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Jesper Ganslandt • Director

“My goal is to reflect stories that are unfurling around us at this moment”


- Swedish filmmaker Jesper Ganslandt talks to us about his new project, Jimmie, which won the Eurimages Lab Project Award in Haugesund last August

Jesper Ganslandt  • Director
(© Nordisk)

Jesper Ganslandt is readying his follow-up to 2012’s Blondie [+see also:
film review
interview: Jesper Ganslandt
film profile
, in which a four-year-old and his father (played by Ganslandt and his real-life son) are forced to leave Sweden for a safer land. Jimmie [+see also:
film review
film profile
, produced by Sweden’s Fasad, is therefore a response to the current refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. The Swedish filmmaker talked to us about it, after winning the Eurimages Lab Project Award at the New Nordic Films market during the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund last August.

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Cineuropa: What are the origins of your unique project, Jimmie?
Jesper Ganslandt:
It started with a few scenes when my son was just one year old. I shot those scenes with him, and when editing them, new scenes would come up, eventually leading to the script for Jimmie. It was always about a child’s perspective on something complex, dangerous and life-changing.

Then, as the refugees coming to Europe neared a peak in the summer of 2015, I started to think about whether the situation and map had been reversed. Would we as Europeans feel, experience or perceive things differently or the same way if we were the ones fleeing? The film takes its initial leap from that question and bases most of the scenes on real accounts from refugees away from home.

Did you think that cinema was taking a long time to portray the refugee crisis that Europe is experiencing at the moment in fiction stories?
There have been some powerful films portraying the very real refugee crisis, both fictions and documentaries. But I think this attempt to see it in a different light, to step into those shoes, has been missing somewhat.

You are telling a story that's set in Sweden and the Mediterranean Sea, which makes it a very pan-European one. How have you been working in the countries you shot it in?
It was both very difficult to shoot and very natural. Every time my son, who was four at the time, didn't want to go or shoot what we were supposed to that day, I had to fight the urge to say we didn't have to. We talked a lot about it, and in the end, there was often enough of a compromise to be found. Other times, it just came naturally without a struggle; we just existed in this universe and shot everything we needed and more.

We started in Sweden for a few weeks, and then packed the whole cast and crew into trucks and travelled like a circus down to Vienna, Austria, where we shot for a week. Then we packed up again and travelled over the Alps, shooting scenes along the way. We went through Slovenia, and then finished in Croatia, where we shot everything that was connected to the Mediterranean Sea, where the story ends.

Do you think you and film professionals in general have to adapt to the increasingly diversified continent that is Europe in order to develop their ideas? Is working together now more important than it was before?
I think the most interesting stories in film today emerge out of this diversity that is Europe. At least for me, in these different cultures and the cracks that sometimes appear between them - that's where I find it vital to explore. Working together is always crucial in film, even between filmmakers and projects. I am not sure if it is more or less important now than before, though.

After Jimmie's participation in Haugesund, you received the Eurimages Lab Project Award. How do you think this will help you to finish it?
I was so pleasantly surprised and happy to receive the Eurimages Lab Project Award for Jimmie. It meant a great, great deal to me, as the film was under-financed and struggled in post. Now we can book the right people to work with the sound and the picture for the home stretch of the production.

We set out to depict, in the truest form we could, a child’s discovery of a world that is at times both harsh and cruel as well as strange and beautiful - and, by the way, completely incomprehensible for adults as well, when we do our best to make sense of things. My goal is to carefully reflect stories that are unfurling around us at this moment, in other parts of the world. And all of the help I have received along the way to do this has been very much appreciated.

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