Taking a less dogmatic
She was wooed by Lars von Trier to become the Dogme movement’s first female director. But LONE SCHERFIG was intent on doing things her way. Words: Kaleem Aftab
one Scherfig originally turned l.ars von Trier
down when asked to join the original
Brotherhood that made films to the Dogme manifesto. It was not through a lack of belief in the ten manifesto rules. which included using no artificial sound and not crediting the director. rather that Scherfig was overloaded with work on other projects at the time. By the time her workload had cleared up. she had become weary of the stigma attached to the Dogme movement which by then had courted as much controversy as publicity with two films in particular: l‘i’Slt’ll and von Trier‘s 'I'lir' Idiots.
‘People were getting a bit tired of Dogme in Denmark.‘ says Scherfig. who is the first female director of the Dogme movement. ‘There had been four films and three of them had opened. They did very well and people really liked them. I wanted to have a free hand and they gave me the money and let me do what I felt like without interference.‘ Thus Scherfig came to make something that was going otit of fashion.
A key motive for Scherfig was to make a film that was entirely different from the original quartet. Not because she did not like the films. btit because their bleak view of contemporary life did not sit well with her own personality. '1 thought I should not compete on their own terms.‘ she says. ‘but I should do a film that was true to my own lighter sensibility. I just like to make jokes. The more I can laugh. the less stressful the shooting of a film gets. Ila/fall I'in' Br'gimtt'rs is not a superficial film: you can actually describe it as being quite serious even if there are a lot ofjokes. The same thing is happening in my next film.‘
26 THE LIST 1/";Ai.i (.1 Mia, I’ll?
‘I thought I should not compete on their own terms, but I should do a film that was true to my own lighter
Scots might see themselves in Italian For Beginners
ller next film has Scherfig asking me as many questions as I‘m posing her. ller first linglish language film is based in Glasgow. a city that she has now fallen in love with. ‘despite the weather‘. The picture has the jaunty title. ll’illiiii- ll’uiiis To Kill Himself: It‘s a comedy that Scherfig co—wrote about two brothers who inherit a second hand bookshop in Salt Market Street.
She says it was the Scottish sense of humour that made her want to make a film over here. ‘I found that the humour was similar to that in Denmark. Many people in Scotland have the same slightly shy. curt and ironic approach to things. They do not take themselves too seriously and appreciate a laugh as much as a nice image. The culture is strong and the
new film gains quite a lot from that. I’m also hoping
that the Scots will be able to see an element of
themselves in Italian For Beginners.’
I presume that what Sherlig has in mind when she says this. is the Italian-speaking football stadium restaurant owner of the film. Not because he has a hint of a (ilaswegian accent. or that many Scots rtm around wearing Juventus football tops. but when I mention to Scherfig that he is my favourite character in the film. she replies. ‘Then you will like Wilbur. he has the same aggression. humour and energy'.
Making a ‘back to basics” Dogme film is supposed to reinvigorate the way that one makes. and audiences view. films. Although Scherfig now appreciates getting her hands back on artificial lights and cranes. the event that has really changed the way that she approaches films is having her first child. ‘I think my films have got better since I had a child. They are less ostentatious and more relaxed. There is less perfection. so they get funnier and warmer and friendlier. I am over this period iii my life where you do melancholic films about solitary dark characters.‘
No more Dogme for Scherfig. then.
Italian For Beginners is on selected release from Fri 26 Apr. See review page, 29.
Lights, camera, action . . .
THE IDEA OF THE NORTH Canadian film season comes to the Edinburgh Filmhouse from Monday 29 April. The season celebrates those talents who avoided the call of Hollywood and chose to stay home to develop their country’s identity through cinema. Therefore, you won’t find the films of émigré James Cameron in the season, but you will see Atom Egoyan’s The Adjuster. You’ll also find some lesser known names (at least on the international circuit), the much needed promotion of whom is kind of the point. The Idea Of The North is hosted jointly by the Filmhouse and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, organisations which are actively working together to promote international cinema all year round. See Film index.
Law Of Enclosures, playing in The Idea Of The North
STELLA SCREEN IN Production sees the cinema— lovmg brewer expand its activities beyond oi'ev/iew screening new films. Under this new initiative. Stella brings a number of filmmakers — including Justin Kerrigan. director of Ht/iiian Traffic and Leslee Ldein. producer of East Is Fast — to the Glasgow Film Theatre on Thursday 9 May. The aim of the initiative is to make prolessmnal advice available to would—be filmmakers.
THE JIM POOLE SHORT Film Award, now in its third year, will again be hosted by The Cameo Cinema. Seven finalists have been selected for the short film competition and the films will be screened on Sunday 28 April, following which the winning filmmakers will be presented with a cheque for £1000 and a distribution guarantee for the film.