that speak for themselves, rather like we see in Bent Hamer’s films. I was helped by Philip Øgaard, my cinematographer, who chose to use an Arri Alexa digital camera. We sometimes opted for drastic solutions, such as limiting ourselves to a certain number of takes, so as to pay closer attention to the image. It was risky, we knew that, because during the editing the choice is then more limited. But I believe that, if you bet on sobriety, you also have to trust your intuition while filming. I like to set myself limits, it’s the best way I can serve my film. One tends to be too dispersed when there is a vast amount of raw material.
Where did you film the movie?
On the island of Stokkøya for the most part, to the north of Trondheim, close to my home. I like to film in places I know, work as a team, live together, a bit like boy scouts, without family or friends, and with the film as our only project for two whole months. The landscapes are beautiful, but I tried to avoid empty picturesque scenery. Places, like objects, have their importance in the movie: they are often catalysts that set off emotions and revive old memories.
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