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HAUGESUND 2019 New Nordic Films

Guro Bruusgaard • Director of Him

“We tell our stories and we greenlight ourselves, whether the film institute is on board or not”

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- We spoke to director Guro Bruusgaard about Him, the winner of the Eurimages Lab Project Award in Haugesund last week

Guro Bruusgaard  • Director of Him

Him, the upcoming first feature by Norwegian director Guro Bruusgaard, takes places in modern-day Oslo over the course of one day and follows three males of different ages and in different circumstances. Set to open in 2020, the project was launched and executed though Alternativet AS, a production collective co-founded by Bruusgaard. At last week’s New Nordic Films market in Haugesund, Him won the Eurimages Lab Project Award, which comes with a prize of €50,000 (see the news).

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Cineuropa Survey 2020

Cineuropa: Congratulations on winning the award. Do you already know how you will put it to good use?
Guro Bruusgaard:
I just know that it will be put to use. Half of the film has been completed with development money from the Norwegian Film Institute, but without a formal, final green light or completion money. We will shoot this autumn, independently, with private money from ourselves and from actors who are investing out of their own pockets. This award will help financially, but I’m also pleased that this Norwegian story managed to please an international jury.

Your production company, Alternativet [“The Alternative”], sounds quite guerrilla.
It is, at least partly. But we put everything in print with proper contracts, we pay the correct salaries to all involved, and we do everything by the book. And we hope and think that this film will do quite well, and that we will all make our money back. There are four directors: Mariken Halle, Magnus Mork, Katja Eyde Jacobsen and myself. Magnus, Mariken and I attended the Valand Academy in Gothenburg, and Katja went to Lillehammer and is also the director of the Nordland Art and Film School. We started our collaboration in 2017 with the aim of controlling the artistic process with no participation, support or interference from large production companies. We get our support from within the group, which means a lot.

And two years later, you are completing your first feature. Are other ones also on their way?
They are. Mariken is finishing off the final editing of We Are Here Now, which will open this spring. Katja is working on The Second Sex, which will be produced by Mer Film and co-produced by us. Our very first production was a short film by Magnus called The Forest. Magnus has done several acclaimed shorts throughout the years, has been to Berlin and Sundance, and has won an Amanda Award. I worked on the editing on Magnus’s film, and in Mariken’s movie, both Magnus and I have acting parts. So the support is quite hands-on and overlapping – like a true, classic collective.

You have probably answered at least half of the question, but how is it being a filmmaker in Norway these days? Is there anything that you miss?
I miss – and this is why we started this collective – the fact that I was less dependent on the national film institute and their opinions. Also, the support system, although it’s getting better, has been quite behind the times when it comes to the representation of female filmmakers. We are pretty bad when it comes to gender parity in Norway. The fun thing with film is that we like to identify with the stories and the characters – not always, but at least sometimes, right? In our collective, we tell our stories and we greenlight ourselves, whether or not the film institute is on board, and whether or not we win a prize like this – as if one should need it at all in order to get approval! Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy, but I knew the film was great already. And I’m thrilled to get the money because we don’t have that much of it.

Is your collective open to new associates?
Actually, this is also part of our vision – we own our own projects once they are finished, so the joint venture exists only during production. Right now, we are collaborating with a young filmmaker, Marin Håskjold, who is making a short film. She is producing, but we aid her and lend our name to the production. But once she’s done, the film is hers. It’s very non-capitalist. We won’t grow, but we do hope to exist for some years to come.

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