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Per Fly • Director

“I wanted to created other images relevant to his life”


- Per Fly talks about Waltz for Monica, a film which met great success in Sweden in 2013.

Per Fly • Director

Monica Zetterlund, the singer who decided to sing jazz in Swedish, is one of Scandinavia’s cultural icons. Waltz for Monica [+see also:
interview: Edda Magnason
interview: Per Fly
film profile
 is the biopic directed by Per Fly, which became a box-office hit in Sweden in 2013 with a brilliant interpretation by Edda Magnason. The film was screened at the Marrakech Film Festival within the context of paying homage to cinema production from this region of Europe. That is where the director talked to Cineuropa about his film and his first project with Creative Alliance, the production house which was founded together with Danish Lone Scherfig and Thomas Vinterberg, among others, and aims at making English-language films for an international market.

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Cineuropa: Why did you decide to ignore the tragic details of Monica Zetterlund in the film, including her illness and her death, and to finish with one of her happy moments?
Per Fly: Most people in Scandinavia know that Monica Zetterlund died burned in her bed in 2005 as she was completely intoxicated. That is the first image that comes to mind when you think of her name. But she was so much more. I wanted to create other images related to her death with which we could remember her.

How did Edda Magnason come to be the protagonist of this biography?
When I started this biography, I knew that Monica would have been a complicated character and I started a search for a singer who matched Monica’s profile. Edda sent me her tape and I instantly saw what I didn’t want: a singer who looked like Monica. But I immediately saw that the camera loved her and that she was a woman with much personality. When I started working with her, I realised she was also a good actress and in those months during which we worked side by side, to prepare her character, she actually became a better actress.

In 2013, you founded a production house together with other Scandinavian directors. Could you tell us what the objectives of the Creative Alliance are?
The main objective was to produce English projects and to encourage co-production with other companies. We base ourselves on five principles: collaboration, originality, steadiness, honesty and globalisation.

One of the first projects is Backstabbing for Beginners, directed by you. Why did you want to tell such a controversial story, on the UN’s biggest scandals?
We have international ambitions with this film and we decided to tell the truth like the good intentions that transform into avidity when they are applied on a large scale, like when they are used in a world where good and bad are not defined and where it is almost impossible not to be corrupt. Oil for Food [an old programme of aid for Iraq from which tangents, sexual scandals and collaborationism with Saddam Hussein emerged] is considered the biggest scandal to be documented. It was very difficult not being able to describe it on the big screen. 

(Translated from Spanish)

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