Your new movie Under
Gottsunda - what inspired you to make a movie about Gottsunda in the first
place, and what are your personal relations to Gottsunda?
At the time I would bike to nearby
Gottsunda everyday to leave my daughter in kindergarten. Once we rode past
a burned-out car and my daughter asked, well, if it had crashed. We took a
peek inside and there were burned books in the wreck, trying to see what
they said. Too see what lies beneath, to actually read the burned book.
have chosen a very poetic approach to your story (or rather stories) at
hand - care to elaborate?
I wanted limbo, I wanted the
poetic feeling of floating and sinking through the ground. It's all about
underground movements in Gottsunda, literally with kids hiding in the
sewer system and so on. So I worked a lot with slow motion, you would get the feeling that the
cast were trapped in mud or quicksand. On the audio side, Fredrik Hedlund
recorded and added dripping sewers, he was down in some hospitals basement
recording water and echo. But also ocean waves and bubbling underwater
currents. All things under the surface.
You can do so much with film, image and sound, you just have to dive into
your particular world. Stay true to your diegesis. Hardcore.
Gottsunda seems to wander a blurred line between documentary and
fiction - do describe this approach for a bit?
bits and pieces first, in the beginning it was more documentary style,
capturing the true essence of hanging around, wasting your youth I was
about to say, but that's what youth is for, floating around in this limbo,
to invent and form your identity you have to be set on part self-destruct,
part self-create. I tried not to interfere and just capture this.
the summer was coming to an end I realized I needed some dramatic
development, and I wrote these heightened continuations to their lives,
making their subcultures into extreme sports with rules and manifestos.
Some of the stories were written by the kids themselves, for example the
longboarder who's force-fed his mother's karma. That's Sergej's own
novella that he wrote on the Gottsunda Stories workshop. His entire
narration is freestyled, it comes from his own inner world, just not his
you tell us about all the people appearing in your movie, and how did you
Both the dancehall group Attitude Dance Crew and the
Russian martial artists in Systema I had seen showcases of in Gottsunda.
Longboarder Sergej and Palestinian Kerim both attended the creative
writing workshop Gottsunda Stories I was teaching. They went acted out
their own short stories and poems. When I was
street casting, the kids explained that they weren't involved in the
arsons. Every kid I met felt that they had to defend themselves against
that image. Arsonists, this was secondary school children.
prejudices of the suburb will even get internalized by those who live
there. Media uses them only for reporting about car fires and honor
crimes. It really
hit me, I realized that the media image must have gotten jammed in their
heads. Walking around with the burning cars in their psyche.
Do talk about the shoot as such for a bit!
The best thing about shooting a movie is when everything goes out of
hand in front of the camera. My favorite mistakes are:
When Vanco in one long rant brings up the high standards of
Sweden, how everyone is a fucking Rockefeller. Then I laughed so much
behind the camera that I had to stabilize the image in post. Completely
out of the blue, from Vancos mind.
When Kerim and Ibbe craft slingshots for the first time in their lives,
and they're the worst at it, they want to be like the children in Palestine,
but then they test shoot a pebble that drops right at their feet. "It
works, it almost works". Such a good reaction.
When the Systema guy almost breaks his neck, how scared we got.
Things that break through our defenses.
$64-question of course, where can one see Under
VOD - International VOD-premiere December 1st:
A few words about audience and
critical reception of your movie?
"It's shot in a fluid Christopher Doyle
kind of way ... brings in mind Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park and Elephant
..." - Jojjenito
"Right in the middle of a seductive
beauty and ugliness, where Bo Widerberg's sense of light meets the flow of
Falkenberg Farewell ..." - Expressen
Gottsunda reminds you of
Harmony Korines trashy fiction, or the mood of David Gordon Green's
George Washington. " - FLM
"Viktor Johanssons suggestive mix of
a political-realism documentary and dreamy fiction bears some thematical
resemblance to Clio Barnards The Selfish Giant." - Nöjesguiden
Any future projects
you'd like to share?
Last summer I shot my upcoming
feature Flogsta Heaven.
The summer before I rode my bike
to Gottsunda few nights a week, this summer I rode in the other direction,
with my camera backpack, to the student neighborhood Flogsta.
A bunch of students are studying
to become idiots. A different kind of student riot, with drops-outs who
give up all things education, and instead they return to being savages,
walking backwards, they spend three years to perform a perfect moonwalk
instead of becoming a bright future for this country. The motto is daft
punk instead of being so accomplished. Those who remain in the Flogsta apartment blocks, those who stay behind.
During the summer they start a cult. They stay in “the Flogsta roar”.
There's Arman who skips school
to go down in the same depression and paranoia that Michael Jackson had
when he invented the Moonwalk. A father walking around in Flogsta as
a guard, to make sure that no one kills themselves, as his son did. A
bunch of girls dumpster-diving for food, which they then have food fights
What got you into filmmaking to
begin with, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
I went to a folk university, maybe you
call it community college, in rural Fellingsbro. And learn from the local
masters who only had bee movies on their resume, haha. The teacher had
filmed an instructional video for bee keeping, so he was teaching the next
generation of film makers. But we lived like in a reality show couped
up with all the cameras and editing suites. It was great. Then I've been writing novels, and with
every book I've tried to adapt it into a movie, but fallen on the finish
line. After 8 years I realized I had to film it myself. So my latest novel
The Dark Sport is partly the basis of Under
Gottsunda, but things mutated,
came to life with the real stories of Gottsunda.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Under
In Fellingsbro I made the short film Cotton Candy. A girl
crouching under heaven, not to get caught up in the cotton candy, the
clouds that is. Before I found my mix between grit and poetry, I went all
in beautiful poetry narration with piano soundtrack, it was too much.
The girl is played by my little sister Linnea, and the best
scenes are when she was just playing around, looking into a black cat's
eyes, studying it. I have noticed that the best scenes occur when the actors get
to examine something, build something, like the slingshots from Under
Gottsunda, or get tangled into their own theories and argue amongst
themselves, spacing out high on wild blueberries, and just forget the
director. Actors think that I'm looking for something special, they
want to be good and do the script justice, but I am looking for mistakes
and true discovery. That's special.
This authenticity is what I've been struggling with in my
previous short films, The Tennis Boy (basis for my novel The Dark
and Webcam Girls (basis for my novel Wrestlers). All of a sudden, in
Gottsunda, the film was alive, and we all were alive that summer.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
The world of
Harmony Korine, Andrea Arnold, Terrence Malick, where actors actually have
a breath and trash is blowing around in the wind, and Werner Herzog's ecstatic truth.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Gottsunda these films really
meant a lot: Tim Sutton's Pavilion. David Gordon Green's George
Washington, James Clauer's Aluminium Fowl, Lance Hammer's Ballast and
Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep.
... and of course, films you really
Not deplore, but there are
blockbusters with so much lost potential, amazing worlds and mutant
identities just lost. For example, one day I will make a Ninja
Turtles magic hour skater film. Let's reclaim these blockbusters.
Let's make a Transformers movie where poor Detroit kids pimp left-over
cars into robot drones.I want to make fan films called Werner Herzog's
Bane, or Harmony
Korine's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Official site: http://undergottsunda.se/
Thanks for the interview!