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"I decided to exaggerate a little bit and to push certain situations to the extreme"

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Charlotte Sieling • Director

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- We met up with Danish director Charlotte Sieling, whose latest film The Man is released in cinemas in Norway

Charlotte Sieling • Director

The first edition of the “Oslo Pix” international festival took place at the beginning of June, presenting around sixty films from Europe and North America to an eager audience. On this particular occasion, Cineuropa met up with the Danish filmmaker Charlotte Sieling, who was in the Norwegian capital to present her film The Man [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Charlotte Sieling
film profile
]
 and lead a masterclass. Originally a trained actress and screenwriter, this warm-hearted and passionate cineaste has made many successful TV series such as The Bridge, Borgen andmany others. The Man has been distributed in Denmark in March by SF Film and is released this 25 August in Norway by Tour de Force.

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Cineuropa: Is Simon's character inspired by a real-life figure?
Charlotte Sieling:
In order to give life to the king in his castle I thought of Olafur Eliasson, a Danish artist of Icelandic origin who now lives in Berlin. He has a large studio and laboratory in Rungestrasse, where he devotes himself to creation and experimentation in the fields that he is passionate about. He works there with a group of assistants under his guidance, and he also lives there.

Where did you shoot the film?
Mainly in Prague, in an old brewery. The shooting only lasted 19 days, my TV experience has taught me to work fast and efficiently. I had already worked for TV with the Danish actor Søren Malling. At the time I let him work in his own way and even improvise. He didn't have quite the same freedom in The Man. When we first started filming he rejected the idea, saying that he didn't really understand or like the script. I think it's important that an actor knows his text well and is ready to accept the author's intentions. So I was strict with him. I told him that I had left nothing to chance and that even changing one word in the text could ruin the whole script. Søren finally trusted me and we were able to complete a really in-depth piece of work.

Could you say a few words about the team that worked on the film?
Fantastic actors and an exciting creative work. Søren and the Norwegian actor Jakob Oftebro, who plays the unexpected visitor, i.e. Simon's son Casper, got along very well. Jakob speaks Danish perfectly and, funnily enough, as the days went by they began to resemble each other. The film being a Danish-Norwegian co-production, I chose Ane Dahl Torp for the role of Darling, Simon's wife, who is a Norwegian actress that I am very fond of. Darling was supposed to be older but after some consideration I thought it would be a good fit for the story if Simon had a young companion and an even younger mistress. Other team members included the director of photography Rasmus Arrildt, the editor Sverrir Kristjánsson and the composer Nicholas Sillitoe, whose music won me over straight away. Rumle Sieling Langdal composed the film's songs. It's actually him we hear singing with his band.

Some characters are a bit irritating ...
That was intentional. However I love all of my characters passionately. People don't necessarily understand their vulnerability, their way of expressing their tenderness. Their sensitivity is latent though. I could have treated them a little better, made them nicer, but that wouldn't have been authentic or consistent with the milieu that I know so well. I   did decide to exaggerate a little bit and to push certain situations to the extreme. Nevertheless, those who loved the film often draw parallels with their own lives. They find reflections of their own personal experiences in the film. My film became a kind of catalyst for them. 

The Man is also a story about rejection.
Rejection within a family. Is a child entitled to demand more from his/her parents than the life he/she has been given? I don't believe so. One day you have to make the decision to be an adult. What can a child claim? What can an adult give? How to find a balance? These issues are also at the heart of the third part of the trilogy.

(Translated from French by Jana Idris)

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