Mimmi Spång • Garagefilm International
04/05/2011 - “We want to tell simple and strong stories, rooted in our present, and with a distinct and personal return address,” said Swedish producers Rebecka Lafrenz and Mimmi Spång (Producer on the Move 2011), long-time partners in filmmaking whom the Swedish Film Institute (SFI) has selected as this year’s Producers on the Move.
“The choice is obvious. Without Garagefilm, their commitment, knowledge and courage, the Swedish film industry would be poorer,” said the Institute’s international chief, Pia Lundberg.
Spång and Lafrenz met at film school – Stockholm’s Dramatiska Institutet – in 1998. Upon graduation they were signed by Lars Jönsson’s Memfis Film, later to become freelancers with Garagefilm, which was originally founded by producer Malte Forsell and writer-director Håkon Lindhé in 2003.
Four years later the company was revamped. Spång and Lafrenz were now co-owners of Garagefilm International, which after a couple of shorts and a few co-productions launched their two features, Johan Jonasen’s Guidance [trailer] (2009) and Babak Najafi’s Sebbe [trailer] (2010).
“It is quite a step to move from shorts to full-length films – more than anything else you must create a solid trust in the story, in us as narrators, in the financing and in the execution,” they explained.
Screening in this year’s selection Cannes Junior, Sebbe was awarded a Guldbagge (Sweden’s national film prize) as well as the local critics’ Greta for Best Swedish Feature, having already won for Best First Feature at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival.
Najafi’s debut went on to score another 11 prizes on the international festival circuit, before Spång and Lafrenz received the Lorens Award from Stockholm Postproduktion at the 2011 Göteborg International Film Festival worth SEK 0.5 million (€56,011).
“We were all classmates at film school. Najafi had had the idea for a long time, and we – as producers – came across it when it was intended to become a novella film. We wanted to develop it for a feature.
“The theme is universal – leaving and departure. We thought there was so much nerve, energy and genuineness, and Najafi has an absolute sense of the natural expression as well as the poetic and cinematic view of everyday situations,” they recalled.
Starring Sebastian Hiorth af Ornäs, Sebbe is the portrait of a 15-year-old boy who lives alone with his mother in a small apartment. He escapes to the junkyard, where he uses his power to create, making dead things come to life. He feels free, but still alone.
Spending more and more time at the dump, Sebbe’s world shrinks, his indifference increases, and one day he is completely isolated without anyone except his mother. Then she fails him.
Spång and Lafrenz have several projects in development – “and we will certainly have a new film ready next year; but till we know which, we prefer to keep it secret.” Their line-up includes Mikael Marcimain’s feature debut Call Girl and Mårten Klingberg’s comedy, Cockpit.
In April, the SFI chipped in SEK 8 million (€896,188) in production support for Klingberg’s new movie about a pilot who loses his job, wife and house at the same time. As Maria, wearing a wig and a dress, he starts a new career.
The SFI is currently negotiating a new agreement with the government and the industry, which will define local film policy for the next four years. What’s needed? “In short: more money,” Spång and Lafrenz concluded. ”Cinema deserves a higher status in Swedish culture.”