Short Film Palme d’or | 2019
Elin Övergaard: "I’ve realized I have a certain regard for taking a specific situation and seeing how far people are willing to go to avoid confrontation, just because of how desperate we are for being accepted."
"Who Talks” follows two people standing on opposite sides during an infomeeting regarding the new refugee home for unaccompanied children.
Who is allowed to speak? What happens when nobody listens? What creates polarization?
Hi Elin, it's great to talk to you again, how's everything going?
Pretty well, thank you. Summer is coming, and the dreadful Swedish winter is finally over.
What does it mean to be at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival with Ingen Lyssnar (Who Talks)?
Hopefully, this means that more people will be interested in the film and in the long run getting it out to as many people outside of the film industry as possible. We’re seeing a trend in the industry that left winged people to make politically left winged films, and we want to reach out to a broader audience than this and try to break this barrier to make everybody think about the ongoing political polarization around the globe, regardless of where you stand politically.
Ingen Lyssnar (Who Talks) is shortlisted for the Short Film Palme d’or, does this add any extra pressure on you?
I just think it’s an honour to be nominated and will be great fun to screen the film and hear what the French think. Will be really interesting to see the other films.
Will you get any nerves ahead of the festival or are you just taking it all in your stride?
I’m sweating profusely already.
What goes through your mind when your screening at a festival?
How every person is judging the characters based on their own background and how this affects their viewing of the film. We’ve seen that different people in the audience view the different characters depending on what background they themselves have, and I find this extremely interesting.
"I wanted to capture this creeping sensation of separation that’s going on in our country, and in so many other countries as well."
Can you tell me a little bit about Ingen Lyssnar (Who Talks), how did this film come about? What was the inspiration behind this film?
I was at a city council meeting in 2015 in the middle of the big immigration wave in Sweden. The meeting was, just like our film, about a new refugee home for children that was about to open. People were angry that they hadn’t been part of the decision. I was struck by how much we people are just in the hands of our own feelings. It was like I could see a polarization taking place right in front of me during this meeting. The city council was there to inform and was not interested in answering any questions, and the people of the community were there trying to get their questions answered but weren’t interested in hearing the answers that were actually given. It was a meeting doomed to fail from the start. As nobody was being listened to, everybody stopped listening to each other as well. I wanted to capture this creeping sensation of separation that’s going on in our country, and in so many other countries as well.
What was the most challenging part of bringing Ingen Lyssnar (Who Talks) to life?
I wanted to depict real people with different backgrounds, socially and politically, without judging them. It was hard to do justice to each character, to not stereotype. It was important for me to meet every character with respect, regardless of my own political opinion. This was a hard thing to do with a room full of 50 different characters all shouting to get heard.
What was the most valuable lesson you've taken from making this film?
To use each character. Everybody has something to tell, I guess.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
My parents filmed a lot when I was a kid, and since I’ve always had a will to express myself in different ways, it was natural for me to start using the camera as a tool for getting heard at an early age. But I’ve always continued to use different means of uttering myself.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut film?
I’ve realized I have a certain regard for taking a specific situation and seeing how far people are willing to go to avoid confrontation, just because of how desperate we are for being accepted. How people just want to get heard and be taken seriously. I like working with actors in writing the script and to rather work with a lot of time than technology.
Is there any advice you've been given that's stuck with you?
That you can only do what you’re doing right now.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
Know why you want to do something, make something. It will define what you create.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Ingen Lyssnar (Who Talks)?
I’m hoping that everybody watching can see the ongoing polarization being created in the plot of the film and what negative impact this is having on our society.