‘Alive’ Director Jimmy Olsson Talks Intimacy And Prejudice

Director Jimmy Olsson joins us on Close-up Culture to talk about his latest short film, Alive.

Q: The last time we spoke you had just made a short film – ‘2nd Class’ – about racism and fear. Can you tell us about the story for your latest short – ‘Alive’ – and what inspired it?

A: I like to treat social issues. This time I got inspired by a story I heard on a podcast and I could see the drama there. That story was somewhat different from this film, but there was an element for Alive there.

The film is about Ida and Victoria. Ida is the assistant to Victoria, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair. Victoria yearns for someone to love and intimacy, and Ida tries to help her by setting up a Tinder profile. But when a shady guy matches with Victoria, Ida starts to worry about what might happen.

It’s a film about prejudice, how we see each other and judge each other by the way we look.

Q: I was struck by the opening image of Victoria (Eva Johansson) being lowered into a swimming pool by a machine. Why did you want to begin on this note?

A: I wanted to start with that image because it tells us a lot about the relationship between Ida and Victoria. It also tells us about who Victoria is and what she is feeling.


Q: There’s a scene – involving Ida’s boyfriend (Joel Ödmann) – which directly contrasts Ida’s sexual autonomy with Victoria’s loneliness and isolation. Can you talk about that scene and what you explore through it?

A: I wanted to have a scene that shows the total freedom people have that disabled people don’t. Disabled people rely on help from others and they can sometimes be left outside and treated like a burden on society, without care and love.

Basically the scene talks about two different worlds and I wanted to connect them by having similar movement patterns… When Ida and her boyfriend fall on the bed, the assistant puts Victoria’s legs up, and when Ida’s boyfriend caresses Ida’s forehead, the assistant wipes Victoria’s face quite harshly.

Q: A lot of the film takes place in dark, low light rooms. Why did you choose this approach and what does it bring to the story?

A: I like this realistic style. But we also didn’t have much choice either, since we shot the film with a tiny crew and no money.

That being said, I really like to shoot it natural because it brings more tension to the performances in a way. Darkness also helps us to contain the characters and their world. I like darkness because it allows us to build our own perception of the world. It also looks good.


Q: I noticed Victoria is watching a Katie Taylor [Irish professional boxer] fight in one scene. Was that intentional to underline Victoria’s desire to be more active and live a more exciting life?

A: We had a backstory from the beginning that Victoria was a former boxer. We even had a scene where she had a flashback, but I felt that I didn’t want to make a statement about the sport and the damage it can bring so we didn’t shoot that. It also interfered with the story a bit.

Q: Eva Johansson and Ida Madeleine Martin are fantastic in their roles. What were they like to collaborate with?

A: They were fantastic to work with. I knew Madeleine from before. She and I did some additional work on the script together. Eva auditioned and I felt immediately that she was an actor who really wanted to get into the role and do research. Since it’s a sensitive part to play, Eva was quite fragile on set because she was so into it. I am very thankful and very impressed by both.

Q: What are your hopes for ‘Alive’? 

A: I really hope that Alive will do well at the big festivals. I have two great distributors in “Distribution with Glasses” and “Journeyman”, so I’m hoping the film will do even better than 2nd Class did. I personally think Alive is a better film, although I’m proud of both.

Alive will have its premiere at the Gothenburg International Film Festival in late January and after that I’m hoping for the A-level festivals. I’m also hoping that this film will give me some more and bigger work in the future.

Q: What is next for you in 2020? 

A: I have another short called Whatever Happened To Ms Longstocking, which is a comedy mockumentary film. It will premiere at Gothenburg as well.

I’m doing my first feature this Autumn, a story based on 2nd Class. That film is called To Save A Boy. I’m making a pilot for a TV series in February and a TV series for children this Spring, so I have some work to do!

Follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram

Visit Jimmy’s website: www.regissor.com

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