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“I was looking for anyone who would grab the ball and run with it”

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Annika Berg • Director

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- VENICE 2017: We chatted to Annika Berg, whose teen drama Team Hurricane was screened in the International Critics’ Week

Annika Berg  • Director

Annika Berg is a Danish filmmaker whose debut feature, Team Hurricane [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Annika Berg
film profile
]
, played in the International Critics’ Week section of the Venice Film Festival and is being released on VoD in Denmark, with added theatrical event screenings in the country as part of the release. The 2015 graduate from the National Film School in Denmark talks to us about social-media casting and personal stories, and explains why this excellent teen drama forwent a theatrical release in her homeland.

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Cineuropa: This is a film about being a teenage girl. When did you decide to tell this story with eight girls in an ensemble cast?
Annika Berg:
 First off, I started only with myself, digging back into my former self and trying to come to terms with why I am who I am, and what I lost along the way. I didn’t know that I wanted eight girls. Actually, in the beginning, I thought that it was going to be three or four girls, but then I did a big social-media casting and had ten girls who I took on a workshop and gave a lot of assignments. They were assignments that were similar to those I received at film school, as I was really interested in trying to find girls who could contribute to the piece and could create.

What is a social-media casting? Does that mean you put out a casting call on the internet? 
I personally looked at profiles on the internet for 14 hours a day. We started with casting agents, but that didn’t work out, because I’m always looking for somebody who will surprise me. I gave people a lot of video assignments or poetry-writing assignments and things like that. I was basically looking for anyone who would grab the ball and run with it. Someone who was brave, who could show vulnerability and who was not afraid to be weak or strong.

What is the split between fictionalisation and reality? Are the girls themselves, or fictional representations? 
That’s a difficult question because some say it’s fifty/fifty, but it’s complicated because they take their own persona and put it into something fictional. They also know that they are using a lot of themselves and a lot of their own personal history, and some of them, depending on how comfortable they are with the world, can be super private while some can be not so private. For me, there is room for them to have their own limitations, so it’s very individual and varies from girl to girl. But of course, I encourage them to use their own stories and use things that are hurting within them. I use stuff that’s hurting inside of me.

You film in a documentary style, but then you add colourful visuals on top. It’s such a unique-looking film – how did you decide on the palette?
It’s difficult for me to speak about it in concrete terms because I really go from my guts and trust my instincts, and I tell everyone who works with me that if I feel there is going to be a burning rose, I can’t explain why. So I really do trust my guts because I think that my body knows way more than my head does.

Despite your film playing at the Venice Film Festival, you have decided to release it in Denmark on VoD, straight away. Why?
Our main goal is to reach as many teens as possible – first and foremost Danish teens. In order to do that, we think it’s important that the film be easily accessible. And although we would love the movie to have a long life in Danish cinemas, we didn’t want to make it less accessible to teens. With the average ticket price ranging from 65-110 DKR [€8.75-€14.75], it’s definitely a lot for many teenagers. With a streaming price set at 20 DKR [€2.70], all teens should be able to afford to watch the film. To release it in cinemas in Denmark would also mean complying with the four-month holdback window before release on VoD, and that’s a big issue for us. Teen culture today moves at lightning speed, and we already feel that the movie is less current and relevant than when we shot it. So holdback is not an option. If it were up to us, we would have preferred a simultaneous release in cinemas and on VoD, but unfortunately, that’s not possible at the moment.

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