Paul Tunge • Director of Du
"I opted for a circular narrative as opposed to a traditional linear form"
- On the occasion of the third Oslo Pix Festival, the Norwegian director Paul Tunge introduced us to his fourth feature film Du, an independent film selected for the official competition
With Du [+see also:
interview: Paul Tunge
film profile] comes the portrait of a couple who are confronted with the complexity of their relationship; a man and a woman overcome with frustration. They avoid each other’s eyes. Their words ring hollow. Have they reached a critical moment in their life as a couple, as seems to be suggested by the insistent close-ups, the juxtaposition of seemingly repetitive scenes and the square photography format which traps and suffocates the characters? The story unfolds amidst an enchanting décor, belying a dramatic plot which is unintentionally – or perhaps intentionally - punctuated by touches of humour. Du is currently competing in the 3rd Oslo Pix Festival (running 3-9 June). Indeed, this is the third time that the film’s author, Norwegian director Paul Tunge, has taken part in Oslo Pix. Du, which he produced himself, alongside Alexander Kristiansen, on behalf of production company Filmavdelingen A/S, also features in the line-up of a newly created section of the festival dedicated to independent Norwegian cinema.
Cineuropa: Du... It’s a short and direct title which is gentle yet aggressive. Why did you choose this title for your fourth feature film? Was it to get us thinking? Or to awaken our consciences?
Paul Tunge: It’s the international title. This little Norwegian word simply means “you”. It’s a type of interpellation, which is perhaps ambiguous, but for me, this term brings to mind a somewhat hazy form of communication, and a certain sense of distance.
How do you live?
To make a living and to fund my films, I regularly take part in a variety of film projects, mostly as a set manager or an assistant director. I’m quite well organised. Being limited from a financial point of view means having to think quickly and act quickly. There’s no time to prevaricate. But the very simple means of expression which are imposed by a tiny budget don’t necessarily lead to films which are any less rich in content. On the contrary, this allows for greater freedom, and a certain kind of purity which I aspire to and which is crucial when making a minimalist film like Du.
Minimalist… How so?
There were just three people in the team: the two actors Maria Grazia Di Meo and Jørgen Hausberg Nilsen, and me. I did almost everything, in fact, apart from the grading and the sound design. I spent around a dozen hours writing the film, two days travelling, five filming by way of a C300 camera and two weeks editing. It was a domestic décor stripped down to the bare essentials, There was no music. I actually drew inspiration from the Dogme95 movement initiated by Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg.
You pay special attention to the structure of the film…
It’s essential. There’s no chronological order to the story. I opted for a circular narrative as opposed to a traditional linear form. I decided not to re-work the script too much and, as the actors never really knew what point of the story they were in as they acted each scene, it sometimes made them uneasy and somewhat anxious. This particular way of working can be destabilising, admittedly, but it allows me to keep things fresh and to reconnect with the joy I derive from the act of creating. As we were together almost all the time – given that the filming days were very long – it created a certain dynamic, a constant renewal of motivation, which was especially pleasing.
Can we talk about your favoured themes?
I don’t have any favoured themes. I don’t like to proclaim definitive truths. Whatsmore, I can’t give any answers or offer any solutions. I’m in movement, I’m evolving. In fact, I don’t even look to present problems or to ask questions. The point of Du isn’t to talk about any one particular human relationship.
In that case, what were your reasons for making this film?
The relationship between the characters allows me not to analyse, but to allude to certain tendencies which take precedence in our western societies: selfishness, narcissism, the race to achieve success, the roles that some of us are made to play. What I wanted to do, for example, was to highlight how mobile phones and social networks can harm human relationships, which are slowly being stripped of their sincerity, of mutual respect and of love in this superficial world which is rich in banal distractions and where we tend to prioritise the self over any notion of “us”. I also wanted to draw attention to our contradictions, to the difficulties these characters experience in communicating. But it’s the form that interests me most of all and what I wanted, first and foremost, was to ensure that Du was an artistically ambitious film with an eye for the aesthetic; a film which wanders off the beaten track.
(Translated from French)
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