Frida Barkfors was born and raised in Sweden. One of the youngest ever to get accepted into the National Film School, she studied in the Directing Fiction Programme there. Her graduation film, Tick Tick Boom, won the Laterna Nordica and was nominated at Nordisk Panorama. It was also the National Film School of Denmark’s contribution for a Student Academy Award. She is currently working on her and her husband Lasse Barkfors’ second documentary feature, as well as her first narrative feature film. (Press materials)
Pervert Park will premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 23.
W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.
FB: It’s a documentary called Pervert Park that I directed with my husband Lasse Barkfors. It’s about a trailer park in Florida that houses around 100 sex offenders and their everyday struggle to make it back into society. It’s about the people behind the crimes – people that no one wants as a neighbor, and therefore have been moved out of society. Although many of their crimes are unspeakable, the film questions what we as a community gain from our willful silence. Regardless of how heartbreaking and difficult it might be, can we [stop] the cycle and culture of sexual violence by exploring the lives of sex offenders?
W&H: What drew you to this story?
FB: We felt it was important to paint an accurate portrait of the sex offenders we met in the park, as we had seen nothing like it described in the media before. We basically wanted to describe the different types of people we met in the park, gain insight into their everyday lives, and examine what put them where they are today and why they have committed their crimes.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
FB: How to listen to the sex offenders without minimizing their crimes or offending their victims. We had no interest in making a sensationalistic or provocative film, but we wanted to make a film that would hopefully show the complexity of the issue, nuancing the debate.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?
FB: I really don’t want the audience to have the feeling that they have been guided in one certain direction. Rather, I want them to feel that, by seeing the film, their views have been challenged. I would like for them to feel a bit shaken up and thought-provoked.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
FB: Be honest. That goes for male or transgender directors as well.
W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?
FB: I’m really happy about the audience reaction in Scandinavia so far, and now I’m just looking forward to seeing if it can spark a debate in the US on this very complex social issue.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
FB: The film took four years to make. We had some development funding from Denmark and Sweden in the beginning, but we met a lot of obstacles on the way. Much of it had to do with the sensitive subject matter and the fact that this was our first film. But we did have access. In the end we decided to shoot the film with very little funding, almost no money, and not enough to cover the trip, but access to all the equipment we needed thanks to the Film Workshop at the Danish Film Institute. So we sold off some stuff and borrowed the rest of the money to be able to go. When we came back from shooting, the film commissioner at the Swedish Film Institute gave us production funding straight up, and when we got as far as a rough cut, the regional Swedish fund Film i Skåne gave some more money. The TV channels in Scandinavia joined in as well. There is a lot of our own investment in the film that is not close to covered, though.