Anne Sewitsky studied at the Norwegian Film School and has directed episodes of the series “Himmelbla,” “Norwegian Cozy” and “Helt perfekt.” Her debut feature, “Happy, Happy,” (2010), won the World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance and was followed by “Totally True Love” (2011). “Homesick” (2015) is her latest film. (Press materials)
“Homesick” will premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 15.
W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.
AS: “Homesick” tells the story of 27-year old Charlotte, who is longing for strong family bonds and acceptance, and therefore decides to reach out to her half-brother, whom she has never met. She struggles to escape her family’s past and to change her seemingly inevitable fate. It’s a quite unusual family drama.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
AS: I liked the thought of exploring how far someone would go to belong somewhere. There is a huge amount of shame connected to the feeling of not being loved, because love and family, biological or not, confirms our existence. Everyone needs to be seen, accepted and loved. Take, for example, a baby. Studies say great harm can be done to a person if the connection between mother and child isn´t there from the start. Love is a basic need/instinct, and people can get quite desperate and become destructive if they don´t have it. In “Homesick,” sex becomes an expression for this longing.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
AS: Probably editing. It was very intense. I somehow foresaw this already in the writing of the film, since there were many structural possibilities. And also while filming, I did variations that were left open for editing. So, of course, there was a huge amount of material. This film has been quite fragile. It was easy to get lost along the way.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
AS: I hope the audience will relate to the shame of loneliness. I know my own intentions, but it’s a bit difficult to predict specific reactions. But it will definitely be interesting hearing them.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
AS: A lot of times, films tell stories about the time we live in. So when making history, it´s just as important to give the female perspective as well as the male. We need female voices. Take a risk. Be personal.
W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?
AS: I don’t know if it’s a misconception, but I often get asked why I always make stories about family and love. Over the years, I´ve also directed commercials, a children’s film, and TV — dramas (both comedic and darker), because I always feel the urge to go in a different direction with my next project. For example, later this year, I will direct a Norwegian thriller. It´s a TV series for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK. After that, I´ll do a period biopic about Sonja Henie, the mesmerizing Norwegian figure skater and Hollywood star.
So yes, some are about family and love, but I´m drawn to stories for several other reasons as well. I need to be hooked. And I need to find a personal link or inspiration. Without it, there is no point.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
AS: “Homesick” is the first out of three films with production support from the Norwegian Film Institute’s slate funding. The slate was awarded to producer Synnøve Hørsdal/Maipo Film and myself in 2012. Additionally, our distributor (Nordisk Film) has been supportive along the way. Still, it was a long journey to get it made because of the controversial theme of the film.
The characters go to quite extreme means to get what they want. There are some very explicit intimate scenes that could potentially create controversy. But the theme of the film was universal and something one could connect with — the wish to belong to something or someone. And fortunately, the funding came through.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
AS: Lone Scherfig. She´s a Danish director who has a great eye and love for her characters. Sofia Coppola, because of her artistic sensibility and the coolness in her films. Also, I just finished a HBO miniseries, “Olive Kitteridge,” which was directed by Lisa Cholodenko. I was stunned by the preciseness and complexity of the characters. Fantastic show.