IN her first feature film – Vifill Prunner’s I Am Here – Tua Charlotte Fock plays a woman who murders her husband and escapes to an idyllic island with a mysterious man (played by Hocine Choutri). A quiet and gripping affair, I Am Here showcases brilliantly intense lead performances from both actors.
Close-up Culture are delighted to welcome Tua onto the site to talk about her role in I Am Here ahead of the film’s world premiere at Raindance Film Festival (2 and 3 October).
Q: This is your first feature film and it gave you the opportunity to shoot in Thailand. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
A: NO, it really doesn’t. I was literally sitting on my sofa, writing to my graphic design team, when I got the email from Vifill about reading for his upcoming film. Hocine Choutri, my co-actor, was already chosen but they hadn’t found the actor for Katia. I did the reading, was offered the part and the next thing I knew I was sitting on a flight to Thailand.
Q: Obviously, there is a level of mystery surrounding both lead characters in I’ Am Here’. What can you reveal about your character and your experience playing her?
A: I have to admit I searched for her for the entire shoot. She was not an easy character to pin down since everything she does seems to contradict what she did the moment before. Both in her actions and thoughts. A lost soul trying to survive but driven by impulses that she does not quite understand herself. To me, she remained a mystery which in itself was a challenge and put me under circumstances I have never previously experienced.
Q: The film has a minimalist dialogue and Vifill has praised your ability to silently convey emotions. How did you approach this challenge?
A: I didn’t perceive it as a challenge per se. I’ve worked with Vifill before and therefore had a basic trust of our communication and in his way of working, in whatever form it has been.
There was a script that we worked from as a base but Vifill as a director gives a lot of leeway in how you approach something. He gives you the framework and his trust and then he watches it unfold. It’s very organic in it’s nature and quite beautiful. Working with him is very much like a scripted chaos – yes, that is probably the most accurate way I can describe it.
That way of working gives you a lot of adrenaline and energy at the same time as you feel totally safe. It keeps you on your toes but you always rest in that you know he’s got the ball, so you just let go and roll with it.
Q: The relationship between your character and Hocine Choutri’s is the core of the story. How did you work Hocine? What was your dynamic like?
A: HOCINE helped me tremendously. Besides him knowing his work, he is an incredible actor and he took me under his wing from day one. This being my first time on a film set, he taught me all the ins and outs of it, making me feel completely at ease. Just watching him act and knowing it was basically just us two that would have to carry the film, I felt a pretty big responsibility not to let anyone down. I have him to thank for a lot.
Besides that, we developed quite an interesting dynamic very quickly. You just felt it. The whole team became very tightly knit during the shoot, but especially him and I, as actors, were in this little boat, helping each other out. And he always had my back. Always.
Q: Director Vifill Prunner is a very intriguing filmmaker. What can you tell us about working with him and his style?
A: IN a way, I described this earlier, but what I could add is that Vifill is very curious in his nature. I’m not sure that is at all how he would describe himself but that is how I see him and how he works.
A big part of the joy is that working with him is like going into unchartered territory and if you make the decision to follow him there, you follow him wherever he goes. And he follows you. It’s a very collective way of working, he leads and you follow but in a way you discover the way at the same time and what works and what doesn’t. It binds you very closely together.
He is a documentary filmmaker of fiction in the way that he discovers and documents with his camera head first – without everything planned out meticulously beforehand. That is what I mean when I said he is curious in his nature and as a filmmaker.
Q: Do you have any stories from the shoot that you can share with us?
A: TWO months on a Thai island in scripted chaos – do I have stories? Yes. Can I share them with you? Hell no! (laughing)
Q: What kind of projects interest you as an actor?
A: PROJECTS that have a soul. That’s a short answer but the most truthful I can give. It can be in the text leaping from the pages of a manuscript that you’re just dying to make yours, it can be in the people involved that touch you – it can be raw, it can be poetic, it can be visually stunning but it has to grip your heart. Projects that rips you in some way or another. That has a soul.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
A: YES, a Danish one this time. I was sent the script by a Danish director that I loosely know. I was always joking with him that I insist on speaking Danish if we were to work together. Now we’re there but the script turned out to be in English this time so I guess I can forget about me being a Dane! In another life time maybe.
Q: You will be in attendance when ‘I Am Here’ screens at Raindance Film Festival. Are you excited?
A: YES I am! Apart from the amazing opportunity to have our film screened at Raindance, I look forward to watching some of the other movies at the festival and being reunited with Vifill, Hocine and Samuel Bourdin (the producer). Apart from that I will be scouring the city for places that offer Afternoon Tea and hunt down the best scones with the right amount of clotted cream and strawberry jam. And I’m not joking.