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TORONTO '08 DISCOVERY INTERVIEW | "Cold Lunch" Director Eva Sorhaug

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire September 2, 2008 at 12:28PM

EDITORS NOTE: For the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers in the Discovery section of the festival, which TIFF describes as a showcase for new and emerging filmmakers from contemporary international cinema.
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EDITORS NOTE: For the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers in the Discovery section of the festival, which TIFF describes as a showcase for new and emerging filmmakers from contemporary international cinema.

Having its International Premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival, Eva Sorhaug's "Cold Lunch" follows the paths of five characters who intersect in the Oslo district of Majorstua. TIFF describes that after one character, Christer, "disconnects a main fuse in his building in an attempt to save the rent money he mistakenly placed into the laundry, he sets off a chain reaction of consequential events that will change the lives of a caretaker and his daughter, and a new mother and her child." Sorhaug spoke to indieWIRE about "Cold Lunch," and her hopes for Toronto.

What initially attracted you to filmmaking and did that interest evolve while making your film?

Escapism. I grew up in the suburbs of Oslo with a small local cinema and a VCR player. I used to watch the same movie three times in a row at night. Afterwards I would hurry into bed so I could continue to dream my way inside the universe of the film before going to sleep. The world seemed so much bigger and more exciting than the one I was living in. When I became older it was the idea of mastering the art of storytelling with moving pictures that appealed to me.

Now, after having completed my first feature, I'm hungry for more. I feel I haven't even started to be honest. It was a great relief to do Cold Lunch. Translating my thoughts and ideas onto the screen and seeing how it works, was extremely exciting. So a definite YES, my interest evolved while making the film.

Please discuss how the idea for your film came about...

Both the writer, Per Schreiner, and I are fascinated by people's reluctance to change, and how that can be very self-destructive. So on this project I challenged Per Schreiner, to write scenes on the topic that would last for a minimum of three minutes in one shot. It is a continuation of our earlier work together. We have done several shorts in the past. He wrote some brilliant scenes, and we developed that into a feature screenplay.

We have also tried to go against as many traditional film conventions as possible within a certain degree. Like portraying characters that don't change, play with open structure where you don't get any answers at the end, leave out the background stories of the characters. Making unlikable characters come across as sympathetic and vice versa.

Please elaborate on your approach to making the film, including your influences as well as your overall goals for the project.

I wanted to create a beautiful visual universe where ugliness evolved. I focused on a cast with experience, but casted them in roles that are unlike their previous characters. Without extremely good acting I would not have a movie worth watching, particularly since most of the film is wide shots that last forever, I could never edit around the acting.

I composed the shots so that the audience felt that they where in the room as an observer, leaving them with no way out. I wanted people to feel the atmosphere and situations creep up on them. I paid close attention to art direction and wardrobe. Since the movie doesn't spell out who these people are it became very important to convey the characters through their personal style and living environment. Every little detail that could point in any direction as to who they were, I needed.

My overall goal was to make an art movie that didn't feel like one. To make it accessible to as many people as possible, without compromising the story and my artistic vision. I looked to several different directors while preparing for this film, some of them are: Tarantino, Altman, Kubrik, T. Anderson, Bergman and Baz Lurhman.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

Editing. I ended up spending time trying to intercut between the scenes, when the movie was directed and intended to let the scenes be played out in full. I ended up with a really bad screening before I managed to get back onto the horse and continue what I had started.

What is your next project?

I am not sure. I am trying to write a crooked Christmas story. But I am open for new exciting projects.

What are your goals for the Toronto International Film Festival?

My goal must be to get as many as possible to see the film, sell it and generate more work. And of course enjoy the festival.

Read all of indieWIRE's Toronto International Film Festival coverage in our special Toronto '08 section.]

This article is related to: Features, Interviews