The film with which she obtained her degree from the University College of Film, Radio, Television and Theatre in Stockholm was widely praised, but then Lisa Siwe disappeared from public view. After a few instructive years with a New York production company, she returned to Sweden and struck gold immediately. Her first movie, Glowing Stars (I taket lyser stjärnorna), was awarded Sweden’s foremost film prize, The Guldbagge Award, for Best Director.
Lisa Siwe. Photo: Lars Pehrson/Scanpix
Why did you become a film director?
“I’ve been fascinated by films since I was a little kid. In my teens, I decided I wanted to direct when I realized the director is responsible for the totality of the film. I wanted to influence people, to make them think and feel, just as films had affected me.”
Glowing Stars tells the difficult story of Jenna, a teenage girl whose mother falls desperately ill with cancer. What is the secret of your success with this film?
“It’s the kind of story that touches people and needs to be told. In the film, Jenna goes through something we’ll all have to go through sooner or later. The film is based on a really good book, and I’ve also experienced profound grief myself. The key to the film’s success was the close contact I had with the screenwriter, the actors and the film team. Also, I’m interested in people, I’m stubborn and committed and I have something to say.”
What makes a good film, in your opinion?
“A film that draws you in, that has an impact on you. I’m tired of films that lack all content, that simply adopt an aesthetic approach to film-making.”
Before your first feature you made a television film based on Henning Mankell’s Firewall (Brandvägg). Why do so few women direct police films, a genre that’s supposed to be an excellent way in for would-be directors in Sweden?
“Quite simply because they’re seldom asked.”
What do you like best about Sweden?
“All the things we take for granted, like free healthcare and free education.”
Torun Börtz is a Swedish freelance journalist.
The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this article.
Translation: Stephen Croall
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