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TIFF ’09 | Matias Armand Jordal: “I wanted to do graffiti in the streets, but never dared”

TIFF '09 | Matias Armand Jordal: "I wanted to do graffiti in the streets, but never dared"

In Matias Armand Jordal’s “Together,” the tragic death of a mother causes her family to shatter when they struggle to cope with the loss. We gave Jordal and others a free-form style interview to gather their thoughts on their careers individual projects.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of interviews indieWIRE will be running with the filmmakers screening in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival’s Discovery program.


I was bored at school. Unless I had drawing on my schedule I skipped class and sneaked into the local movie theatre in order to watch the matinee show. The exit doors were always open, there were never any guards and I could just choose whatever auditorium I wanted. “Les Sous-doués” (“The Under-Gifted”) by Claude Zidi, is the film I have seen the most. I guess I identified with the under-gifted students in that movie. When the Hip Hop Culture came to Norway my drawing developed into graffiti. I became pretty good; but only on paper and on my bedroom walls. I wanted to do graffiti in the streets, but never dared. On my 18th birthday my father gave me a video-8 camera. This gave me the opportunity to be part of the action by filming it. After a while I quit school to film full time. I guess this was when I figured out that I wanted to make films.

Your Filmmaking Career and Process…

FACTS: Dramatiska Instituttet; Stockholm, Sweden. Film editing,1996-1999. Directed and written several short film. Directed commercials and TV productions. “Together” is my first feature film as a director and writer.

Norway didn’t have its own film school when I started, so I attended the Swedish film school, Dramatiska Institutt, in 1996 and graduated as a film editor in 1999. This film school was originally an Ingmar Bergman school. In the early years of the school they were looking for personalities that were like Bergman and they used personality tests that were based on Ingmar Bergman’s own personality. I never got to meet Bergman in person. That is mainly because none of us at school dared to seek him. His spirit had a grasp over the entire Swedish film and TV business and I think the people I met had a need to break with the film tradition he represented. It’s a little funny to study film in the country of such a film genius without studying his films. He was hardly mentioned by the teachers at school. The education was much more influenced by the Danish dogmefilms which had their breakthrough during that time.


For several years the Norwegian film industry has been criticized for not going into depth, but to just touch the surface of problems. I agree to this critique, and didn’t want to make the same mistake with my feature debut. I wanted to examine what happens when things really go wrong and how we react in a crisis. In order for the story to be believable I had to be truthful in my approach. I did a lot of research and talked to families that had been in similar situations. Everything in the film is based on real situations and people that I have met or heard about.

At the end of the writing process I invited the actors to participate in the development of their character. It was important for me to adjust the character to fit the personality of the actor in order for it to be as truthful as possible. For example the character of the son was originally written as an aggressive character, but Odin Waage’s personality, who plays the part, is much more sensitive so I changed the character to suit his personality.

When it came to filming the script I set up certain rules. The most important one was that the script was to be filmed chronologically and on location. None of the dialogue was to be rerecorded in post and the technical side of the production was not to dominate. The camera was not to dictate the actors’ position, but the other way around.

Your Influences…

The biggest influence comes from Danish films made between 1995 and 2006, the period after Dogmefilm. Other important inspirations are Francois Truffaut’s: “Les quatre cents coups” (“The Four Hundreds Blows”), Vittorio De Sica’s ” Ladri di biciclette” (”The Bicycle Thief”) and all the films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

The Future…

I am curious to see how the Canadian audience perceives “Together.” I am very glad to have been able to make this movie in the first place and it coming to Toronto is very flattering.

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