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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Finland

Now in post-production, Claes Olsson's Yellow Sulfur Sky is “not your usual love story”

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- Set to be finished in February, the new Swedish-language film will tackle some weighty topics, such as love, friendship and – the scariest of all – class

Now in post-production, Claes Olsson's Yellow Sulfur Sky is “not your usual love story”
Yellow Sulfur Sky by Claes Olsson (© Solar Films)

Based on a novel by Kjell Westö, Yellow Sulfur Sky is currently in post-production, with work on the sound mix set to coincide with the Finnish film's bow at Göteborg's Nordic Film Market. Produced by Jukka Helle and Hanna Virolainen, of Solar Films, as well as the director, Claes Olsson, it promises to dig into decades-long relationships, especially the one between Frej and Stella.

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“It's quite a complex story, with different characters as they meet and become friends, or even enemies later on – as happens sometimes when you get older,” Olsson shares with Cineuropa. “The main character, Frej, meets Stella when he is around 17 or 18 years old. Their relationship goes up and down, like a roller-coaster. They love each other, then hate each other, and so on.”

With the cast including the likes of Nicke Lignell, Linda Zilliacus and Pekka Strang, the film was shot in Swedish – Olsson's mother tongue and also the language of the novel. Starting in the 1970s, it promises to take its protagonists through the decades that follow, as times change and, most of all, so do they.

“I am still very familiar with the 1970s and 1980s, so the right locations and props were very important. As the action goes back and forth, I wanted to show it in a visual way without explaining too much. I would rather let the spectators feel it through the colours and music,” points out Olsson, also addressing the myth of “the one that got away”. “In real life, you also probably know someone who always keeps talking about his or her first love. It follows you your entire life! Many of my friends, once they divorced, decided to go back and look for that person. And now they are together, again! It moulds you – it's such a big experience.”

But although their affection is undeniably strong, Frej and Stella encounter many difficulties along the way, and the fact that they come from two different worlds doesn't help. “Stella comes from a very wealthy, upper-class family. Frej is from a lower class, and his father hasn't been very successful in his life. When he falls for her, her environment is something he finds exotic, but he also longs for it, in a way.” He dreams of becoming a writer, and while his first novel is a success, following it up proves harder than expected.

“I do see it as a film about class distinction and how we are all rooted in it,” adds Olsson. “It's a part of your history, and it's difficult to get rid of. I come from a middle-class family, and I went to school with a lot of rich kids: I am familiar with this situation and this ‘social game’ that starts early on. Which is one of the reasons why this film may be about love and friendship, but I don't see it as your usual love story. I think it has more to do with why these bonds are so important and yet so difficult to hold on to.”

The international sales for Yellow Sulfur Sky are currently handled by Solar Films and Smile Entertainment.

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