Monica Hellström • Producer, Final Cut for Real
"I am interested in complex relationships between people"
- Denmark’s Monica Hellström has been selected for EFP’s 2020 Producers on the Move, and we talked about her interests and the films she is currently working on
Having previously worked at Upfront Films and the Danish Film Institute's Film Workshop, Monica Hellström joined the Copenhagen-based company Final Cut for Real in 2010, where she produced Simon Lereng Wilmont's The Distant Barking of Dogs [+see also:
film profile], which was shortlisted for Oscars in 2019. She has been selected for Producers on the Move, and we talked to her about her interests and the films she is currently working on.
Cineuropa: What is about creative documentaries that you are most interested in?
Monica Hellström: Our main focus is on creative documentary films for the international marked and we are looking for films with a strong sense of artistic drive and a nuanced and untold story. Personally I can see that I am very interested in complex relations between people, and how we as people are very dependent on these relationships for surviving. I am also very intrigued by human behaviour and how we as people make different strategies for surviving when we are pushed. As a company we have also started producing fiction and have recently co-produced two arthouse films, The Nile Hilton Incident [+see also:
interview: Tarik Saleh
film profile] by Tarik Salah (produced by Atmo Films) which won the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at Sundance in 2017, and the Irish-Dutch-Danish Toronto 2019 entry Good Favour [+see also:
film profile] by Rebecca Daly (produced by Savage Productions).
Can you highlight some of the films you’re working on currently and tell us a bit about them?
My most recent production is Forget Me Not by Sun Hee Engelstoft. It is a beautiful film about adoption, but seen from the perspective of a group of young unwed mothers in South Korea who needs to decide whether to keep their child or give it up for adoption. The director is an adoptee herself and the meeting between her and the mothers creates a really unique perspective and way of conversation for the film.
I am also producing Simon Lereng Wilmont’s next film A House Made of Splinters. This will be our fourth film together and, like The Distant Barking of Dogs, it is set in Ukraine with kids as the main characters, but this time it has multiple characters as it takes place at a very special orphanage near the frontline in Ukraine. The kids come from vulnerable and unstable families and can only stay at the orphanage for nine months, until the state decides what to do with the kids - if they need to go into foster care or back to their families. It’s really an amazing film and I was blown away by the strength of the kids and the staff and how they are handling life everything that comes their way. Despite the tough subject matter, it's a very beautiful film.
I am also producing an animated documentary film called Flee by the director Jonas Poher Rasmussen. It's a huge European co-production and with support from the USA. It's a film about a close friendship between two men, one of them with a secret that he has never shared. It's about fleeing from who you are. I will bring Flee to my Producers on the Move meetings along with the really beautiful documentary film called I See For You by Cille Hannibal and co-director Christine Hanberg. The film is about Christine's brother who was only born with three senses - he lost his sight and hearing as a new-born and Christine's family must therefore see and hear for him. We are in production and are still looking for co-producers and funding.
How does the current Covid-19 situation impact your work?
As we produce international documentaries and have been used to travel to follow the stories, the Covid-19 situation makes this difficult for a time. But as a country we are in a stable situation and us as a company are still working, just from home, but it's tough watching how hard the situation has hit the industry - all the productions that had to stop filming and are losing a huge amount of money, as well as the theatres.
What do you expect of Producers on the Move in its digital edition?
I am very intrigued and optimistic about next week. I am looking forward to meeting all the producers and hearing about their projects. I hope we can then meet in real life too when everything opens up again.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.