Filmmaker Interview: Tussilago

Come see Tussilago 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 these films is Tussilago, directed by Jonas Odell, an animated short that puts a human perspective on a 1970’s terrorist act. Using a brilliantly distinct animation style and telling the story from the perspective of the terrorist group’s leader’s girlfriend, Jonas puts a thought-provoking new spin on issues of terrorism that plague society to this day.

Rooftop Films spoke to Jonas about the importance of finding the personal in the historical.

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

Jonas Odell: In 1977 the West German terrorist Norbert Kröcher was arrested in Stockholm. He was the leader of a group planning to kidnap Swedish politician Ann-Greta Leijon. Among the other people arrested at the time was Kröcher’s former girlfriend “A”. This is her story…

RF: Do you have any personal connection to the subject of the film, if not why did you choose to interview “A”, the main character of the film?

JO: I started reading about this “terrorist affair” and somehow the story of “A” seemed to stand out as a strong story on its own. It is a story of the times as well as a story of a relationship.

RF: The film is very fast paced with a distinct animated style, did you create this technique to fit the subject matter, or is this a style that you are familiar with?

JO: I have worked with similar techniques before, but I always let the tone of the story be the main influence on the style we use.

RF: Describe how you created the images used in the film.

JO: Almost all of it was shot with actors, like any film. Most of the action was then treated in various ways and combined with animations.

RF: Is the terrorist storyline well-known in Sweden, and do you think the film plays differently in other countries, especially if they are not familiar with the circumstances surrounding the film?

JO: It is a well known “affair” for those in Sweden who were old enough when it happened, but I don’t think you need any previous knowledge to appreciate the story. It is a story of people and their relationship, anyway.

RF: The ending of the film is very emotional, what do you hope for audiences to take away from it?

JO: In the last few films I’ve made, I guess I’ve taken stories that I felt were strong and deserved to reach a more people but maybe a bit hard to take in at first, and tell them in a way that might allow them to reach a larger audience. Hopefully they let you see the world from an other person’s viewpoint for a while.

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

JO: Yes, I share my time between making my own films and commissioned work such as music videos etc.

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

JO: At the moment I’m writing…

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

JO: Having my film be part of a program with so many great films. The program deserves a huge audience, and I hope it gets it.

Tussilago 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.