It’s the story of a town and some teenagers living in it. North of the Arctic circle, Kirunais a small community built around an iron ore mine, which is both its main economic activity and its throbbing heart. It feeds the town, but also gradually destroys the ground. In the film, some young boys and girls are about to take the leap into adulthood, while the ground literally trembles under their feet. They will fight with themselves and the world around them, learning to live, love and dream, while the city, also undergoing flux, is forced to relocate due to the mining explosions underground and forced to reinvent itself as a society.
What drew you to this story?
I wanted to do a film about youth in a time when society is shaking, economically and ecologically. In Kiruna, that’s literally the situation! I have kids myself, and I often wonder about how new generations will have to deal with what we leave behind.
What advice do you have for other female directors?
Just to go for it! It seems like simple advice, but I do think it’s the most important one. If there are films that you want to see on a screen, make them! I mean, we all know that it’s difficult to make films, especially for women, so that is even more a reason why one should just focus on the films and never give up. We need more women directors. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” as Gandhi said.
It’s also important to have a women directors’ network, close friends with whom you can discuss artistic issues, being a director, being a parent, the balance between film and family life, etc. I discuss this a lot with my male director friends, too!
What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?
I use this intuitive, very personal cinematographic language for narrating my film, building it more like poem than a novel. There are tensions between contrasts, harmony and violence for example, so the film is more like a song. It’s called Broken Hill Blues. But it’s not so strange, as narration goes!
Do you have any thoughts on what are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for films?
Film is a collective art form — not only its production, but also when we see the final film, together in the movie theater. I really hope that we’ll find good ways to reinvent the use and importance of movie theaters. Seeing films together, on a big screen, and being able to talk about the film with others afterwards, or simply just share a moment together — that’s part of the magic of cinema!
Name your favorite women directed film and why.
I’m very impressed with Jane Campion’s work, and the first film I saw was The Piano. It still touches me a lot for its sensuality, violence, beauty, and force. In all her films there is a kind of vertigo, a whole world of mystery, sexuality or despair and violence, opening up like a steep edge just around the corner of the smallest daily things, creating a constant intensity and vulnerability. Like life itself.
I love Andrea Arnold’s films for the rhythm, the characters and their lively force, and I love the sensibility and political dimension of Kelly Reichardt’s films. Another huge master is Claire Denis, especially with Beau Travail where she, with such a personal and experimental narration, makes one of the most beautiful and troubling films I’ve ever seen.