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MOTHER KNOWS BEST Mamma vet bäst (original title)

August 16, 2018

MKBStarring Alexander Gustavsson from Girls Lost. A mother gives her teenage son some friendly advice on their way home from having met his boyfriend for the first time, but this innocent conversation leads to revelations that threaten to completely change their relationship. Winner of Iris Prize 2017

This 13-minute epic is done in two long takes, revealing strong, intimate acting performances by Gustavsson and Ullerstam. Each actor’s reactions reveal a world of exposition about what has gone down in this family. The mother thinks she’s so close to her son, but she discovers he’s been hiding a secret that she had long suspected. Then the anger he feels is suddenly redirected at her. She suspected, but she never asked him about it, her son says. She made him suffer in silence before he got up the nerve to come out? This film is so honest, so real, it feels like a much bigger movie than you initially might have imagined.

MIKAEL BUNDSEN (1989, Sweden) studied film directing at the Valland Academy of Fine Arts in Gothenburg. Mother Knows Best is his fourth short film. He is currently working on his feature debut.

You can watch it here.

BOF 18Other shorts on Boys on Film 18

IT’S CONSUMING ME 

Director: Kai Staenicke

From the director of B. A young man obsesses over his ex-lover as he takes us through a collage of memories, the highs and lows of their relationship and images of his ex-boyfriend’s new life with his new lover.

The director: With both critical and public acclaim, winning accolades at LGBT film festivals across the world, Kai is just at the beginning of an exciting career. The German-born director has an academic background in Film and TV Production and has made a handful of stunning short films. His music video Cold Star and an upcoming stop-motion feature, Own Drum, examine the social constructions of gender and sexual identity. In 2012, he released an intense three-minute emotional journey called It’s Consuming Me, which captures the dynamic of a loving relationship and the places love can take our minds to. I spoke with Kai about the inspirations in his work, his thoughts on queer portrayals in film today and how an infamous teen horror film started it all for him!

Hi Kai! Thanks a million for taking the time to talk with me today.

Thank you! I feel honoured to be featured on your site. You’ve got a great magazine here.

Your latest short film, It’s Consuming Me, captures the wide-ranging emotions of love in just over three minutes. What was the inspiration behind it?

After Cold Star I had the urge to do something completely different. Cold Star was very slow paced and took its time to evolve. With It’s Consuming Me I wanted to go in another direction. I wanted it to be really short and packed, an essence, where everything happens at once, where there is too much information to get every detail the first time you watch it. Still you get the whole picture and what it’s about though. When you watch it a second or third time there are still new things to discover. Someone once told me “If films are like wine, It’s Consuming Me is a shot”. And that’s exactly what I wanted it to be.

The pace and style of the film portrays the exciting, troubling and everyday moments of a relationship. What was the filming and editing process like?

It was planned as a three minute short from the beginning but I knew that it was going to take a lot of time to shoot it. Mostly because we had at least forty different scenes at various places, sometimes with extras. So I planned nine shooting days for everything (which is a lot, considering Cold Star had only three). In the end we had thirteen shooting days, going all around Berlin.

Afterwards we had tons of footage to go through. And of course the first cuts were a lot longer than the film is now. I kept saying “It needs to be shorter”. I wanted things to just fly by, that you get a glimpse and when you’re trying to grab it, it’s gone already. Of course the music helped to keep the fast pace of the film. My composer and sound-designer, Florian, and I tried to create a restless and energizing piece that still underlines the emotional part of the film.

It also taps into an uncontrollable desire for the people we love. Does the concept come from personal experience or observations of relationships around you?

Yes, actually the concept is based on personal experience. One of the basic thoughts when I was making the film was “What exactly was it that kept me so involved in relationships?”. And a huge part was the fact that they introduced me to their world. I think that’s the special thing. To learn about and discover things the other one cares about, to maybe see things you haven’t seen before. Religion, work, art, everything. And I tried to put that in the film.

The film is about imagination and wishful thinking as well. Maybe not everything this boy tells us really happened in the end. It somehow goes back to my personal experience too. I had a crush on a friend of mine, although I knew he had a boyfriend all along. Afterwards the whole thing fascinated me. How could I have been so involved in something that didn’t really exist?

There has been quite a strong positive reaction to the film and you’ve won many awards in your career so far. How does it feel to have people connect to something you’ve worked on?

Well, it’s everything. I’m very insecure about my work when I first put it out there. It’s like a baby. You’ve worked on it for so long, you’ve invested everything and of course you love it but you never know what people will think. Especially with It’s Consuming Me, since it was very personal. To receive such positive feedback from people and festivals is overwhelming. It’s what keeps you going. I’m really grateful for that. I’m happy about every like on Youtube and I check for comments every day. It’s really important to me and it gives you a boost to work on new projects.

Have your university studies in Film and TV Production shaped your aesthetic and the way you create?

It helped me mostly in terms of producing my films, financing and getting a team together. Of course it showed me how films are made in general. When I started studying I didn’t have a clue about film production at all. And just because of my studies I got an internship in Berlin. And that’s how I got here and started doing what I do. But I wouldn’t say it shaped my aesthetic since it was financial/production-oriented studies. There was hardly any creative input at all.

Growing up, can you remember any films or videos that really inspired you to make film?

Okay this answer might make me look stupid. I was obsessed with films when I was a kid, especially horror films. There was one film that inspired me to do my own films. It was Scream. I was very young when I watched it and of course I couldn’t sleep for weeks. But I was obsessed with it! I still am somehow. It’s just such a clever, funny and very scary film. I think there are films that just never leave you because you’ve got so many memories about them. I started doing my own versions of Scream with my friends. I think there are around 5 different ones (I don’t think a single one got finished) and I literally forced all my friends to take part in it. It’s hilarious to look at the footage today. I’ve still got it on VHS.

What are your thoughts on queer cinema today? Do you think it’s becoming more acceptable to depict LGBTQ relationships in film?

Films like The Kids Are All Right or The Perks of Being a Wallflower show us that it’s possible to have a successful film with a queer relationship in it. I think there’s still a long way to go though. In mainstream films, queer relationships are often stereotyped and just for sidekicks. But as LGBTQ awareness extends more and more in society, so it will in the film industry too. And there are a lot of people working on that, all over the world.

Your films appear to have a strong focus on gender, identity and sexuality. Do you feel your work is a statement or an exploration of these themes?

Obviously it’s a theme that I’m very involved with, that’s why it’s part of my films. I want my films to transfer something, whether it’s a message, an impulse or an emotion. I don’t want them to be meaningless. So of course I’d like to think of my films as statements. For all different kinds of things. Mostly for being who you are.

You can watch it here.

SILLY GIRL

Director: Hope Dickson Leach. Starring Clara Baxendale (My Mad Fat Diary) and Jason Barker (A Deal with the Universe).

Silly Girl is all about the first time you are noticed, that first time someone sees you for who you are and the transformative nature of that moment. From the Director of The Levelling and co-written by Game of Thrones’ Ellie Kendrick.

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