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"I like scaring myself"

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Severin Eskeland • Director

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- Cineuropa met with Norwegian director Severin Eskeland to talk about his second feature film, Lust, which is being released in Norwegian theatres

Severin Eskeland • Director

It was his second feature film that Severin Eskeland recently presented at Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival, which hits Norwegian theatres on 21 April (Another World Entertainment). Lust [+see also:
interview: Severin Eskeland
film profile
]
, a short and tantalising title, for a film that is not so short and to the point, as it is a horror film. Lisa is the author of risqué crime novels, full of sex and violence. It’s a victimised Lisa that shows us the film, but who is she the victim of, what is she the victim of exactly? She finds help in the shape of her entourage, but doesn’t entourage rhyme with mirage? Moreover, is she really a victim? Cineuropa met with Eskeland, over the phone, as he was reshuffling the soundtrack, which wasn’t expressive enough for his tastes.

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Cineuropa: You put us into a huis-clos with Lisa.
Severin Eskeland: What I wanted to do was make a realistic and psychological horror film. It broaches problems that everyone is faced with, but that no one wants to talk about. On the surface everything seems well in our society, but in the privacy of our own homes, like in my film, lots of things can happen and do happen, there’s no doubt about it.

There is plenty of ambiguity in this film.
But make no mistake about my intentions. Of course, to convey the theme of the film as well as possible, to get my message across, with the assistance of my special effects director Per-Ingvar Tomren, I resorted to extreme methods which are strengthened by the background music, composed by Magne Steinsvoll. But my approach is not driven by commercial ends. It is a selfless approach. The violent acts I show are closely linked to the story, and justified by it: a young woman wants to avenge the physical and psychological suffering she has been subjected to. She feels destroyed, so I can understand her reactions.

Who are your actors?
The Swedish actor who plays Lisa, Magdalena From Delis, accepted the part because she understood my approach and wanted to go in the same direction as me. Damian Gallagher, who plays Martin, a friend of Lisa, is English, and the psychiatrist is played by actor Sondre Krogtoft Larsen, a Norwegian like the rest of the team. I’d already worked with Sondre: he was in my debut feature film Detour, which recounts the misadventures of a young couple lost in a terrifying forest.

How was your film born?
Through the failure of a previous project with a tight budget and a small team, that’s how the adventure of Lust began. To see filming through, which started in July 2015, we holed up for 15 days in a tiny apartment which was stiflingly hot. We all worked with the enthusiasm of volunteers. It was such intense work that I was forced to take a break straight after.

And what about the funding?
I put most of the money up, with the help of businesses and shops from Stord, the island in the west of Norway where I lived and where filming took place. We were given everything we needed: food, clothing, materials of all kinds. We never thought at the start that the project would reach this scale. So it wasn’t an issue of deadlines. Reinert Horneland and I simply thought we were making a film to promote our production company Eske & Horn. And then one fine day the distributor Another World Entertainment showed its interest, and new doors started opening up. At that point people were starting to take us seriously, and large-scale distribution started to become a possibility.

The aesthetics are also important to you.
Of course. The general colour of Lust is a greeny verdigris on which there are splashes of wine red, blood red, among others. As you know, real blood cannot be used on set: it clots very quickly, it smells bad, and the colour is hardly ever satisfying.

Not very appetising…
For you perhaps not, but with this blood I could make the film I thought would appeal to my target audience, above all young people in their twenties, Ramaskrik enthusiasts, the annual horror film festival that takes place in the autumn at Oppdal. Yes, I think thriller amateurs in a claustrophobic atmosphere, with unbearable suspense and a good dose of special effects will be happy. I also hope that Lust will at least spark some curiosity and interest among the uninitiated.

And you… do you never get scared?
Oh, yes! Thankfully, writing my sinister stories in anxiety-invoking conditions helps me to tone down certain situations, to exorcise my fears. My dream, moreover, is to go to Paris to visit the Catacombs. Yes, I like scaring myself.

(Translated from French)

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