Every year, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival collects a great selection of short films, made by film students and graduates from various countries of Europe. With their unique style, vision and brave mix of genres, the 10 newcomer directors of the Future Frames are showing a promising future for the European cinema. We made a short interview with all directors who got selected, meet Rebecca Figenschau, director of the short film Elephant Skin.
Director’s bio: Rebecca graduated in Directing from Westerdals Oslo ACT last year and saw her diploma film ELEPHANT SKIN selected for the competition in Haugesund and winning a prize for best acting at the 2016 Norwegian Student Film Festival. In 2015, she wrote and directed the short BLANK SQUARES and was subsequently selected as one of ten screenwriters for the national script development programme Visible Differences where she is now developing her first feature film.
Elephant Skin: After a tough breakup, Johanna returns to her abandoned childhood home,aiming to create a safe nest for herself and her son. But shortly after they start to settle, her father shows up. Full of contempt over his daughters sensitivity, he starts to toughen up his grandchild, arguing that this is necessary for him to become a survivor in life. A power struggle between father and daughter begins, and Johanna is challenged to stand up for what strength means to her.
What was your first thought when you realised you got into the Future Frames?
I was very surprised and humbled, and of course excited! It felt unreal in a good way.
How do you prepare for the festival? What do you expect from it?
I´ve been looking much forward to meeting the other filmmakers in Future Frames, and seeing their films. And I am always hoping to be inspired through lovely people and interesting films. Also looking forward to screening the film for such an engaged audience!
How is the film education in your school? Do you get funds for your short films there?
As I think it in in most films schools, it is much up to the student to grab the opportunities for learning. My school was very hands on which is a good thing; we were often given practical assignments and got to learn a lot through trying and failing, and experimenting in a safe environment. They funded our diploma film with some moeny, wich I am very grateful for! But it is valuable to know how to make good films on very low budgets, too.
How would you describe your film in one sentence?
Thematicly it is about discovering the strenght of daring to be voulnerable.
I found it very moving, how you showed the relationship-triangle between the father, the daughter and the little boy. How did you come up with the story?
My films are often based on memories and my own experiences, and this film is no excepetion. I started looking at my own relationship with my father and my own son, and as I raised him, I felt like a was confronted with a choice; I could show him how to be strong they way my father had thaugth me, or I could try to be even braver, and show him the strength of daring to truly feel.
The biblical elements – the prodigal daughter that returned, and the angelic little boy with the name Gabriel – were they intentional? What did you wanted to show through them?
I wanted the film to have a sort of timeless feel to it, and make the conflicts between the characters touch upon something excistential. In that sense biblical archetypes were an inspiration. Gabriel is to me representing something pure and fragile, that can easily be molded into different shapes, either hard or soft.
How did you find your actors? Do you prefer to work with professional or amateur actors?
I saw Iben (Akerlie, lead actress) in the norwegian film «Victoria» a few years ago, and thought she had a very intereseting look; there is something pure about her radience, and she has a very soft and vulnerable quality. We had another swedish actor signed for the male lead, but he got injured one week before shooting, so we were extremely lucky to find Björn on such a short notice, and he did a fantastic interpretation of the role. When I work with kids, I often prefer nonexperienced ones; the main thing I am looking for is the connection between us, and if they sensetive and able to focus their attention. Then I can work with them by letting them mirror my emotions, in stead of telling them waht to do.
How was the shooting? What was the most difficult part, and what is your favourite memory of it?
One of the actors got ill on the first two days of shooting, wich made the rest of our already very tight schedule insanely tight! But it was a good experience in the end, because we were all challenged to be creative in a more spontanious way in order to make it. And we became very tight as a team. I really enjoyed working with the little boy, and there were some magical moments with him, he was so open and present. Also the intensity of the shooting was quite a kick, we were all living togheter in small cabins and became a bit like a family.
What is your next film plan? Are you preparing for a short or a feature film in the future?
I am currently developing the script for my first feature film – exploring the journey of a little girl who slowly looses her mother to God. Very exciting process!
Director’s bio, short film summary, and photos from the official website of the Future Frames. More interviews are coming with the directors!