Astrid Thorvaldsen • Director
"The familiar and identifiable in everyday life is often more frightening than the monstrosities"
- Young Norwegian director Astrid Thorvaldsen spoke to Cineuropa about her first feature-length work, Utburd, a horror film
Astrid Thorvaldsen, already an award winner for her short film Festen (The Party), spoke to Cineuropa about her first feature-length work, Utburd [+see also:
interview: Astrid Thorvaldsen
film profile], a horror film, in a café in Spydeberg, a small municipality in south-eastern Norway. Situated on the Glomma, the longest river in Scandinavia, Spydeberg is a place that the 23-year-old Norwegian director holds close to her heart.
Cineuropa: The title brings to mind mysterious creatures.
Astrid Thorvaldsen: Yes, an utburd is a reject of society, a stillborn baby, an aborted foetus or an unwanted child, abandoned in the woods and left to die. The legend stems from verified, proven facts: these victims mutate into vindictive, sometimes giant creatures that emit horrible wails and attack hikers, even though they have nothing to do with their dismal fate. And they do this in order to secure themselves a proper burial. In the beginning, the idea of dedicating a film to these creatures was mine, as well as Jonas Langset Hustad’s, the film’s dialogue writer and screenwriter. He also plays Adrian, a writer bereft of inspiration, who has come to the woods to recharge his batteries with some friends. Adrian is somewhat like Jonas, just as Kristine is somewhat like me.
You play Kristine?
Oh no, I’m not very comfortable in front of the camera; behind it, though, I’m much more at ease. The other roles are played by young actors who were selected after auditions.
Do you operate the camera?
No, we had three cinematographers. Speaking of which, a scene in the film that I really love is the heather bathed in light as Arild goes off in search of Sara with a torch.
Everything started in Trondheim.
Yes, about two years ago at NTNU, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, when a group of nine students from the film and video department, including myself, chose to present a feature-length film for their final exam. It was a group project with a clear division of tasks and responsibilities. NTNU gave us 90,000 crowns (about €10,000) and we managed to fund the rest ourselves. We filmed on the outskirts of Trondheim, often at night in the middle of the countryside. A few months ago, the film was shown for the very first time at the Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival. Storytelling Media showed an interest in the film straight away and became our distributor. The premiere will be in Oslo in mid-November. We’ve been really lucky.
Weren’t you scared that your film wouldn’t be finished, or that it would turn into an evil utburd that filled you with remorse?
Of course, there were times when we were disheartened, but we finished the project. The baby is doing well and… we passed our exam!
What do these famous utburds look like?
Jonas and I have talked a lot about their physical appearance, and a big part of our small budget was put towards the creation of the masks: we wanted the creatures to look both human and inhuman. The familiar and identifiable in everyday life is often more frightening than the monstrosities. Our movie is, after all, more a psychological drama than a traditional horror film in which the characters patiently wait their turn to be massacred. I wanted our characters to have substance and the audience to have time to become attached to them. There aren’t any costumes; the actors wear their own clothes, but each character has a dominant colour: red for Adrian, grey for Sara, Arild is mostly in black, Kristine in blue and Erik in green.
(Translated from French)
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