A Young Artist Slides Off the Grid in the First Installment of our New Film Series
Crisp mornings and solitary fireside evenings punctuate My Friend Kills Time, a contemplative short from emerging Norwegian filmmaker Jakob Rørvik that portrays a young man's self-imposed exile in rural Britain. The work’s star is Thomas Duggan, a friend of the director and a design graduate from Central St. Martins who has made sets for London theatre company Shunt, as well as his own products and installations such as chandeliers made from test tubes, sofas from hemp and trays of crystal-forming liquids that catch the light as they transform. In Rørvik’s film, however, he appears as a handsome man with high cheekbones and plush lips who attempts to go about a daily routine in an isolated cabin, whittling down his character to its core. Rørvik’s sensitive narrative films include Scratch, which won the Best Fiction award at the Aubagne International Film Festival 2010. My Friend Kills Time marks a step towards a looser and more documentary form of storytelling for the director—and ushers in NOWNESS' “Shorts on Sundays” series, dedicated to premiering innovative work from emerging filmmakers. As Duggan’s protagonist builds a house of cards and watches them collapse or drums his fingers on the table to pass the hours, the only interruption is the occasional ring of his mobile phone, reminding him of the outside world. “I wanted to bridge something naturalistic and spontaneous with something poetic,” explains Rørvik of his process, which involved working with Duggan to draw out a fictional character. “The idea of not being around people and the hustle and bustle of London frightened me. Questioning that fear was my starting point.”
Teenaged Life From the Rebellious to the Mundane is Poetically Captured in a New Short from Norway
Two girls find themselves locked in an Oslo public swimming hall and bond over school gossip, boys and dancing to the psychedelic sounds of Lindstrøm in Real Life Exp., an atmospheric slice of teen life from up-and-coming Norwegian director Kristoffer Borgli. After unsuccessfully trying to exit the 1960s-designed pool, the two bathing-suit-clad stragglers, played by 17-year-old Emma Aars and 18-year-old Molly Bring Uddén, pass the idle time in increasingly liberated ways, ripping up exercise books and rocking out. A collaboration with Nordic musician Lindstrøm's label Smalltown Supersound, the film took eight hours to shoot, and its meditative feel pays homage to the late Harris Savides, the cinematographer to Gus Van Sant and Sofia Coppola who passed away last November. “Everything he shot had an easy pace, almost as if the camera wasn’t there,” says Borgli, who has made music videos for Casio Kids and Young Dreams. Most recently, the filmmaker won Best Scandinavian Music Video and a UK Music Video Award for his witty accompaniment to DJ Todd Terje’s “Inspector Norse”. For his next project, Borgli has set his eyes on a feature. “More and more, the characters in my music videos have started speaking,” he says. “It has become less about how I write a story for the song and more about how the song can fit my story.”
Lindstrøm’s latest single, “Vôs-sâkô-kv”, is due out tomorrow on vinyl and download.
The Celebrated Filmmaker and Designer Olympia Le-Tan Co-create a Tale to Pierce the Heart
Designer Olympia Le-Tan's embroidered clutch-bags spring to life in director Spike Jonze’s tragicomic stop-motion animation Mourir Auprès de Toi (To Die By Your Side). On a shelf in famed Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company, the star-crossed love story of a klutzy skeleton and his flame-haired amour plays out amidst Le-Tan’s illustrations of iconic first-edition book covers. "It's such a beautiful and romantic place,” offers Le-Tan of the antiquarian bookstore. "The perfect setting for our story!” The project started after Jonze asked for a Catcher in the Rye embroidery to put on his wall and the plucky Le-Tan asked for a film in return. Enlisting French filmmaker Simon Cahn to co-direct, the team wrote the script between Los Angeles and Paris over a six month period, before working night and day animating the 3,000 pieces of felt Le-Tan had cut by hand. “I love getting performances from, telling stories about and humanizing things that aren’t human,” said Jonze of working with Le-Tan’s characters. After spending five years adapting Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, Jonze’s recent shorts include robot love story I’m Here and an inspired G.I. Joe-starring video for The Beastie Boys. “A short is like a sketch,” he says. “You can have an idea or a feeling and just go and do it.” Here the iconic director reveals his creative process to writer Maryam L'Ange.
How did the film come about?
I met Olympia in Paris through friends of mine. She was just starting to make the bags for her friends. She had a bunch of the scraps in her bag, all of the cut-out pieces of felt. I just loved it. I loved all the artwork she picked, the texture of it, the stitching of the felt. We joked about making a film and just went for it. It was this thing with no schedule, no pressure and no real reason to be—other than just that we thought it would be fun.
Did you write the story together?
Yeah we did. We would look at all the artwork over lunch whenever we would be in the same city, noting any ideas that would just make us smile. It was done like that, with no real plans.
What’s your creative process?
You just start with what the feeling is. For this one the feeling definitely started with the handmade aesthetic and charm of Olympia’s work. Instantly I had the idea of doing it in a bookstore after-hours, imagining the lights coming down and these guys off their books. Me and Olympia both wanted to make a love story, and it was fun to do it with these characters. It evolved naturally and it all just started with the feeling. From there you entertain yourself with ideas that excite you.
Do you go with your gut instinct?
If it cracks me up. We were talking about the skeleton coming off his book and the girl in the Dracula book waving at him. Olympia is someone who is just absurd, she’s used to just saying anything. She just started making the blowjob gesture as a joke to make us laugh but I was like, “We’ve got to do that.” It’s about taking things that could just be a joke while brainstorming and actually going for it and using it.
What inspires you?
People inspire me. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim [from Opening Ceremony] and the confidence and creativity in how they run their business. Pixar’s really inspiring, they make films in the best possible way. They’re always focused on story. I could list a million people that inspire me all the time. David Bowie’s music, Charlie Kauffman, David Russell. A lot of people that I work with too, just conversations I have with them about what we want to do.
To read an interview with Olympia Le-Tan about the making of the animation visit our Facebook page here.