Last year Stockholm world preemed Sofia Norlin’s “Broken Hill Blues,” the first film to come out of the festival’s fund for emerging female directors. “Broken Hill Blues” went on to the Berlin and Tribeca festival, while cinematographer Petrus Sjovik earned a Guldbagge Award, Sweden’s highest accolade.
The Stockholm Film Festival continues to screen female filmmakers. This year 60 out of 200 directors at the festival are women. The second feature to come from the fund is Amanda Adolfsson’s debut, “Young Sophie Bell,” above, premiering at the fest on Nov. 12.
The films come out of a successful program launched in 2011, when the Stockholm Film Festival introduced the Feature Film Award for female directors, with telecoms giant Telia as the main financier, and also with support from the Swedish Film Institute, Europa Sound & Vision and Dagsljus and with NonStop Entertainment as a distribution partner. In 2012 Swedish Television joined as a supporter.
Jon Asp talked with director Adolfsson during the festival about the fund and her her film.
How important is it to have a feature film prize exclusively for women directors?
I think it is a cool and important signal from the festival to really highlight how unequal this industry is. However, in the future, I wish it would be of less importance to emphasize gender, but to rather feature debutants in general. For me, the scholarship money has been extremely important and essential in giving this film the right start.
Tell us about the “Young Sophie Bell.”
It’s a coming-of-age story. To become an adult is very much about experiencing the mystery of life, for better or worse. You realize you’re mortal, how it feels to live. Someone let you down, you cheat, and you love. Young Sophie goes from being a naive girl to being thrown out into real life.
I love working with intimate situations, and I have a weakness for the beautiful, the sensual, and the poetic. At the same time I’m drawn to the brutal, the serious — and in this film I sought a feeling of mystery and destiny, feelings really essential to life and youth.
Any specific sources of inspiration?
I don’t want to compare it with other films, but during the process I’ve been inspired by Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s “My Summer of Love,” Carine Adler’s “Under the Skin” and Lynn Ramsay’s “Morven Callar.”
What has the Stockholm Film Festival meant to you?
Stockholm has meant a great deal to me. Since I’ve won the short film scholarship, 1 KM film, I’ve been encouraged by the festival. The fact that the festival, together with the other jurors of the scholarship, later continued to believe in me is of course incredible.
The cinematographer Petrus Sjovik also shot “Broken Hill Blues.” How did he come on board your film?
I already knew about Petrus — he has a great understanding and intuition, and I love his way of handling the Steadicam. Also, in “Broken Hill Blues,” his imagery has such a nerve. It contains both realism and poetry. When Petrus read my script we had a long conversation and I liked his questions and beliefs around the story.
You graduated from Dramatiska Institutet in 2006, traditionally the most highly regarded Swedish film school but recently criticized among the Swedish film industry and also by its own students. Were you happy with the school?
For me personally it was a great education. DI was my first encounter with professional film creators. By then I had no relation to the film industry. Still today the relations I built from school are very important to me. And since then I’ve worked a lot as a first assistant director, experiences that have strengthened me as a
Your short film “Spending the Night,” made after winning 1 KM film at Stockholm, was shown at the Berlinale in 2008. Will that be the next destination also for “Young Sophie Bell” (a film mainly shot and taking in Berlin)?
Of course it would be an honor to return there.