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TORONTO 2019 Contemporary World Cinema

Daniel Joseph Borgman • Director of Resin

“Love without the potential for freedom becomes toxic and, ultimately, destructive”

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- We chatted to New Zealand-born filmmaker Daniel Joseph Borgman about the secluded, broken paradise depicted in his third feature, Resin

Daniel Joseph Borgman  • Director of Resin

Best known for his previous, Berlinale-premiered works The Weight of Elephants [+see also:
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and Loving Pia [+see also:
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interview: Daniel Joseph Borgman
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, New Zealand-born filmmaker Daniel Joseph Borgman creates a secluded, broken paradise in his third feature, Resin [+see also:
film review
interview: Daniel Joseph Borgman
film profile
]
. After its world premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema section of the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (5-15 September), we talked to Borgman about the challenges of telling his story, the meaning of paternal love and his experience working with his lead actress.

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Cineuropa: How did you get involved in telling such a compelling story, and what drove you to bring it to the big screen? Did you face any challenges during that process?
Daniel Joseph Borgman
: The story, which is completely fictional, is based on the book Resin, written by Anne Riel. I was fortunate enough to have the project offered to me by Louise Vesth and Peter Albæk at Zentropa, and to make it with my long-time producer Katja Adomeit. The trick was finding a way to make the story my own. What I was attracted to were the elements of nature in the story, the grotesque and the beautiful, and the way that they mirrored the father-daughter relationship. It’s one that is full of beauty but has the potential to become very dark.

The father in the story creates a claustrophobic and secluded environment in the depths of the forest. Was it hard for you to “recreate” this secluded paradise?
It was really important for me to be able to spend a lot of time in the location, and I especially wanted everything in the picture to be presented alive. So we built a complete small house in a large swathe of a Danish forest, and our accommodation was just a couple of metres away from the set. In that way, we were able to be immersed in the environment a lot, to spend time in nature, and to have a proper process in terms of figuring out how to shoot on location and what the surroundings were like. Also, I personally spent a lot of time walking around in that space, and in that way, we were able to adjust the details. Somehow, everything grew before our eyes, just like a garden.

Resin is an extreme story of a father’s love and affection; what does this love mean to you?
Yes. I think, most simply, it’s about realising that love must also mean freedom. Love without the potential for change or freedom becomes toxic and, ultimately, destructive.

How was your experience working with your lead actress, Vivelill Søgaard? Was it easy for her to adapt to such a demanding role?
Vivelill is an amazing young actress. We spent a lot of time helping her to find the tools she needed to do the job, but at the end of the day, it all came from within her. If she didn’t have it in her, she wouldn’t have been able to do it. The shoot was tough, but we had built up a lot of trust, and made sure to keep things fun between takes and off-set. Vivelill is a big fan of nature, and also, I think she could see a lot of herself in Liv’s character. In addition, her family is incredibly supportive, and she is a very well-balanced person, so I think that allowed her to tune in and out of her character without it being too overwhelming. Her wellbeing was the main priority for everyone on the team.

Judging by this and your previous work, you tend to be inspired to narrate more extreme stories. What drives you to tell such tales?
I’m not sure if I’m driven to tell extreme stories. But I am driven towards outsiders, and definitely towards finding beauty in the ugly, and vice versa. I kind of want to take things that, on the outside, seem simple and to complicate them, and I think it’s possible to find empathy in the darkest of places, so I guess that’s what drives me: a search for the light in all the darkness.

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