Angelika Abramovitch • Director of Catcave Hysteria
"There is no place like the ladies' bathroom - that was something we wanted to capture in making this film. It was an utter joy"
- In her Future Frames-selected film, the Swedish director opens the door of a women’s bathroom, and shows life, love and sorrow all play out between the cubicles
With a background working for companies such as Vice and i-D, Angelika Abramovitch has had much success with her previous shorts, including the documentary Pappa (2019) which was shortlisted for a Guldbagge Award. Catcave Hysteria (2021) is her graduation film from the Stockholm University of the Arts. The film, which will screen as part of European Film Promotion’s Future Frames at the 56th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (1-9 July), examines the whirlwind of life that occurs in a female bathroom in a nightclub. Break-ups, hook-ups and mess ups are all evident as life changes within the blink of an eye. An immensely kinetic piece of work – despite its single location – Abramovitch creates a vivid film that combines humour and pathos whilst also busting stereotypes.
Cineuropa: What inspired you to make Catcave Hysteria in the first place?
Angelika Abramovitch: I’ve always wanted to make a film that is set in the ladies' bathroom because I know how special a place it is. It is a place where you can cry, laugh, be yourself. There is no place like the ladies' bathroom and me and Producer Hawa Sanneh and screenwriter Agnes Jeppson couldn’t agree more on that. That was something we wanted to capture in making this film. It was an utter joy.
I’m interested in the location. Did you find a place to shoot in or was it built specially for the film? Or a little bit of both?
All of it was built in a studio with design by the talented set designer Lisanne Fransen and the golden hands of Klara Söderqvist. To make it more personal and magical, the artist Alexandra Karpilovski did all the amazing artwork that reflects the inner journey of all of the characters.
The film veers between claustrophobia and oppression and wild energy and freedom. How was that translated in the shooting?
Me and DoP Malin LQ had to plan every single frame in detail before going ahead with the shoot. We also worked with Preview program where we could build the entire set digitally and walk through it with digital characters. I think that helped a lot. Malin is also very inventive with her angles so it was never a problem to get a nice frame because of the space.
It’s a bravura film with a female director telling female-led stories. In the era of reaching for diversity and expanding the scope of who tells stories, how important is it to you to tell stories from a female perspective?
I find it very natural. It kind of just happened that way, I never really thought about whose stories I wanted to tell. It was more like the stories that I understand and can feel inside of me. Those are the stories I want to tell.
Tell us about your expectations for Future Frames and Karlovy Vary.
It’s just an honour to be part of this fantastic thing and I know that I will meet so many amazing filmmakers and film lovers.
Do you have any ideas about your next project?
My next film will be called The Braid, it’s a folklore horror set in the woods of Sweden. We get to follow 10-year-old Isa whose mother slowly starts to get possessed by the mythical creature called Mara (The Mare). It’s planned to shoot next summer.
I also have a feature film in the pipes called A Soviet Love Story that is set in Crimea Soviet Union in 1968. It is based on my parent’s lives where my dad accidentally became a rock star by smuggling and learning Beatles music and playing it for all the Soviet holidaymakers. To them, THEY were the Beatles.
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