When Anne Sewitsky brought her directorial debut, a comedy called “Happy, Happy,” to the Sundance Film Festival back in 2011, she managed to walk away with the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize — making her the first Norwegian filmmaker in the festival’s history to take home this honor.
This year, Sewitsky returns to Sundance with “Homesick,” a mournful character drama. It’s quite a change of pace from “Happy, Happy,” but you know what they say, funny people are oftentimes the best people to tell a sad story.
What is your film about in 140 characters or less? “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 who she has never met. She struggles to escape her family’s past and to change her seemingly inevitable fate. It’s a quite an unusual family drama.
Now what’s it really about? It’s about the shamefulness of not feeling loved. 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. So basically, it’s about loneliness.
Tell us briefly about yourself. I’m a Norwegian director and writer. “Homesick” will be my third feature. To me, directing always includes anxiety, because it involves being personal and taking risks. It´s about finding the right balance and finding precision so that people can relate.
What was the biggest challenge in completing this film? Probably the edit. It has been the most intense in my experience. I somehow foresaw it while writing of the film — there were many structural possibilities. And also, while filming, I did variations that I left open for the edit. And of course a huge amount of material. This film has been quite fragile. It was easy to get lost on the way.
What do you want Sundance audiences to take away from your film? Most people have hidden longings. Destructiveness isn’t always visible. Maybe I hope the audience will feel and relate to the shame of loneliness? Bla bla. Hard question, hehe. I know too much about my own intentions, so therefore a bit difficult to predict or wish too much for specific reactions. But it will definitely be interesting to hear them. Nervous!
What’s next? Coming up first is a Norwegian thriller. It’s a TV series for Norwegian Broadcasting, NRK. After that, I´ll do a period biopic on Sonja Henie, the mesmerizing Norwegian figure skater and Hollywood star.
What cameras did you shoot on? Arri Alexa, using Technovision anamorphic lenses.
Did you crowdfund? If so, via what platform. If not, why? “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.
Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.