Christian Lo • Director
"My style is close to realism, tempered by tenderness and nuanced humour"
- BERLIN 2018: We met up with Norwegian director Christian Lo, whose third feature film Los Bando is screening in the Generation section
Los Bando Immortale, or Los Bando to those in the know, is the name of a group of young people, a slightly unusual rock band. Just imagine: Axel, the singer-guitarist, a bashful lover who deludes himself, Grim, the drummer with a serious admiration for a former rock star, and Thilda, the cellist, hired due to a lack of bassist, and a very determined petite woman whose (very!) young age will be the source of some plot twists. These are the heroes of Los Bando [+see also:
interview: Christian Lo
film profile] – distributed in Norway by KontxtFilm and participating in the Berlinale 2018 in the Generation section – the third feature film by the Norwegian director Christian Lo, already in attendance at Berlin in 2010 in the same category with the multi-award winning film, Rafiki.
Cineuropa: Your heroes hit the road in the car, headed straight for the north, often at full speed.
Christian Lo: Indeed, because they don’t have much time. Behind the wheel is Martin, a teenager in open conflict with his father. The Destination is Tromsø, where they intend to win a battle of the bands. There are a few nods to Little Miss Sunshine by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris in Los Bando, a film which also has a competition at the heart of its plot.
Does the competition in the film really exist?
No, it's fictional, but there are plenty of rock festivals and competitions in Norway, like the Buktafestivalen in Tromsø, or the Norway Rock Festival in Kvinesdal in southern Norway.
You’re a musician, correct?
That's right, I play bass, and there are inevitably some autobiographical elements in the film, memories of lived experiences, music that, other than the score composed for the film by Eirik Myhr, has accompanied me throughout life, as well as the lives of the characters, such as Motorpsycho, Ramaskrik, or The Hellacopters.
You have cast some well-known comedians in Norway as some of the adults, in secondary roles. Do you have a main character?
Not one, but four. Each of these young musicians is driven by dreams and ambitions, but they are also going through their own inner crises and facing serious problems. There is no narrator. We witness various tensions, conflicting relationships, such as the one between Grim's mother and father, Martin and his older brother, who is so irritable, and also between the members of Los Bando itself.
There is no shortage of people breaking the law in your on-the-road film, a real high-speed pursuit where the police will also have their say.
But these young people, with very different personalities, are full of resources, and at the end of this eventful journey, which is the beginning of something in many ways, trust will be established, the bonds that unite them will be strengthened, and it is together that they will manage to face adversity. I like to see it as a sort of blossoming, an enrichment that is simultaneously personal and mutual.
Can we talk about Christian Lo's style?
My style is close to realism, a realism tempered by tenderness and nuanced humour, sweet humour. I often discuss serious topics in my films, sometimes controversial ones. I deal with topical issues, such as harassment, bullying and the persecution of schoolchildren, such as in The Tough Guys [+see also:
film profile] (2013), or immigration and its painful consequences, such as in Rafiki (2009). It is the outlook that these young people have on the world in general, as well as that of adults that I offer to the audience. These themes, highlighted by characters that they will have no trouble identifying, really fascinate young audiences, just like the emotions of puberty that Punctured evoked.
How does work on set usually unfold?
In a relaxed atmosphere. Since I want my young amateur actors to be as natural as possible, I never show them the script. I am happy to just tell them the story, letting them draw inspiration from similar situations, rather than having them recite a pre-established text. Ready-to-use scenes that are repeated too frequently only harm spontaneity, the freshness of the game, the authenticity of situations, especially since my young actors are supposed to play on a range of emotions and feelings, some explicit, others somewhat subtler. A demanding way of working, perhaps, but one that has proven to work. I hope for the moment that Los Bando will be able to reach out to and make young people laugh and smile, as well as those who perhaps aren't so young.
(Translated from French)
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