Anders Emblem • Director of A Human Position
“In so many relationships that I see, people are just so nice”
by Kaleem Aftab
- The director talks about his second film, a character portrait starring Amalie Ibsen Jensen as a local news journalist who is struggling with her mental health
Shot in Ålesund, Norway, Anders Emblem’s A Human Position [+see also:
interview: Anders Emblem
film profile] is a character portrait starring Amalie Ibsen Jensen (who appeared in Emblem's debut, Hurry Slowly, in 2018) as Asta, a local news journalist who is struggling with her mental health. She lives with her partner, Live (Maria Agwumaro), and they enjoy a happy existence playing electric keyboards from the 1990s, and finding and repairing furniture. They also have the cutest cat in cinema. Asta then starts to investigate a story involving an asylum seeker.
The movie had its world premiere as the opening film of the Tromsø International Film Festival (17-23 January) and will soon move on to the Bright Futures competition at International Film Festival Rotterdam (26 January-6 February). Emblem chatted to Cineuropa at Tromsø.
Cineuropa: How would you describe A Human Position?
Anders Emblem: It's about a character who has some sort of melancholia that she's struggling with. Slowly, she's trying to figure out what's wrong and how to regain normality. That's the core of it; she's trying to figure out why she feels some sort of injustice or unfairness.
She works as a journalist; why was this important?
She's a journalist who reports on normal, basic cases for a local newspaper – a mix of sports, tourism and news. It’s all the stuff we are interested in in small towns. Then she sees a hint of a story that seems unfinished, and which intrigues her, about an asylum seeker who has been living in Norway for a long time and who is suddenly told that the Norwegian government will forcibly return them. Slowly, as she finds out more, it gives her more perspective on her own life.
Can you describe Ålesund, the small town where you live and where the story takes place?
It's on the north-western coast of Norway. It has lots of art-nouveau architecture. Basically, it's surrounded by the ocean. So, on a summer’s day, when there is nice weather, it's one of the loveliest cities in the world. But then it also rains a lot, so it can be pretty horrific. The region is very big on furniture because it was one of the industries in which it was able to compete with the rest of Norway. The workers only worked for food and housing, so the prices were lower, and then with the town being so close to water, they could ship out all of the stuff easily.
The film has that same great feeling of exhilaration that one gets when reading a Haruki Murakami novel. Was this the vibe you were going for?
Thanks. I must admit that I never thought of that connection. I am a fan of his work, but I have not read everything by him. Nonetheless, from what I have read, I like the tone of his books, especially the mix of weirdness and normality, which I enjoy exploring, too. But I must admit that my big Japanese influence is Hayao Miyazaki. The thing is, I just love cats. It's really as basic as that.
The central relationship between the two women is unusual because there is no dramatic tension. They seem so relaxed and wonderful in each other's company. Why did you go for this?
Because that's the normal thing in life, but it’s something that’s unusual in the movies, so I wanted to play against the movie trope. In so many relationships that I have witnessed, people are just so nice and comfortable with each other.
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