A Chat With Björn Runge...
Swedish director Björn Runge has won a clutch of awards in his homeland. On a limited budget, he brought together an amazing cast for DAYBREAK which went on to win a prize at last year's Berlin Festival. FilmExposed’s Amanda Egbe talks to him…
Daybreak is an ensemble piece, did you write it with certain actors in mind?
I wrote the manuscript for a few particular actors. I had contact with various actors before the script was finished. We discussed and rehearsed together. I was interested that actors could bring to the role their own life experiences.
The atmospheric cinematography seems to highlight the deep underlying dissatisfaction that these characters have with their lives, do you think the look of the film is akin to something of a Swedish or Scandinavian aesthetic?
Because we had a limited budget and a tight schedule, I decided together with the cinematographer, Ulf Brantås, to film long sequences without interruption. To do this we used lighting that utilised natural sources, at the same time incorporating hand-camera. Our greatest sources of inspiration were the films of John Cassavettes.
The image of Sweden you portray highlights the underlying emotions and problems that people face. Do you feel that these are important concerns that filmmakers need to comment upon today?
I believe that people are similar regardless of their country of origin. Relationships between people are always important to portray. All types of human behaviour are interesting to explore. When I wrote the script I relied on past experiences and memories. I tried to be as honest to myself when I began the film.
The film has been well received in Sweden and internationally, did you expect such accolades when you begun the project? And does it put pressure on you for future projects?
There were few people who believed in the script. I was no longer considered important in the Swedish film industry. So this film was a kind of come back, which gave me extra confidence in my own storytelling abilities. I don't feel any pressure since I've been working in difficult circumstances for many years.
Do you find making films for cinema different to working in television?
The biggest difference is size; a picture on the big screen has a completely different power that one on a small screen. A facial close-up on a cinema screen is far larger than life, whereas on a TV screen a facial close-up is much smaller than an ordinary face; this has great importance to me.
Do you see yourself flirting with the possibility of working in Hollywood or with Hollywood stars like some of the Danish filmmakers of recent years have?
Danish filmmakers have failed in their attempts to make English speaking films. Swedish film directors find it easier to adjust. For me this could depend on cultural differences and a longing to get away from the stifling Swedish film industry.
Have you any plans for your next feature film?
My next film has already been shot and edited. The Swedish premier is booked for this coming December. The title is Order Of Love and is about a seventeen year old girl who lives with an older criminal, and the girl's parent's struggle to get her back.
Where do you see the future of Swedish cinema at home and internationally with Ingmar Bergman having made his last film, and yourself and the likes of Lukas Moodysson being considered as the new generation?
There are a new generation of filmmakers in Sweden who work together with each other instead of working in isolation. But I belong to a generation of Swedish filmmakers who are as alone and isolated in their work as a contract killer!