Mia Engberg • Director of Hypermoon
“The audience deserves to be free of me now”
by Jan Lumholdt
- We asked the Swedish director just how personal she wanted to get in part three of her celebrated Belleville trilogy
As Sweden’s Mia Engberg delivers part three of her celebrated Belleville trilogy in the Nordic Documentary Competition of the 2023 Göteborg Film Festival, several questions immediately spring to mind. Like: how personal did she want to get this time? Or exactly what kind of animal is a Hypermoon [+see also:
interview: Mia Engberg
Cineuropa: The last time we talked about your Belleville trilogy, we confirmed that Belleville Baby [+see also:
film profile] was named after Baby the cat and that Lucky One [+see also:
interview: Mia Engberg
film profile] was named after Lucky the hamster. You also promised a third pet animal for the final film. What kind of animal is hiding inside of Hypermoon?
Mia Engberg: Well, that process has been a long time in the making… For most of the time, the film was called Blackbird. I even include a bird at the beginning, that one sharpening its beak against a mountain. Then, more time passed, and last year, a TV series called Blackbird turned up. As for Hypermoon – that’s me. That’s someone who doesn’t sleep at night. You may, of course, regard me as an animal of sorts, but that’s the best I could come up with this time around, I’m afraid.
Does that mean that Hypermoon is a more personal film than the two previous ones?
Not really. To me, all three films come together as one work. On the other hand, I’ve grown older, so the discourse has become calmer and more intimate. It’s less high-octane now than in Belleville Baby, and probably closer to the real me. I’m on the screen more as well, of course. And I get to go on a journey quite close to death, the exact nature of which I won’t disclose here – at the moment, it’s for those who will see the film to find out. But there was a point and a condition that I wasn’t entirely sure I would survive. And if that was to be the case, I had envisioned a film entirely with a black screen because at least there would be time to do that – a requiem of mine, containing only voices. But then, lo and behold, I was granted more time. And with this piece of good news, a love of the film medium returned, along with a joy of just cramming the screen with images and different picture formats, digging deep into my archives of filmed life.
We also finally get to see your perennial leading man, Vincent, in the flesh. That, in itself, is a lo-and-behold moment…
It is, isn’t it? And this is the reasoning: I have garnered a certain amount of faithful viewers over the years. They, and their patience, deserve a few shots of him, after all those blurry images, right? After Lucky One, where it’s quite hard to see anything, really, I wanted to open up, to seek out a glade in the forest. As for Vincent himself, there are some things that happen to him, again things that will not be revealed here, that made him more inclined to let me show him on camera.
You mentioned your personal archive of footage. How far does this collection go back in time?
Dear me… The footage of him and me together, both of us so darn young, is from 1994. I had just started my film education at the Institute of Dramatic Art in Stockholm, and got to borrow a camera and take it home for practice. So this piece of homework we see may well be some of the first filming I’d ever done in my life. And here we are, 29 years later… And there’s a lot more; I could probably make ten more films about my turbulent life, if I set out to do so.
A trilogy in four parts, at least? If you can break the rule regarding the animal names, why not stretch it out a little further?
Nope. The audience deserves to be free of me now, at least the “me” in these films. However, after finishing each movie in this trilogy, I’ve sat down and written a book each time, reflecting on the film at hand and the events surrounding its origins. I’m working on part three right now, which is called Darkness as Material. All three will be out in English in September. The packaging will be handsome, inspired by a beautiful 1976 edition of Peter Weiss’s The Aesthetics of Resistance. After that, I’ll do something else. I love change. I love looking forward. And I love my job.
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