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Per Fly • Director

Dogma’s golden era may be ending

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Per Fly • Director

The latest instalment in the trilogy on his country’s society by Danish director Per Fly centres on the middle class. After the poor of The Bench (2000) and the privileged of The Inheritance (2003), in Manslaughter [+see also:
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(see article) Fly turns his gaze upon the middle class through a professor forced to face his familial and political responsibilities and betrayals.

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"It is a film on deceitful relationships, on how many lies you can tell before you get caught,” says Fly, in Rome to present his film, which is being released on 10 screens in Italy on April 13 by Teodora. “Responsibility is essentially the key to the entire film".

Cineuropa: Responsibility and guilt. The main character is a "bad role model", an intellectual who justifies resorting to violence to defend ideals. Although later he repents.
Per Fly: I agree with his theoretical stance but I don’t believe in the practical action, in terrorism. Behind each act of violence lies a catastrophe, a drama. I can’t say that in some particular conditions, perhaps very serious and unbearable, I wouldn’t pick up a gun and fight, because I believe in fighting for one’s rights and for those of the weakest. But terrorism is nevertheless execrable, absolutely condemnable. I’m afraid of a return to the climate of the 1970s and this film almost aims to be a warning.

Carsten in his lessons says that a fight implies victims.
That’s the same thing Bush said before going into Iraq: if we want to build a democracy we have to accept that there will be victims. I wanted to talk about these victims, the ones who die. Not like they do in Hollywood films, but seriously. As part of my research I went to jails, I met people who committed political crimes and the victims’ families, I ventured into the darkest part of humanity to find out what truly lies behind a murderous act, to understand what happens in these cases.

How did you create the screenplay?
There was a long period of preliminary research for the entire trilogy. The screenplay for Manslaughter took a year and a half because we poured all sorts of diverse material into it before arriving at a final phase with Kim Leona. We furthermore worked on the characters with the actors. I talked and rehearsed a lot with the lead actor, Jesper Christensen. Lastly, there was also room on the set for improvisation so the screenplay was continuously changing.

The main character must confront three women, on an almost initiatory path.
That’s true. All films need a hero, and a dramatic one, and to become a hero must overcome diverse ordeals and show courage, wisdom and empathy. These feelings are found in the three women: the main character’s wife, the young terrorist and the wife of the murdered policeman.

Was the ending set from the beginning?
I always have a hard time finding an ending. Since the finale condenses what we can call the message I don’t want there to be an overly simple solution. The two previous films had a happy ending. Here I considered various endings, which can be seen in the DVD.

Danish cinema is doing very well at the domestic box office and many titles also work extremely well abroad. Why do you think it is finding so many receptive audiences?
The last ten years have been a kind of golden era, somewhat like what Neorealism experienced in Italy, but it seems as if we are now approaching the end of this era. Everything began with Lars von Trier, the driving force with Dogma and the film law that supported it: there was an opportunity to give money to directors, along with the possibility of deciding how to make their films. But something has changed now, the government thinks that 35% of Danish films in cinemas is not enough, and wants to arrive at 60%. However, cinema funding is changing and I don’t see how it can work. I don’t want to live in a country in which some people have fewer possibilities than others.

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