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San Sebastian Talent: Hanna Skold on ‘Granny’

‘Granny’s Dancing on the Table’ Bows in fest’s New Directors section

Produced by the Sweden-Denmark based Nordic Factor, whose short, “Listen,” won Tribeca this year, and co-produced by Film I Skane, “Granny’s Dancing on the Table,” the sophomore outing of Hanna Skold (“Nasty Old People”) bowed at San Sebastian’s New Directors sidebar, a competition for bubbling-under international talent. It has now hit the fest circuit, playing Seden’s Goteborg Festival.

“Granny” is a dramatic coming-of-ager with comedic overtones that blends live-action and stop-motion. It turns on 13-year old Eini who lives under the thumb of a tyrannical father in the depths of the Swedish forests. She will find hope and strength remembering her grandmother, a rebellious artist.

TriArt is the Swedish distributor. Skold’s debut, “Old People,” turned on a Nazi little girl who takes care of four bad-tempered old people. The pic was the first Creative Commons licensed film to come out of Sweden and has been seen in 113 countries, according to Nordic Factory. With “People,” the audience participated in the distribution by translating the subtitles, organising screenings, and donating money to the film.

Producer Helene Granqvist explained that “Granny” was financed through a traditional structure – cash from the Sweden Film Institute and two regional funds. In addition, pic attracted 928 investors from a Kickstarter campaign.

“Both Hanna and I want to continue and develop the relationship with the audience, out of the box, like we did with our previous movie. We realized with ‘People’ that there are a lot of people out there who want to participate in the distribution process. We hope that we can create possibilities for our audience to be part of a movement around this film, too. The subject dealt with in the film – domestic violence – is so important but also so difficult to talk about. If our distribution process could be a tool to get this subject on the agenda, we will have succeeded with the film.” Skold talked to Variety about the film’s international reception at Toronto, crowdfunding, and coming of age:

“Granny’s Dancing on the Table” world-premiered in Toronto, how do you evaluate the audience reaction?

It seemed to me that many people in the audience were very touched, and moved after the screenings. Also, the questions from the audience actually made me discover new layers in the film and understand dimensions I didn’t really interpret before. It is so wonderfully exciting when that happens through an audience encounter.

“Granny” was financed with the Swedish Film Institute and regional funds and 928 investors via your Kickstarter campaign. Has the crowdfunding coin been decisive? Are these investors going to participate in its distribution strategy?

Crowdfunding was extremely decisive, since we actually shot almost half of the live-action material thanks to this money, and after the shooting of this part we got funding from SFI and the regional funds. So without our backers the film couldn’t have been done. Also, the constant support from our backers, throughout the whole process, and after the campaign, was very valuable.

The live action and stop motion mix gives an intimate tone –very appropriate in an environment of extreme isolation — to this coming-of-age story. What do you think is the main target for the film?

On the one hand, I think this film will appeal to people who are interested in policy change regarding the issue of domestic violence. This is a question we seem afraid to collectively talk about. It makes us uncomfortable, but at the same time I feel there is an extremely large underlying need to talk about such experiences. I simply hope the film could be a catalyst for people to keep talking about domestic violence.  On the other hand, I believe the fairy-tale layer will be appreciated by those who love tales and enchanted reality realms.

The use of animation looks very productive to me in terms of style, point of view and even for production reasons. What reasons persuaded you to use it?

Animation serves perfectly as an enchanted layer, for the feeling that there is a mysterious reality, somewhere in between sleep and wake, something that touches memories, longings, what’s been forgotten, and the subconscious. Granny is actually the power of the subconscious, the recourse for survival that Eini conveys, and we all convey, and I wanted to find a way to approach those thoughts through a child’s wisdom.

At the same time, the simplicity of the animation is for me an effective way to tell the story of brutal events. The dolls have to bear parts of the violence that men carry out, somewhat like when a child uses her dolls to play, in order to shape and process difficult events in life.

“Granny” shows how imagination and freedom -even humor- can triumph in an environment of violence, isolation. Do you feel Eini becomes almost a woman by the end of the movie?

Yes, by the end of the movie Eini has got in touch with so much of her inner resources, in the shape of imagination, but also through her connection with nature. So she is able to escape violence. But somehow she has also lost some of her innocence, and she herself almost becomes a danger for other people and society. But the loss of innocence is in some way also part of growing up.

Your previous movie – and debut – “Nasty Old People” took a Creative Commons license — in fact it was the first Creative Commons-licensed film to come out of Sweden– and it was available for free on sites such as The Pirate Bay. How do you now evaluate that move?

Even though it was a controversial move, I believe it was really great for that film, since a very small, underground movie was able in that way to reach a far bigger audience than it would have through regular distribution. Also, I did it because I believe in sharing stories with other people. If more people share more stories, together we create a bigger perspective of the world, and we need that.

Do you already have any other film dancing in your mind?

My next movie takes place in a discount market in a low-income area of Sweden, and it will address issues such as class, and how we do things contrary to our conscience, in order to maintain an organisation that oppresses us, because we think we have no choice.

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