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Álfrún Helga Örnólfsdóttir • Directora de Band

"Son mujeres que aceptan el fracaso sobre el escenario"


- La directora islandesa nos invita a aplaudir a su propio grupo, The Post Performance Blues Band (ThePPBB), y no, no es una broma

Álfrún Helga Örnólfsdóttir • Directora de Band
(© Saga Sig)

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

In her documentary set to premiere imminently at Hot Docs, Álfrún Helga Örnólfsdóttir takes a look at her very own Band [+lee también:
entrevista: Álfrún Helga Örnólfsdóttir
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, as well as its many shortcomings. But she is ready to venture more into fantasy with an upcoming project called Shitballs, about rare species of algae in Iceland and a woman who loves plants more than humans.

Cineuropa: I am a bit conflicted about this interview. I’m afraid you will say this band doesn’t exist, and I really want them to.
Álfrún Helga Örnólfsdóttir:
It’s true, don’t worry! I get this question a lot: “Is it a mockumentary?!”

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We all grew up on Spinal Tap, after all. But did you try to play with that uncertainty?
It’s a dilemma for the band as well. When we perform, people are like: “Are you joking?” For us, it’s normal. We use humour a lot, even though we have a serious message: it’s women embracing failure on stage. Hrefna [Lind Lárusdóttir, another member alongside Saga and Guðrún Heiður Ísaksdóttir] is a master of that. I don’t know how she comes up with these lyrics. It’s the same with the film: we are not afraid of being vulnerable or showing all the ugly sides of life. It’s an actual documentary, but of course it’s playful – we are performers.

It might be because people tend to be very serious about success, or the lack of it.
For us, it has always been a way of surviving. When you are dealing with something painful, it helps when you can see it in a humorous way. And we can do it together. I wanted to show how problems, or even the most mundane things, can serve as creative fuel. Our lyrics are about our failures, so it all has meaning.

There are so many dreams in this film – the dream of making it as a band, your dream of making it as an actress. Some of these scenes feel very brutal.
I just have this relationship with rejection – it’s a theme. For actors, it’s normal. Some people find a way to cope with it, but I find it hard. At this point in my life, I have just had enough. I wasn’t planning on breaking down in the middle of the conversation with my agent, but it kind of happened. The audience can see what I am going through because, as a director, I wasn’t going to edit it out. I hope we haven’t “edited” ourselves out too much in general. We wanted to stick to the truth.

As women or girls, very often we are supposed to be “the sensible ones”. That’s why it’s always nice to see a group of women acting in a silly way.
That’s what the band is about. It’s about being playful, silly and beautiful. I often get these comments from older women who come to see us: things like “I love you!” I was wondering why it touches them so much, and that’s probably the reason. We can be crazy and all over the place, but women haven’t always been allowed to do that. They still aren’t, in some places in the world.

Such a big part of the film deals with failure, or waiting for that big break. But now, you are introducing the band to the world. It could change this narrative completely.
We have never been a successful band in Iceland, let alone the rest of the world. The good thing about Iceland is that it’s basically a village, and you can always perform somewhere. Still, it’s hard to break through, especially if you are a weird band, like we are. It’s really scary because we have never known success. I don’t know how we would deal with it, if it suddenly came our way. Maybe we are better off, playing in some small basement instead? And would the other girls want to reunite for that? We are on speaking terms, but we took a break. That being said, I am open to anything.

Did you actually break up at one point?
It wasn’t anything dramatic, but Saga wasn’t happy about doing that final concert, as you can see in the film. She is busy and not ready to fully commit to the band. It’s just a question of figuring out how to continue. Time will heal all wounds, I hope. They are coming to Hot Docs with me, and we will perform there. We even went to therapy together. All bands should do it.

What was the weirdest part about making this film and having to look at yourself, too?
It was agonising, sometimes. I felt like I was exploiting my friends, putting them in difficult situations. But a director can’t think like that – you have to be brutal. I wasn’t going to jeopardise the film: it needed drama. Sometimes, I just needed to say sorry afterwards. We are good at playing off each other, and we are used to being on stage, but at the beginning, we would never rehearse – that was our manifesto. We would improvise. It’s not like we are scaring our audience, but we play with their expectations.

That’s exactly what you do with this film. You are playing a game.
Absolutely. It’s in that grey area: “Is it true or not?” I like that tension; I find it exciting.

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