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by Lela Scott MacNeil
July 21st, 2010

Come see Anders & Harri and other intriguing short films from Sweden at our free “Swedish Cinema” short film program TONIGHT at Socrates Sculpture Park.

This week is Swedish Cinema Week at Rooftop Films. To kick it all off,  we will be showing a selection of wild and wonderful Swedish short films, each of them a representation of the exciting filmmaking being produced in Sweden today. This free show will take place TONIGHT at Socrates Sculpture Park.

One of the fascinating films being shown tonight is Åsa Blanck and Johan Palmgren’s Anders & Harri. The film tells the touching story of two best friends as they journey to the site of Sweden’s worst train crash. The simple intimacy of  Anders & Harri makes for a film that is sweet without ever venturing into the sacharine.

Åsa and Johan spoke to Rooftop Films about using a national tragedy as a device to tell a heartwarming tale of fear and friendship.

Rooftop Films: Give a brief description of the film for those who haven’t seen it.

Åsa Blanck and Johan Palmgren: This is a short film about friendship. Anders and Harri decide to take a trip to the place where Sweden´s worst train accident took place in 1918. Their relationship is put under pressure but then music surprisingly gets into the picture.

RF: How did you find Anders and Harri, and why did you choose to make a film about their relationship?

ÅB & JP: Anders and Harri are part of a theater group in Stockholm. We have had some great experiences from their performances, so we asked them if we could spend time together in order to check the possibilities of making a film together. We found out that their relationship as best friends was very dynamic, containing all the ingredients that a relationship has in a condensed form. That attracted us.

RF: The 1918 train accident is often joked about and the boys visit the site of the crash; why is that such a focal point of the film?

ÅB & JP: It is a good frame for the story and it leads us directly to important  questions about life and death. The boys are often joking a lot so the dark background with a train accident gives a wider perspective to what they do in the film.

RF: Do you think American audiences will get the same message from the film as Swedish ones? Will there be anything lost in translation?

ÅB & JP: Anders and Harri love to make jokes with words and some of these will probably get lost, but the central theme about their friendship will hopefully get through.

RF: Sound plays a large part in the movie, where did you find all of the music?

ÅB & JP: Anders and Harri love a famous Swedish artist who is called Cornelis Vreeskwijk. He was a Dutch immigrant who took control over the Swedish language as a grown up. He lived a self-destructive life and made some of the finest songs we have in Sweden. The music in the film is mainly his, but you will also hear specially composed music by David Ricci.

RF: Are you full-time filmmakers? If not, what else do you do?

ÅB & JP: We are two directors that often work together. We work full-time with film.

RF: Tell us about what else you are currently working on.

ÅB & JP: Åsa is making a full length documentary about a man whose father was murdered by his young lover. The son gets the shocking message and decides to walk in his fathers foot-prints to understand what happened. Johan has helped Åsa with this film and also chased new fantastic stories, but not yet decided which is the next big project.

For many years we have followed a Pakistani family who immigrated to Sweden. And we recently completed a short film about a couple who first fell in love as youngsters, but then came apart. 60 years later, almost 90 years old, they meet again and fall in love. Their children are not too happy about it, but they cannot resist being swept away by what becomes the love story of the century. The film ends with her taking care of him the last hours of his life.

RF: What excites you about screening your film at Rooftop Films?

ÅB & JP: We were extremely happy that our film was accepted by your festival. Partly because your festival seems to be really cool and partly because it is nice to present the film to an audience outside of Sweden. We wish we could be there!

Anders & Harri kicks off a week of Swedish Cinema at Rooftop Films. See it for free tonight along with other wild short films from Sweden.

Then on Friday, head to Ft. Greene for the New York Premiere of The Ape, directed by Jesper Ganslandt. A man awakens on the floor, covered in blood and apparently unaware of how he got there. He goes off to work, and we follow…

On Saturday, we present the New York Premiere of Greetings from the Woods, at the Old American Can Factory. With a mixture of playful precision, humor, and melancholy, director Mikel Cee Karlsson captures the dreams, relationships and everyday life of the denizens of his hometown, a tiny little village deep within the Swedish forest.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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