Kristian Håskjold • Director of Crocodile Tears
“I believe in the philosophy that all people need humour in their lives even in the critical parts of their lives”
- We chatted with Kristian Håskjold to find out more about his short film Crocodile Tears, selected for this year’s European Film Promotion’s Future Frames
Kristian Håskjold has already directed five short films and a TV mini-series, which all together have been screened at more than 90 festivals including Sundance and won awards at the likes of SXSW. His last film A Worthy Man (2018) also made it to the longlist of the European Film Awards. For the past three years he has studied at the Danish independent film school SUPER16.
His latest film Crocodile Tears sees 26-year-old Øyvind try to establish a relationship with the father who he hardly knows. Initially excited about a weekend they are spending together, things turn sour when his father proves uncommunicative. A delicate, darkly funny and raw examination of family ties and the difficulty of communication between generations, Crocodile Tears will screen as part of this year’s European Film Promotion’s Future Frames, which takes place during Karlovy Vary’s Eastern Promises. We chatted with Håskjold to find out more about the film.
Cineuropa: Much like A Worthy Man, Crocodile Tears focuses on a man who finds it difficult to communicate or show emotions to his family. What draws you to this subject?
Kristian Håskjold: Both films are inspired by the men that were in my life when I grew up. When growing up I felt a lot like it was more natural for me and my friends to talk about our feelings than I felt it was for my dad and my uncle. I am fairly sure it’s a cultural shift in our two generations, and I’ve always thought that contrast was interesting. And when growing older, I’ve tried to get to know my dad better and gotten to understand that it has nothing to do with the amount he loves me – it just doesn’t come natural to him to express it with words in the same degree.
You seem to work with juxtapositions. The film is quite intimate – lots of medium shots and close ups – but the characters themselves are distant, divided from each other. Was this something deliberate?
Yes, I really wanted to give the film a claustrophobic feeling, since we are following a son’s first visit with his dad for many years. I really wanted to give the audience the same feeling as the son by forcing the audience close to all the characters with only few breaks to breathe.
In general, in my films, I like to explore dramatic moments in people’s life with humour. I believe in the philosophy that all people need humour in their lives even in the critical parts of their lives, since it works as a coping measure for many people.
As an aside, all the dialogue in Crocodile Tears was improvised on set between me and the actors. It was practice for me to work with improvisational acting as a development from my short film Forever Now, where I did the same.
Did you intend the end of the film to be as ambiguous as it comes across?
Yes, it was our intention to make it ambiguous. I wanted to start a discussion about if he only does what he does for himself or maybe for his son but just do not know how to express it with his own words. Maybe he can change, maybe he can’t. My own understanding of the ending is very divided too – it changes a lot depending on what mood I’m in.
Tell us about casting Ferdinand Falsen Hiis and Lars Knutzon as our father and son protagonists as they obviously needed to have a specific chemistry. How did you ensure they work together as well as they did?
I worked with Ferdinand Falsen Hiis on my previous short film Forever Now and had for a long time wanted to work with him again, but was waiting for the right part for him. I think that Ferdinand both has a great sensitivity and energy, which were a great combination for the part. So it was more about scouting the right actor to play his dad. My producer Andreas Bak, my writer Christina Øster and I spent a long time discussing the part and in the end we decided that Lars Knutzon was perfect. He’s a bit older and is good at playing disinterested even though he’s actually a really warm man.
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