Tuesday, 14 September 2010

TIFF 2010: Mamma Gógó director, Fridrik Thor Fridriksson

Met Oscar-nominated director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson yesterday. I rudely kept him waiting for five minutes (yikes!) because I lost track of time interviewing Iranian director, Raffi Pitts (The Hunter)--more about that interview at a later date. Thankfully, Fridrik didn't seem to mind and our interview about his film, Mamma Gógó was short and sweet.

The film is a semi-autobiography about his financial trouble and the onset of his mother's illness. Alzheimer's is not an illness that is often treated with humour in films, but Fridrik said that some of the situations he encountered with his mother were so comical that he decided to approach this aspect of his life through comedy. He was also tired of the bleak nature many of the films he had seen that dealt with the issue. His mother remains healthy, but her illness has progressed beyond what is depicted in the film. She still remembers him in her own way, and squeezes his hand and smiles when he visits her. His mother's impact on his life is significant (his father died when he was very young), so this film is really a tribute to his mother.

The film is also a tribute to one of Iceland's most revered actresses, Kristbjörg Kjeld, a recipient of Iceland's highest honour, the Order of the Falcon. Frikdrik knew he wanted her to star in this film and used footage of Kjed from her 1962 film, 79 af stöðinni as flashbacks for the character of Gógó. Included in these flashback of Gógó is actor, Gunnar Eyjólfsson who starred with Kjeld in the black and white film. In Mamma Gógó, Fridriksson used these scenes to depict the two actors as the director's parents, allowing us to understand the love and loss of Gógó and her fantasies about her dead husband.

The financial difficulties faced by The Director (he is never named in the film) is one faced by Fridriksson himself, and which still impacts the film industry in Iceland. Frikdriksson used to executive produce many children's films in Iceland (including one of my favourites, Ikingut), and this sector of film, which used to be so productive and well-done, is at a virtual standstill. Like The Director (played by Hilmir Snær Guðnason) who longs for an Oscar nomination in order to have the clout to finance more films, Fridriksson (and I) hope that a nomination for Mamma Gógó will boost production of films in Iceland (where funds for film have been cut by 35%).

Mamma Gógó
Sunday September 19
12:30:00 PM


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